Sunday, January 4, 2015


Let's make this clear, writing a "Top Ten" list for the worst films you have seen in a year is never fun and as such you find little inspiration while writing about them.  Because of this my reasons for disliking a film are probably not very deep, but here you have my 



From all reports, director Nacho Vigalondo appears to be a great guy. He doesn't take his work too seriously and just seems like someone you would love to hang out with and have a few drinks. However, I have a suspicion that it is this personality that sometimes gives his films more favourable reviews than they deserve. I'm not saying that online reviewers do this deliberately but I think at times those that have become friendly with the director find it hard to separate his personality from the films he has created which ultimately creates expectations higher than the film deserves. Before “Open Windows” had been officially released it had garnered some serious online buzz from its festival screenings, often being cited as a “Rear Window” for today’s generation. As such I went into this film expecting big things, but was stunned when I finally watched it and saw the train-wreck for what it really was. The film's gimmick of being told entirely on the open windows of a laptop's screen was so badly conceived and executed that it made the film almost incomprehensible. Combined with some terrible acting and a strangely miscast Elijah Wood, not to mention the ridiculous storyline, “Open Windows” became a chore to sit through and even harder to finish.


The following two films on this list are both Seth Rogen comedies so I should state right up front that I actually like Rogen and his presence on screen, but his films, like most modern day comedies always seem to rely on the gross out or the extreme in an attempt to get laughs. It is frustrating when filmmakers come up with good ideas for a comedy, which “Bad Neighbours” does have, only to not have faith in the idea and thus start padding it out with gross out scenes. When the trailer came out for this film, both my wife and I agreed it looked hilarious, but sadly the finished product was anything but. Laughs were sporadic at best, but worst of all was the fact that “Bad Neighbours” was totally boring.


For a week or so, this film was the most talked about and well known film of the moment when Sony pulled plans to release the film into theatres after threats of terrorist action to any cinemas who showed the film. Soon after Sony was condemned for their actions and the film ended up making its release date, although this time in limited release and on VOD. Seriously, North Korea should not have worried at all because, again, while it has a great idea behind it, the film itself is as silly and as dumb as it can get. Why a comedy about journalism and dictatorships needed to rely so heavily on sexual gags and gross out comedy is beyond me, but then this whole project feels off right from the get-go. Tone is inconsistent, James Franco over-acts ridiculously and then out of nowhere comes the very bloody finale. I really did not like this film.


One of the strangest combinations of genres that seems to always produce gold is horror and musicals. They just should not ever work because each genre seems to work against the other and yet in the horror musical genre we have gotten such classics like “Sweeny Todd”, “Repo! The Genetic Opera”, “Phantom of the Paradise” and “The Rocky Horror Picture Show”. After viewing the trailer for “Stage Fright”, it looked as though this film would soon be added to that very impressive list but alas it was not to be. A mixture of “Glee”, “Scream”, and “Phantom of the Opera”, “Stage Fright” seemed to fail in every possible department with terrible songs, very poor gore, some shocking acting (with the exception of Minnie Driver and a very camp Meat Loaf), and a villain who is not only embarrassing but also very easy to work out their identity. I wanted so much to like this film, but..........oh well.  Click here to read my original review.


Unlike the rest of the films on this list, “Transcendence” actually met my expectations of it. This had disaster written on it right from the start. All promotional material I saw for the film seemed to confirm this, and it all turned out prophetic. To be fair, I can remember very little about the film except that it was dull, dull, dull and probably its biggest offence was the fact that “Transcendence” seemed dated as soon as it was released. The whole thing felt as though it should have been made and released in the 90's not twenty years later like it was. Aside from that, all the performances were flat and lifeless and for a film directed by a famous cinematographer (Wally Pfister), the visual style was strangely non-descript. “Transcendence” was bland on an epic scale.


Here we have our first remake on this list which always seem to feature prominently on my worst of lists, but out of all the films here, Spike Lee's remake of “Oldboy” is the one I feel the most bad for. While the initial idea to remake Park Chan-Wook's amazing film was doomed from the get-go, it appears that this version never really had a chance after all of the studio interference and meddling that occurred. Both Spike Lee and star Josh Brolin have come out and publicly slammed the released version of the film for not being the film that they set out to make, with the studio basically taking the film away from Lee and editing it down to how they saw fit (Lee's cut of the film ran 140 minutes while the released version came in at 105 minutes). The end result is an absolute disgrace, almost like a cliff note's version of the South Korean original, having none of its flair and pairing down the story to its most basic elements to the point that the story itself becomes quite confusing. However, the studio meddling isn't to blame for everything, as one of the worst elements here is the casting of Sharlto Copley as the film's main villian. Copley gives such a flat and boring performance that it totally takes away from the insanity behind the man's plan for revenge. As bad as this film is, if Spike Lee's original cut was to be released, I would still take the time to check it out; let's hope it happens in the future.


The strangest thing about this “supernatural” horror film is just how loud it actually is. The film is full of ridiculous jump scares that are always highlighted by an increase in sound and/or score just to bash the viewer over the head with the fact that this is meant to be a spooky moment. Frankly I can not remember much about this film at all except for the fact that it was so bland. Nothing stood out and it was not scary in the least. Worst of all, nothing seems to happen and the main villain appears in his pyjamas at the end of the film. The other thing I hated was something that has become a total cliché of late, with the main character vomiting up a spirit or something that was rendered in really bad CGI that did not fit the period detail of the film. Sadly “The Quiet Ones”is a film that was made without any heart at all, and because of this, it is a total chore to sit through.


I have to be totally honest here and admit that I remember next to nothing about “Mockingbird” even though I only watched it a few weeks ago. If that isn't a damning assessment of a film, I don't know what is. This film just came out of nowhere all of a sudden when one of my horror websites I regularly frequent started championing it for its brilliance. It piqued my interest and I then learned that the director of the film was Bryan Bertino who directed the brilliant home invasion thriller “The Strangers”. I was now actually excited to see the film although I still remained skeptical due to the fact that the film was a “found footage” horror film; a sub-genre I have never liked. Well from the opening minute until the ridiculous end, I was bored out of my brain and could not believe this was made by the same guy who did “The Strangers”. Unfortunately I cannot add more about “Mockingbird” because I have appeared to have purged the film from my memory.


My reasons for watching “Jamie Marks Is Dead” mirrors the reason I saw “Mockingbird” as it also was directed by someone whose previous film I very much enjoyed. This time the director was Carter Smith who made the very underrated horror film “The Ruins” which was about killer plants if you can believe that. He did an amazing job with that, so I was quite excited when I heard he had returned to the genre with his latest effort. Just like “Mockingbird” it is hard to believe that the man responsible for “The Ruins” was the same person who created this absolute drivel. Again, I can remember very little about the film except that it didn't make a whole lot of sense and it had to do with a guy being haunted by the ghost of a former classmate who recently passed. I'm assuming the ghost needed help with something, who knows, I hated the film to care; in fact the whole time watching the film, all I wanted to do was turn it off and not bother with finishing it. The biggest issue I had with the film though was how did no one realise while they were making the film, that the ghost of Jamie Marks looked like the spitting image of Harry Potter in his underwear. The resemblance is so obvious that it just becomes distracting after awhile. Even though I cannot remember this film, I feel very confident in telling anyone that cares to see “Jamie Marks Is Dead”, to not bother with it. In fact avoid it at all cost.


I am a big fan of the “Ozploitation” films that hit Australian cinemas in the 70's and early 80's, but even I am not all that enamoured with the original 1982 version of “Turkey Shoot”. For mine it is actually one of the worst films of the recently coined sub-genre. It is sloppily made, poorly acted and has some shoddy gore but compared to the newly released remake of the same name, it is a bloody masterpiece. Not only is the 2014 version of “Turkey Shoot” the worst film I saw this year, it is also one of the worst films I have ever seen. It is even worse than my least favourite film from last year, “Dracula 3D”, and that is saying something. The quality of filmmaking on display here is beyond embarrassing, it is almost to the point of being incompetent. I saw the film at MIFF and I sat there with mouth agape, stunned at what I was witnessing. What made it all the more shocking was that this wasn't a film made by a no-named person, rather this was an accomplished Australian director who six years prior to this film, gave us the very well made thriller “Acolytes”. Every aspect of this film was so poorly done from direction, casting, acting, and editing, that when combined created a film that was not worthy for consumption. It seriously felt like it was a work in progress, and not a fully completed film. The computer effects on the film were so bad they looked as if they could have been done on a Commodore 64 back in the eighties. Besides all of this, the most laughable aspect of the film was the film's sets and locations with Melbourne very badly doubling for New York. Not once did this come off as believable and my favourite moment during the film happens when our main character runs through Melbourne Central Shopping Centre and then ends up on a very obvious Melbourne train. Oh my god!!! I hate this film with a passion and I do not want to waste another minute talking about it. “Turkey Shoot” was the worst film I saw in 2014; a film I gave no stars to, and if you ever find yourself in the position to see it, don't do it. Watch “Jamie Marks Is Dead” instead.

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