Alright everyone! Now that we’ve had our fun with the GOOD list, it’s time to put on some work pants as we start wading through the unimaginable dreck that was yet another “fun” aspect of the abysmal year that we all had to suffer through. You know what though? Most of us made it through to the other side, so if looking back at the year that couldn’t beat us and having a laugh (or one last bitter tirade) at the pathetic excuses for entertainment that made daily life just a little bit worse, well I think we all deserved it, don’t you?
Anyway, let’s not beat around the bush any longer! WE’RE DIVING RIGHT IN!!
Dishonorable Mentions: Death Note & Bright
Since I didn’t even bother trying to watch another Adam Sandler movie this year, this dubious distinction goes to two OTHER Netflix features; albeit it for very different reasons. The truth of the matter is, I didn’t particularly mind either of these films as I think they had some good ideas buried within their mediocre (and cheap looking) execution with Death Note having an interestingly different take on its main character (a whiny little punk with issues of inadequacy instead a megalomaniacal genius) and Bright having an ALRIGHT set up for what is essentially a weaker version of 16 Blocks. That said… yeah, these films are REALLY flawed and in glaringly offensive ways. As much as I like the idea of taking some of the pomp and circumstance out of Death Note and reframing Light Yagami to be a less foreboding figure, I don’t see why that necessitated him to be white since they never play with that change in his identity within the text of the film. There could have been a component of White Privilege to the story (especially with L being black), but that seems to have never been the intent on the part of the filmmakers who simply seemed to associate AMERICAN REMAKE with WHITE AS DEFAULT. Similarly, the half-baked and ham fisted social commentary in the script for Bright creates one of the most cringe inducing screenplays of the year which has Orcs standing in for Black People in a world that still has Black People, and it even finds an excuse to get Will Smith to say “Fairy Lives Don’t Matter” before beating said fairy to death. Sure, the movie picks up once it gets away from its proudly ignorant views on race and becomes a straight up chase film with Will Smith and Joel Edgerton (who’s under a decent enough make up job), but that’s hardly enough to excuse everything that it gets wrong in the process. Now I don’t want this to come across as Netflix bashing because they DO put out quite a bit of decent content as I’ve heard good things about First They Killed My Father, Beast of No Nation, even The Babysitter, and while it wasn’t my favorite King Adaptation this year I thought Gerald’s Game was pretty good too. That said, they’ve had quite a few stumbles over the years, pretty much starting with their awful Adam Sandler deal, and these two movies are just further examples of their awkward steps towards becoming a media empire of their own; something they’ll need to keep working on now that Disney is gonna own everything else in the world and will eventually come out with their own streaming service to try and crush them. If Netflix wants a chance to survive the Disney/Fox merger, they’ll need to avoid having clunkers like this clogging up their service.
It hasn’t been a particularly notable film for horror outside of IT’s massive box office success, but that doesn’t mean that I’ll forget about some of the abysmal crap they tried to sneak past us; some of which were WELL past their expiration date! Leatherface and Amintyville: The Awakening were both scheduled to come out much earlier, and those two managed to bypass the theater entirely to head straight to video. Heck, Amintyville: The Awakening was given away FOR FREE on the Google Play store and STILL no one gave a shit about it! That’s not even getting into Friend Request which was released LAST YEAR in Germany to only recently get a US release back in September (despite the English language DVD being WIDELY available well before said release) and The Bye Bye Man which may not have been pushed back THAT much (only about four months or so), but was STILL an utter piece of shit! For what turned out to be a WEIRD year for horror out on the margins of relevance, I think Rings ended up being the best representative of this whole cycle as it was pushed back several times, is the sequel to a well-received film series (or at least the first one was in the US), and managed to be an utterly stale and uninspired pile of dreck that is almost as painful to watch as the ACTUAL murder video in the film itself. The thing is, there WAS some potential there as the central conceit of someone trying to study the tape and understand what Samara could actually be is absolutely fascinating to me, but it’s just not there. It’s all just window dressing that get immediately dropped by the second act, and all we’re left with is just another boring ghost film that’s light on scares, overburdened with an uninteresting and over explained plot, and a monster who evokes less fear and menace than a Care Bear with a bad perm. Why is it even called Rings, anyway? There’s still only one ghost, right? Oh, who cares?
9. King Arthur: Legend of the Sword
As much fun as it is to bash on the non-Wonder Woman parts of the DCCU, Batman v Superman turned out to NOT be the worst launch pad for a cinematic universe as this film ended up flopping so hard that it killed all prospects for its planned SIX FILM FRANCHISE. Now that’s not to say that this is a WORSE film than Batman v Superman, but at least THAT film had enough going on in the margins (*cough* Gal Gadot *cough*) as well as just enough of a mainstream draw to simply be the nadir of the series instead of the death nail. A King Arthur film reimagined by Guy Ritchie already seems like a recipe for disaster, but combining that with all the foreshadowing and unresolved plot thread that were in service to a franchise we’re never going to see end up overshadowing what few genuine strengths he manages to bring to the material. Hell, this movie is such a disjointed mess that I’m PRETTY sure the would be King of England ends up fighting ROUS’s (Rodents Of Unusual Sizes) in an alternate dimension for about ten minutes for reasons that aren’t made particularly clear. I mean, I GUESS it has to do with his HERO’S JOURNEY and has some sort of spiritual significance (his Approach to the Inmost Cave if you will), but he keeps on having to do this shit throughout the entire movie, so it’s not even that much of a milestone in his arc! I don’t hate Guy Ritchie’s work as I did think The Man From U.N.C.L.E. was a decent enough spy thriller, but even if he didn’t have to shove in sequel bait and preemptive Franchise Management we’d still be dealing with a rather dull and uninspired take on the Arthurian Legends that barely manages to resemble it in the first place. It’d be nice if producers and studio heads would WATCH the movies that they spend so much money producing considering one of the major themes of this film is Arthur learning to overcome his stubborn pride which is the ONLY thing I can assume was motivating whoever thought THIS tepid disaster was going to make enough money to fund a SIX FILM FRANCHISE. Then again, I now kind of want to see Guy Ritchie and the Holy Grail…
If this movie did anything right, it was basically forcing me to go back and watch the original film which honestly turned out to be an excellent little science fiction horror dramedy hybrid; a combination you REALLY don’t see all that often! The remake though had none of the qualities that made the original film so memorable which alone should condemn it to being an utter failure, but even without those completely legitimate comparisons, it’s just a barely functional and painfully average piece of fluff that never amounts to anything. Is it a horror film? A coming of age story? A self-aware nod to nineties nostalgia? You’d think that one of the things it should have picked up from the original film was its ability to juggle disparate tones and ideas, yet none of them come together here and it’s all just a jumble of barely explored subplots and aimless scenes that just abruptly end. One dude gets stabbed in the and by a ghost (I think?) and then we just cut to him with a bandage on in the next scene! WHAT THE HELL HAPPENED AFTER THE STABBING!? It’s hardly the worst remake ever made, but the laziness of this film (especially when contrasted with the vibrancy of the original) makes it one of the best examples of why it’s a bad idea to remake a film when you don’t have any original ideas of your own. Also, what the hell was with Kiefer Sutherland showing up in this!? If he wasn’t there to play (), then why was he there at all!? HOW DO YOU FAIL THAT BADLY AT FAN SERVICE!?
7. Wind River
REALLY not making this easy for myself considering that the damn film has gotten near universal acclaim, but I just couldn’t get past how tone oblivious this fucking thing is as it centers a story about the suffering of an indigenous community around the strong jawed righteous white dude and the scrappy BIG CITY lady cop who needs to learn about REAL police work. WHO CARES ABOUT ANY OF THAT!? Why are we focusing on THE ULTIMATE MANSPLAINER when it could have very easily been about the people who are suffering on the outskirts of the film? Why is this a movie that points out Native American women are left out of missing person’s statistics, yet the preceding two hours barely had enough room to give any of them speaking roles? Heck, I’m pretty sure the mother of the women who died is only on hand for three seconds just so we can see her self-harming. Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t think the best way to discuss the oppression of a group of people by an uncaring government that is held up by the apathy of those unwilling to hold said oppressors to task is to have our main character be a cliché cowboy and to have the movie frame his misogyny as some sort of HARD TRUTH rather than a deeply held character flaw. For fuck’s sake, the movie goes even further than Taken as far as patriarchal condescension towards women’s autonomy as Jeremey Renner’s daughter is left alone for ONE NIGHT and ends up dead in the snow after a party. It’s a movie that frames the argument of women being harmed by men (a genuine real world problem) in terms of PROTECTING them as pretty much all roads outside of living under the wholesome roof of mommy and daddy leads to rape and murder; a problem made even worse as its snuck into a film that tries to address the issue in terms of how it affects Indigenous women who never get brought up in those discussions, at least as far as mainstream movies go. It’s a film that COULD have done a lot of good and had opened a few eyes, but there’s something rotten at the core of this that undermines whatever good messages it could have had, but then maybe I just don’t get it as everyone else seemed to like it. I mean it SEEMS like a problem when a movie about Native Americans still has two white people headlining the damn thing, but what do I know!?
6. The Book of Henry
I didn’t get a chance to check this one out in the theaters but I certainly heard about it in the months since, and… yeah. It’s pretty bad. It’s gut wrenchingly uncomfortable and is so tone oblivious in pretty much every respect; portraying children (especially Henry) in supremely condescending lights and treating adults like conveniently oblivious morons who don’t notice what’s going on within ear shot of their freaking houses. It’s not that I don’t think that many of us are capable of great evil and that even more of us are apathetic to it, but for being one of the grimmest films to come out in quite some time it ALSO manages to be one of the most trite and ham fisted as well. The lengths this movie has to go to justify the actions these characters take is downright ludicrous and it frankly does a piss poor job of portraying the REAL ramifications of such actions. I mean, did ANYONE on board with this film have even an inkling of how to handle cases of abuse and what resources are out there? Small town or not (they’re clearly not in a bad neighborhood), there are plenty of local organizations as well as national ones that would have been helpful to everyone involved; not to mention how low of an opinion this film has of such places as the ONE organization that Henry tries to get to intervene is run by the abuser’s brother. Did NO ONE working there put those pieces together, and are we just supposed to ASSUME that someone running an abuse organization wouldn’t take the claims seriously; even if it’s against his own brother? See, this is the grotesque lengths that the movie HAS to go to in order to make the eventual solution here feel the slightest bit justifiable and it fails MISERABLY in doing so. I honestly can’t tell if the cop out of a storybook ending makes it better (at least SOMEONE realized how stupid they were being) or makes it so much worse (consequences!? WHAT ARE THOSE!?), but either way it’s easily one of the most jaw dropping and grotesque studio films we’ve gotten in quite a while, and it’s that much worse when you realize that the filmmakers clearly thought this was supposed to be endearing.
5. It Comes at Night
I feel like there’s a disconnect I have when it comes to certain types of films; namely ones that are overly bleak or mean spirited even if there’s a great point to be had. Hell, the movie I despise more than any other is Fight Club which may be about the dangers of Toxic Masculinity, but that doesn’t make it any less unpalatable to sit through when the film indulges in so much of that mindset’s worst tendencies. Likewise, this being the BILLIONTH movie to make the bold supposition that desperate people can lose their humanity in times of crisis (took you all day to come up with that one?) doesn’t excuse its boring and predictable story as well as the grotesquely unsatisfying ending; not that downer endings are inherently unsatisfying, rather this is the hackneyed version of a downer ending. It’s all shock and no originality; trying DESPERATELY to make you feel something when all I left with was disappointment and scorn. Not only that, THEY COULDN’T EVEN GET THE TITLE RIGHT! Nothing comes at night!! Well, unless you mean THE UNENDING HORROR OF MAN!! Ooohh! All sorts of hidden layers here! I just don’t get it. Sure there’s decent acting and some really great cinematography, but it’s all in service of nothing we haven’t seen before and nothing that will enrich your life in any way if you’ve seen even a few halfway decent post apocalypse movies. Even the Resident Evil movies are more fulfilling than this, and those are the cinematic equivalent a bacon cheeseburger stuffed with cotton candy!
4. The Emoji Movie
It wasn’t easy picking which animated movie was the worst this year considering there was some stiff competition with The Boss Baby and Rock Dog still burned into my memory and haunting my dreams each night, but when it came down to it I had to pick whichever one had the least redeeming value, and The Emoji movie wins by having absolutely none. I can point to Eddie Izzard in Rock Dog or even some of the absurdist humor in The Boss Baby as little moments of competence in a sea of mediocrity, but there is NOTHING to be found in this film that raises the bar above utter dreadfulness and Pablum. No, I’m not some OLD MAN YELLING AT CLOUDS because I just don’t GET the cultural significance of Emoji’s; I’m railing against a film that doesn’t respect its target audience and offers them nothing in return for their time and attention. This is a film so cynical that it basically sets itself up to be hated and to wear that distinction like a badge of honor (not unlike Friedberg and Seltzer films) which MIGHT have passed muster to a certain extent if it was in any way SUBVERSIVE, but this is about as commercial as you can get considering it’s literally a walking tour of various existing products that you can buy on your phone right now. At least Freddy Got Fingered had the dignity to TRY and be shocking while also having an ACTUAL axe to grind. This movie? I don’t know, I guess it hates teenagers who look at their phones (WHAT A GROUNDBREAKING REVELATION!!) but other than that it has no personality to it. How could it? It’s constructed piece by piece from unconnected product placements which take precedent over everything else, so it can’t really AFFORD to have an identity of its own lest it get in the way whatever it’s trying to sell to us. I’m not against product placement, especially if it’s necessary to make the damn thing in the first place, but this is a movie CREATED FOR THE PURPOSE of product placement; the cinematic equivalent of a SEE YOUR ADVERTISEMENT HERE message that you sometimes get at the theater while waiting for the trailers to start. With no entertainment and CERTAINLY no heart to break up the constant stream of commercials, it deserves every bit of vitriol and venom that it received on its initial release and I hope that it was enough to stop them from making a sequel, though I doubt it considering the damn thing made over two hundred million at the box office. Can’t we at least put that money towards something more useful like maybe one of those King Arthur sequels?
Yeah, chalk this one up as THE LEAST SURPRISING MOMENT OF 2017 considering I already wrote a rather scathing review and followed it up with a point by point breakdown of just how much I hated the damn thing for good measure. Not everyone is gonna agree with me which is fine, but I simply could not STAND what this movie was doing in the same way I cannot stand It Comes At Night and, once again, Fight Club; just a bunch of smarmy bullshit to cover up the overly cruel and sadistic film lying beneath the surface. It’s not like I don’t understand what Aronofsky was going for considering how bluntly he was cribbing notes from The Old Testament, but being an allegory isn’t some magic button that will get me to accept just how brutal this movie is and its rather tasteless use of sexual violence in order to get its point across. I don’t like seeing people suffer in movies and can only tolerate it if I feel that the film earns whatever heinous imagery it uses to get its point across, and this is the film that asks us to accept the most while earning the absolute least. Even the third act which EVERYONE is saying is a brilliant piece of cinematography is basically a rip of Sia’s music video for The Greatest, which managed to be amazing WITHOUT including baby murder, cannibalism, and sexual violence! My favorite movie of last year was a violent exploitation film about exploring a government sanctioned breakdown of society and my favorite film of THIS year is a terrifying dive into the life of someone who experiences and perpetuates some of the worst experiences of social media and the culture built up around it. My favorite movie of all time ends in a NUCLEAR HOLOCAUST and the extinction of the human race! I can handle bleak subject matter! What I CAN’T handle is when it’s handled poorly and without taste; when pretensions and shock value are seen as more important than providing a worthwhile experience.
2. Daddy’s Home 2 & Fist Fight
Daddy’s Home 2 Review; Fist Fight Review
You know… as much as I COMPLETELY despise Mother and its self-satisfied pretentions, at least it was ABOUT something. These two movies? HOLY SHIT! You want to stare into the darkness recesses of humanity and come out feeling like you’ve been run over by a truck filled with sadness and despair, don’t go see It Comes At Night or Mother. Don’t even see Ingrid Goes West! SEE THESE SOULLESS AND OBNOXIOUSLY SADISTIC PIECES OF SHIT!! It’s been a rough fucking year for everyone considering what’s been going on with the rise Nazi assholes and Alt-Right scumbags, and to a certain extent these films feel like an extension of that mindset; the FUCK YOU, I’M TAKING CHARGE AGAIN toxic bravado that encourages people to act like scumbags to everyone around them. Both these movies revel in the virtues of Toxic Masculinity with Daddy’s Home 2 brazenly trying to give Mel Gibson, who is an around monstrous asshole, a second career with a role that trades in on the very toxic behavior that destroyed his life in the first place, and Fist Fight putting forth the idea that the only way to earn respect is through physical violence and letting your child tell another girl to go fuck herself on stage. There is too much god damn talent in both of these movies to be wasted on material that’s about as dated as an Andrew Dice Clay routine but even if you ignore the gross so called “comedy” on display, they’re just not well made movies and are barely functional in terms of story with Daddy’s Home 2 being structured like a series of disconnected comedy skits and Fist Fight failing to build a world that you can believe in in the slightest. There are some great comedies that came out this year that don’t insult your intelligence, your dignity, and your integrity as a human fucking being the way these two backwards looking reactionary shock comedies end up being which makes it all the more depressing that they both ended up making money at the box office. I guess you really can sell anything to the public if you put enough star power and unchallenging “risqué” humor into it, but that doesn’t mean we have to freaking like it! No one in this world ever went broke aiming for the lowest common denominator, and you’ll never go broke either underestimating just how bad so called “comedies” can get given the right social climate and a big enough backlash to even the tiniest of cultural changes. Given the way things are going onw, let’s just say it’s gonna be a rough few years…
1. The Snowman
I kind of didn’t WANT this to take the number one spot considering the kind of problems this film has. Sometimes the production of a film simply doesn’t work out no matter how badly everyone involved wanted it to, and the strict shooting schedule here meant that a good fifteen percent of the movie was never even shot. What are even supposed to DO when that happens!? Well the answer clearly wasn’t to release the film in an unfinished state to theaters, but they did it anyway which means its fair game to point out just how wretched the final product ended up being. The plot makes absolutely no sense, the killer is completely without personality or even a clear motive, and Michael Fassbender has proven once again that he has no idea how to pick a good role to save his life. The underlying movie doesn’t look like it would have been all that good, but the fact that so much of this film is hard to follow and cobbled together with some rather atrocious ADR only exacerbates what weaknesses were inherent to the material, like Harry’s uninteresting personality and the rather pointless red herrings. I was gnashing my teeth waiting for this miserable pile of unfocused mush to finally be over with, but when it actually DID end I was flabbergasted at just how awkwardly and suddenly we just… stopped. Looking at the movies that gravitated towards the bottom of this list, you’ll see that I tend to hate movies that say something terrible more than saying something terribly, but I’m gonna make an exception here because the amateurish filmmaking of this straight up unfished movie goes beyond the pale in terms of being utterly unwatchable which is why it absolutely deserves the number one spot on this list. May it live on forever as the greatest example on how NOT to make a movie and why it’s important to ACTUALLY FINISH SHOOTING IT BEFORE YOU RELEASE IT!!
And with that, the demons of 2017 have been exorcised from my soul and I can start the year reborn! I’M READY TO TAKE THE CRAPPY FILMS OF JANUARY HEAD ON!! Do you agree with my list? Probably not, but I’d love to hear you tell me why in the comments below!! Oh, and if you haven’t already, go ahead and check out the GOOD list if you want a solid palate cleanser!
You can also check out my lists from last year at the links below!!
2 thoughts on “Cinema Dispatch: Top 10 Worst Movies of 2017”
Hi Matt! Like your list, agree with Mother! being there (too pretentious and boring for me to enjoy), but I did enjoy Wind River. To me the movie felt like the problems were too big, too overwhelming: the brother of the girl with the drugs, the mom, the dad. So in that sense their suffering did speak to me. Then again, I liked to read your point of view: it was sold to me as ‘city lady needs help of local intuitive guy to solve mysterious murder’ so I might have been set up less socially critical to begin with.
It certainly wasn’t one I got a righteous sense of satisfaction for hating. With something like The Emoji Movie or even Daddy’s Home 2, you not only have a relatively easy target, you also have examples to turn to that do the EXACT same thing better. Is there another high profile movie that covers these kinds of issues with a mostly Native American cast? I sure hope so, because this shouldn’t be the best one out there by default.