BY KEVIN CARR
One of my favorite things to do at the end of the year is to hurl my venom at the worst movies I’ve been forced to watch for the last twelve months. Sure, everyone likes good films, but it’s turning the screws to the life-sucking, waste-of-space movies that really makes things fun. In 2014, we have seen an unfortunate return of the dreaded found-footage movie (though fortunately, few of these made any significant profit this year). There’s also some sequels in the mix that lived down (or below) the originals. It wasn’t a banner year for bad films, per se, but there was no shortage of them (and Tyler Perry only made it to the dishonorable mentions this year, which is nice).
10. THE PURGE: ANARCHY
I was not a big fan of the original “The Purge,” feeling it lacked the depth of thought and character construction that the overall concept deserved. However, I could appreciate that movie for the low-budget piece of speculative home invasion horror that it was. As the filmmakers tried to make the “Purge” universe bigger with “The Purge: Anarchy,” things fell apart. Suffering from logic issues, character inconsistencies, pompous moments of preaching, and the conflicting desire to both condemn and glorify violence, “The Purge: Anarchy” missed the mark on all levels.
In general, I don’t hate Brett Ratner. Actually, against my better judgement, I tend to like his movies. However, the neutering of the Hercules legend was a disaster this past summer. Everything that makes Hercules cool was left in the dust, presenting a simplified version of hero worship that was no less ridiculous and no more realistic than the stories of a Greek demigod. Plus, it was boring… even if I tend to like Dwayne Johnson as an action star.
8. THE BEST OF ME
Nicholas Sparks has quickly become the wussified milktoast version of Tyler Perry movies for me. I honestly don’t know whose filmography I disdain more. Sparks’ most recent film is so loaded with cliches, it’s almost impossible to watch. The characters are sappy and corny, and every single item in Sparks’ bag of tricks is thrown down with no surprise or wonder. Still, nothing can be worse in this film than casting adult stars who look nothing like their 20-year-younger counterparts or the redneck family villains who elicit guffaws from the audience when they show up on screen.
Please stop trying to make Leslie Mann happen. She was cute once, back in the 90s, before age took away her freshness. Now, void of acting and comedic talent, she remains nothing but a shrill annoyance that gets parts because she’s married to a powerful producer in Hollywood. Compounding Mann’s terrible presence in this film is Cameron Diaz delivering her worst performance of the year (and that’s saying something considering how awful she was in both “Sex Tape” and “Annie”). Sure, Kate Upton is fun to look at, but she can’t deliver a line with any credibility. We’re left with a pointless film with three unfunny women that doesn’t hold together with story or characters.
6. INTO THE STORM
And here it is… my first found footage film in my list. Though not the traditional horror movie (which was also the case with the full-of-potential-but-killed-in-execution “Earth to Echo”), “Into the Storm” tries to deliver an action movie in the cheeky tradition of “Twister.” Instead, it spends half its time justifying the presence of the cameras and letting its characters make some of the worst decisions made on the big screen I’ve ever seen.
Another found footage movie, and sadly one that comes from decent roots. What was innovative in “Paranormal Activity” and “Paranormal Activity 3” has been tossed out the window for this entirely derivative and unimaginative horror film. The things that differentiated this series – the use of a static, locked-down camera and the use of suspense over jump-scares – are gone completely. What we’re left with is an attempt to branch out the tired world of the series but offer no new concepts, explanations or ideas.
Not having seen the original Kirk Cameron “Left Behind” opus, I am unfamiliar with the source material. However, considering Nicolas Cage has been slumming it in direct-to-video flicks for the past few years, it’s no surprise that this new version of “Left Behind” should have been left in the can. With a dumbed down theology presented with the depth of a religious tract handed out at an airport, “Left Behind” would be offensive to pretty much everyone if it were so fiercely boring.
I’ll be honest… I don’t remember a lot about this movie… just that it was bad and painful to watch. Meant to capitalize on the paranormal teen romances that are popular today, it takes a look at witches at a private school. The characters leap across chasms of logic to do morally questionable things that are presented as justified actions. It’s hard to follow the plot as the film mopes along though a veil of teen angst. This movie is so bad, I saw it in a double feature with “The Identical,” and it is the one that stood out as the worst one.
I have to wonder if the producers of “A Haunted House” (which ranked at #8 on my 10 Worst Films of 2013 list) were trying to figure out a way to make the movie worse. The answer was to make a sequel and recycle half the jokes, saving the other half for bad pop culture references that will be stale in three weeks. Even though this was also a found footage offering, it abandons its own found footage rules with only half-hearted attempts to pretend the characters are still holding the camera. This felt like the “Police Academy 5” of the series, and it was only the first sequel.
Quite easily, this is the worst attempt at found footage horror I’ve seen in a long while… and that’s counting “The Last Exorcism 2.” It uses all the found footage cliches and offers no logic to the characters’ actions. Forget people not rewinding tapes to see what happened to them earlier in the night. “Devil’s Due” introduces elements to the plot that are abandoned from the overall story and never heard from again. Rather than being a cohesive story, “Devil’s Due” is a hodge-podge of vignettes trying to play off a far better horror foundation built in “The Exorcist.” What else should I have expected from a group of filmmakers best known for staging fake pranks on YouTube.
“Before I Go to Sleep,” “The Identical,” “As Above / So Below,” “Wish I Was Here,” “Tammy,” “Earth to Echo,” “Wish I Was Here,” “The Single Moms Club,” “The Fault in Our Stars,” “Winter’s Tale,” “I, Frankenstein”