Whilst 2016 brought us some fantastic films, it is fair to say that 2016 hosted some of its fair shares of cinema atrocities too. Luckily, not as many 20 which is what I have in my favourites list, but listed below are 5 films that really got me seething. I must note before that I actively try and avoid films that I just know are going to be horrendous (a real film critic has to sit through everything though which is what in an ideal world, I want to be) so this list might not be truly representative. One must also realise the difference between a film that is disappointing and a film that is truly bad. I could probably find 20 films that disappointed me last year but this is not the purpose of this post. Compared to 2015, I have to say that this list is a lot more mild. Although the worst film on this list is a bad film, if I were listing these films in tandem with last year, I think the Top 4 are probably worse from last year than the worst film this year.
5) The Neon Demon
I’ve had a very mixed relationship with director Nicolas Winding Refn and his films. I really liked ‘Drive’ but I do find his direction generally quite obtrusive and this film has all of his worst qualities. Reviews for this film have been decidedly mixed and I can understand why one might like this film and I really did try to stick it out and try and find something of value here but around the half-way mark, I couldn’t and the film really started to get on my nerves. Elle Fanning is good enough in the lead role but I absolutely hated her character and the message that Refn was sending out to audiences. The rest of the performances were pretty poor, with the exception of Keanu Reeves who seems to be having fun here in a really odd, misguided storyline. The film is obviously designed to shock in places which it does but it’s too little too late and when you have characters as utterly hateful as the ones here are, there’s not much to save this film.
4) X-Men: Apocalypse
‘X-Men: Apocalypse’ severely drops the ball big time – it is far and away the worst entry in the entire franchise and apart from a promising first 45 minutes or so, is a CGI bore. The story is incoherent and sloppy and particularly towards the film’s climax, the film is unwatchable. Even the acting which is normally stellar is very underwhelming and there are many examples of both old and new characters phoning it in. There is some stuff to like here – there are a couple of good sequences and the film opens up rather promisingly but other than this, the film is an outright disaster. It is an overstuffed and incoherent mess. (My original review here)
3) Bad Santa 2
It pains me to say that ‘Bad Santa 2′ is a lazy, puerile, mean-spirited sequel. It’s not funny at all save for a few one liners that got a faint chuckle out of me and the film actually really got on my nerves as the film progressed. It’s not quite as offensive as some other comedy sequels as it doesn’t try and turn the humour up to 11, instead ‘Bad Santa 2’ is just painfully flat and has no plot. On the narrative front, it’s pretty ropey but Billy Bob Thornton at least gives a good performance as the titular character but it’s just an awful shame he’s been equipped with such a bad script that pairs him up with hateful characters – it’s not going to do him any favours and will undoubtedly be another hit on his career which he doesn’t need. Alarm bells should have been ringing when news of Mark Waters’ hiring was announced – he is not suitable for this material and has spat upon the legacy of a film that I really like. ‘Bad Santa 2’ can be thrown away and burnt on the ever-increasing list of bad comedy sequels – it is not the Christmas treat that we deserved or wanted. (My original review here)
2) Midnight Special
Surprisingly, a film that was critically acclaimed by both critics and audiences but I found to be absolutely dire. What I will say before completing ripping this film apart is that the always talented Michael Shannon and Joel Edgerton’s performances are great even if they look confused to be in this film. Other than this, the film is lazy, unoriginal and annoyingly directed by Jeff Nichols who I increasingly dislike as a film director but many others think he’s very talented. Not being able to connect with the film at all, I stuck with it on the promise that the ending was going to really be something special but it wasn’t. I’m not saying for a second I don’t like Steven Spielberg but the best way to describe ‘Midnight Special’ is by imagining a film with the corny qualities of Steven Spielberg directed with the utter contempt that Jeff Nichols has and feels like it’s 3 hours long. An utter snoozefest and I don’t understand how others have loved it. I haven’t even dared to approach ‘Loving’ yet which got critical buzz.
1) The Boy
Ever since the first trailer came out, I was very trepidacious about the film and then after finally watching it, ‘The Boy’ confirmed my fears. It is horrendously acted, is not scary in the slightest and at the film’s big reveal at the end, it is utterly laughable and I couldn’t take the film seriously. The film looks like it was made-for-television and is cliched the entire way through and offers nothing new to the genre. At least however, it isn’t as offensive as the majority of the films listed as my Worst Films of 2015 but in terms of all the films that I have watched in 2016, this was the worst one. A real shame and it doesn’t do the horror genre any favours – luckily, the year was otherwise triumphant with films such as ‘The Witch’, ‘Green Room’, ‘Under The Shadow’, ‘Hush’ and ‘The Conjuring 2‘ that managed to make a lasting impression and made people forget about this film. But I didn’t forget about it and so here it is so that it can get the embarassment it so rightly deserves.
So there we go – as mentioned, I’m sure if I would have actively gone and watched all the really bad films, this list would definitely change but I didn’t. The fact still remains though, regardless of whether there is anything worse out there, this list is still a collection of flops. However, as mentioned compared to last year, 2016 was a miracle run in terms of bad films and I would question whether ‘The Boy’ would even rank in the Top Five from last year. Fingers crossed 2017 ends up being as good a year as 2016 but also that there is nothing truly awful released.