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As our packed mid-year best of list proved, 2019 has given cinephiles a lot of movies to be excited about. However, there’s also been quite a few stinkers, ranging from the pretentious, to the muddled, to the just completely tone deaf.
To check out what to avoid, Headstuff’s film writers have selected their least favourite films of the year so far. Be warned, some of these are real bad.
M Night Shyamalan’s Glass makes the worst list because it wastes a very exciting premise, delivering instead a muddled dreary affair. While not a bad movie in its own right, it disappoints as a sequel to the brilliant Unbreakable and Split. This is now a promising trilogy that falls apart in the last act, tripping over giant plot-holes.
Bruce Willis’ unbreakable David Dunn has been crime fighting for 19 years without doubting his powers. Yet one chat with Sarah Paulson’s suspicious psychiatrist leaves him questioning himself? Meanwhile, DID sufferer Kevin Wendell Crumb (James McAvoy) is having his villainous personality ‘The Beast’ – capable of superhuman abilities – suppressed with strobe lights. Why can’t he just close his eyes and summon his inner monster to climb up and destroy them?
These glaring plot issues – coupled with some unsatisfying final character arcs and the climactic introduction of a giant piece of new of lore left totally unexplored – leaves Glass feeling like a bunch of interesting half-baked ideas. That’s not the worst thing on its own. But it’s also not what you want as the conclusion to a nearly 20-year-old trilogy. Kevin Burke
Hollywood wouldn’t let Guillermo del Toro write and direct a final installment for his beautiful, bewitching and much-loved Hellboy franchise. They chose instead to make this grim, ugly, completely devoid of magic reboot – serving as a testament to studio stupidity.
Like Suicide Squad, this new Hellboy mistakes an overstuffed plot, obnoxious needle drops, ultra-violence and terrible zingers for bad-ass cool. Meanwhile, most of actors are miscast (it takes some effort to make Ian McShane and Sasha Lane look bad) and the finale – consisting of mostly CGI glop against a dirt-hued backdrop – is headache inducing.
The only surprising element of this reboot is the fact its credited director is Neil Marshall, the man behind Doomsday and Dog Soldiers. Although given behind-the-scenes reports and his absence from any promotional activities for the movie, it seems it was finished without him. It’s the only thing that would explain why this Hellboy was so hellish. Stephen Porzio
The Haunting of Sharon Tate
I hate this movie so much. I hate it right down to its disgusting and ill-conceived core. Every single aspect of the film is beyond inept. The actors might as well be reading their lines from cue cards behind the camera. The direction is lifeless. The editing is horrendous featuring quite possibly the worst use of slow-motion that I have ever seen in a film.
More so, whoever suggested that the murder of Sharon Tate at the hands of the Manson family required a film adaptation with a supernatural twist should be ashamed of themselves and should have this movie used as an example of how to poorly adapt a true-life story.
After the beyond terrible reception to this cinematic bus fire, one imagines writer-director Daniel Farrands would learn his lesson. What’s that? He has just wrapped up production on his next project The Murder of Nicole Brown Simpson. Oh for god’s sake! Sean Moriarty
NBC’s Hannibal mined three seasons out of Mads Mikkelsen as a charming killer. Netflix’s Polar on the other hand couldn’t even deliver an under two-hour feature.
That’s no knock on the Danish actor. He looks committed in Polar’s one or two compelling scenes. It’s just he’s fighting an uphill battle with a film that seems to desperately want to be John Wick – all the while replacing that franchise’s ballet-like action, stunning neon dappled cinematography and stripped-back elegant script with awkward hyper-kinetic set-pieces, garish looking colours and rampant misogyny.
If that’s not bad enough, the movie has the gall to end on a sequel stinger. I’d watch Mads in just about anything. But I’ll never see Polar 2. Stephen Porzio
Serenity is a special kind of ‘bad movie’. It’s a film which is ambitious in its intentions, yet as it progresses begins to crumble under the weight of its own narrative risks. As such, the biggest praise I can give the film is it’s never boring.
The film on the one hand has the hallmarks of a neo-noir. It centres on Baker (Matthew McConaughey) being roped into committing a shady deed upon running into his ex-wife Karen (Anne Hathaway). However, the film takes so many strange detours as the plot unravels that its hard not to laugh by the time you reach it’s bizarre third act – which I will not spoil but can be read about here.
I’ll have to give the film some time before it makes its way under the category of cult films with the heading of “so bad its good”. I can’t imagine this was the goal of the filmmakers. But if it was then writer-director Steven Knight (Locke, Peaky Blinders) is a genius. I don’t even think that M. Night Shyamalan could have crafted something this strange. Sean Moriarty
If was I was The Asylum – the production company behind Hollywood knock-offs like Atlantic Rim and Transmorphers – I’d be worried. Netflix seem to be muscling in on their territory and just making the names less obvious.
As mentioned previously, Polar cribbed a lot from John Wick. However, what’s more shocking is how much of a blatant rip off The Silence is from both A Quiet Place and Bird Box. In a world where humans are being attacked by blind monsters who kill anyone who makes a sound, a family (Miranda Otto, Stanley Tucci) are able to survive because they know sign language thanks to their deaf daughter, Ally (Kiernan Shipka). This won’t save them, however, from the murderous tongueless cults now roaming the land.
Directed by the king of trash movies John R. Leonetti (Annabelle, Wish Upon), The Silence has a couple of wacky fun sequences involving snakes and wood chippers. Yet as it goes on, it makes increasingly less sense. Whereas Bird Box established that its sinister cults sprung up in the months following that film’s global catastrophe, here they emerge the day of the monsters’ attacks which never quite rings true.
Meanwhile in comparison to A Quiet Place, The Silence is so lazy in how it handles Ally’s deafness. Whereas the former used dialogue sparingly – relying on subtitles to translate sign language, thus drawing viewers into its soundless world – the latter has characters talk while they make hand gestures, defeating the entire purpose of its premise. Talk about shhhhite. Stephen Porzio
Under the Silver Lake
The reports of Under the Silver Lake’s badness have been exaggerated. Yes, I said it. Did I just blow your mind? Admittedly, in the aftermath of It Follows’ success, David Robert Mitchell’s new film doesn’t live up to the hype his predecessor garnered, but considering how attention plummeted upon Silver Lake’s release it’s hard to say that was entirely fair.
I guess it’s sort of poetic that Mitchell’s follow-up came back to bite him in the ass but no one else saw it. Certainly, his neo-noir is far too long and the twists and turns it takes aren’t as compelling as it would like you to believe. But it’s not without its entertainment value either. Andrew Garfield puts in a fantastic central performance and the film is aesthetically pleasing and gorgeously edited, creating an impressive fugue of Los Angeles-tinged uncertainty.
That said, too much of the mystery is under-cooked and depends too much on cliché: not great for a detective film. Overall, Silver Lake feels like an early draft of what could have become a more interesting movie. There’s nothing wrong with Pynchon-lite, but Silver Lake doesn’t quite manage that. Sarah Cullen
We get it Adam McKay. You hate Dick Cheney.
Sure, you have good reason to. The former VP to George W Bush played a big role in the US going to war with Iraq, the country’s method of waterboarding suspected terrorists and downplaying global warming. However, I find it hard to believe he and Donald Rumsfeld joked about having no political beliefs and craving power for the sake of power as they do in Vice. While that may be true, one imagines they don’t think of themselves that way.
People are complex. While it may be hard to empathise with Cheney, he could make for an interesting character. There’s something tragic about him replacing his vice for alcohol with one for power, leaving havoc in his wake. However, McKay’s script and Christian Bale’s one-note performance (despite nailing the VP’s mannerisms to a tee) is content with just depicting its central character as Satan. You never understand Cheney and why he makes certain key decisions. In fact, his constant stone face and lack of emotions makes him feel totally unhuman and uninteresting as a lead character – leaving you wondering why we’d want to follow him for 130 minutes.
McKay doesn’t want viewers to see Cheney as human. He’s clearly outraged by all he’s done. But he also doesn’t give his audience anything else to be interested in. Between Jesse Plemons’ cringe worthy narration, endless stock footage inserts and needless jumping back and forward in time, the movie barely has any actual scenes. It also has a strangely hectoring tone, whereby it feels like McKay is dumbing down the story for the audience – retelling the Valerie Plame scandal and Cheney’s accidental shooting of a man while hunting with all the depth of a Wikipedia entry. Stephen Porzio