Thursday, December 17, 2015

The Worst Movies of 2015

Knock Knock. Image courtesy of Lionsgate.
Look at poor Keanu Reeves, tied up and screaming in Eli Roth's "Knock Knock." That's how I felt when watching the films I've listed below in my annual top 10 worst of the year.

On the whole, 2015 was a decent year for movies, if not a great one (more on that later when I post my best of the year list on Dec. 31). But, as usual, the year had its share of disasters.

This year, there weren't any catastrophes on the level of "Battlefield Earth" or "I, Frankenstein," although my pick for the worst of the year was pretty awful.

Also, there was only one film among my 10 worst that I found to be revolting. Typically, in any given year, there are at least a few of these - last year's triumvirate was "Moebius," "The Raid 2" and "Big Bad Wolves."

Also, I should note that I didn't end up seeing a handful of movies that a majority of critics panned, including the third "Human Centipede" movie (two was more than enough for me), the "Entourage" picture (never saw the show), "Jem and the Holograms," the (hopefully) final "Paranormal Activity" sequel, the apparently-disappointing "Stonewall" and big budget flops "Pan" and "Fantastic Four."

I did, however, unfortunately see all of the films below. These are my picks for worst of the year. Let me know in the comment section which movies you especially disliked this year and whether you suffered through the ones on my list.

10. Enter the Dangerous Mind - This portrait of the artist as a deranged young man focuses on a schizophrenic dubstep musician, whose annoying imaginary best friend propels him toward violent behavior that becomes increasingly unpleasant as the film lurches toward its ludicrous finale. If a film about a psychopath with a soundtrack sounding like something Skrillex put together during a drunken weekend sounds unappealing to you, go with that instinct.

9. The Lazarus Effect - For those unaware of the story of Lazarus, he's the dude who rose from the dead, whereas this miserable thriller that incorporates his name is merely risible. The film treads ground better handled in "Flatliners" and the cast assembled to portray the film's scientists almost make Denise Richards' portrayal of a nuclear physicist in that James Bond film nearly seem credible.

8. The Gallows - So, perhaps, this is the film that will - God willing - sound the death knell for the found footage genre, which has overstayed its welcome by about six years. In the picture, a group of high schoolers are haunted by the ghost of a young man who died years before during a stage production. The movie opens with a ridiculous staging of that death and culminates with an even sillier scene. In between is the typical time wasting filler you'd expect in a found footage horror movie.

7. Marfa Girl - Leave it to Larry Clark (director of "Kids" in better times, "Ken Park" in worse) to get a rise out of... well, maybe that phrase is not the most appropriate here. As usual, the film's ennui and misanthropy is occasionally broken up by gratuitous sex scenes, mostly involving teens.

6. Hot Pursuit - Reese Witherspoon follows up her Oscar nominated turn in "Wild" with this painfully unfunny dud, in which she plays a by-the-book cop who gets tangled up in a mess involving drug cartels and crooked cops. It's the type of film in which you can guess the next scene ahead of time and never be wrong.

5. Hot Tub Time Machine 2 - Speaking of painfully unfunny, this sequel appears to believe it's a good time for everyone involved because it ups the ante on foulness, violence and ridiculous plot turns. The question of why John Cusack didn't sign on for this sequel is answered within minutes of diving into this hot mess.

4. Unfinished Business - Speaking of painfully unfunny, this last ditch attempt to cash in on Vince Vaughn's career as a comedic leading man (before taking on a more serious turn in last summer's "True Detective, Season 2") never even made me crack a smile. It's the type of movie that thinks it's funny because it gives characters goofy names (Mike Pancake) and requires seasoned character actors (Tom Wilkinson) to act like perverted old men.

3. The Boy Next Door - Meant to be a creepy stalker thriller, this Jennifer Lopez vehicle is mostly unsettling because said stalker is a teenage boy with whom the 40-something high school teacher has a brief Lifetime Movie of the Week affair. On the other hand, the picture is often funnier than numbers four through six on this list, despite not being a comedy.

2. The Green Inferno - The only thing worse than the unrelenting stream of grotesqueries in Eli Roth's throwback to the Italian cannibal movies of the 1970s - which includes eyeball eating, limb hacking, tongue slicing and flesh ripping - is the film's isolationist view toward idealism and absolute disgust for people with causes.

1. Knock Knock - And the only thing worse than Eli Roth's "The Green Inferno" is the director's other movie this year. Although this picture - in which Keanu Reeves is tormented by two women who show up at his home on a rainy night - includes fewer depictions of pierced flesh, it more than makes up for it with dialogue that pierces the eardrums. Yes, it's that bad.

And while these films didn't crack my top 10 worst of the year, they're also best to be avoided: the aggravating musical "The Last 5 Years," silly indie horror movies "Dark Summer" and "We Are Still Here," lugubrious thriller "The Loft," completely unnecessary sequels "Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2" and "Sinister 2," unpleasant low budget thriller "Felt" and not frightening holiday horror movie "Krampus."

Also, you could probably do without these misfires: the silly "Fifty Shades of Grey" adaptation, Johnny Depp bomb "Mortdecai," Adam Sandler disasters "The Cobbler" and "Pixels," bland sequel "Divergent: Insurgent," Gaspar Noe's explicit but overwrought "Love," Angelina Jolie's Antonioni knockoff "By the Sea," the unfunny "Ted 2" and M. Night Shyamalan's falsely alleged comeback "The Visit."

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