Time Magazine listed its 10 Worst Movies of 2012 last month, but the choices left us cold (Cloud Atlas, John Carter and The Lorax made the cut). We propose an alternative 10 Movies Worse Than Time’s ‘Worst of 2012’, to recognize what we feel are genuine bad movies – not just disappointments or things that aren’t our cup of tea.
From misconceived comic book adaptations to found-footage horror schlock, these are ten films released in 2012 that left us marveling at just how much can go wrong with a motion picture. Do you agree/disagree with our selections? Read on and find out (if you dare).
[These are listed in order and contain a few SPOILERS.]
Screenwriter David Louka recycles parts from Jane Eyre and Psycho – and used them in a tale about modern teenagers – to create last year’s forgettable Jennifer Lawrence thriller House at the End of the Street.
You might think a mix of Gothic and Hitchcockian themes in a movie for the Twilight demographic would be fascinating; or, at the least, memorably bad. However, HATES just steals the twists from its inspiration (not substance) and repackages them in a story that’s sorta about a woman (Elisabeth Shue) learning to be a proper mother (emphasis on “sorta”).
Mark Tonderai’s unfocused direction doesn’t help, either. By the time the film devolves into “killer chases blonde” during the third act, the realization sinks in: it’s all so lame, there’s no need to remember much once you’ve left the theater.
Director James McTeigue’s The Raven makes this list if for no other reason than it promotes the misconception that Edgar Allan Poe’s stories are, well… kind of boring.
John Cusack does his best to make the movie version of Poe interesting, but Ben Livingston and Hanna Shakespeare’s script seems more focused on stringing together gruesome murder set pieces based on the author’s most famous works (“The Pit and the Pendulum”, “The Tell-Tale Heart”, etc.). That is, without carrying over the qualities that make them so horrifying to read on the printed page.
Poe is the credited inventor of the detective fiction genre, so a murder-mystery where his macabre tales come to life – and explain his perplexing death – is a great idea (in theory). However, poor execution wastes all that potential.
We’re not Paranormal Activity franchise haters, so it was all the more frustrating to watch Paranormal Activity 4 drop the ball after three installments well-received by our staff.
Directors Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman collaborated with PA2 writer Christopher Landon on PA3, making (in essence) a prequel that builds on the ideas of its predecessors and uses found-footage to say something about (the rise of) videophile culture. The trio reunited for PA4, but forgot to include those key aspects.
PA4 avoids being a complete disaster (thanks to some clever sequences and camera tricks), but an over-strung storyline and weakly rehashed scares make it the weakest chapter yet. We’re still dreading Paranormal Activity 5; just not for the right reasons.
Things were rough for The Watch from the get-go, following indie Brit alien invasion flick Attack the Block and Trayvon Martin’s tragic death (prompting a title/marketing change). Ultimately, though, it didn’t need the “help.”
Evan Goldberg, Seth Rogen and Jared Stern’s script boasts a clever premise that playfully jabs at the American suburban lifestyle and masculine identity, as brought to life by four funny-guys (Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn, Jonah Hill and Richard Ayoade). Too bad it’s buried beneath a sea of bland sex jokes and lewd humor that often feels like (sloppy) improvisation.
Director Akiva Schaffer shares some blame, as proceedings rarely zip by with enough manic energy. Even “outrageous” payoffs – such as Billy Crudup’s neighborhood orgy or Vaughn literally castrating his daughter’s two-bit (alien) boyfriend – leave you yawning, not laughing out loud.
Eddie Murphy’s comedy-drama A Thousand Words almost succeeds as a brilliant satire of high-concept yuckfests written by Steve Koren (Bruce Almighty, Click) and directed by Brian Robbins (The Shaggy Dog, Norbit)… almost.
We might believe that was intentional, given how characters respond to motor-mouth Jack (Murphy) going silent is so far removed from reality; or, how Cliff Curtis’ spiritual teacher has nothing better to do than teach this (sorta) jerk a lesson, under the threat of death. However, by the time Jack finds emotional closure with his deceased father, it sure feels like everything’s meant to be taken seriously.
Again, maybe A Thousand Words really is too deep for us. Either way, it has a 0% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, so we’re not alone in our skepticism.
Love ’em or hate ’em, filmmakers Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor are practically avant-garde when it comes to how they approach juvenile pop action (see: Crank, Crank 2, Gamer). However, we feel Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance is a failed experiment for the duo.
The Crank movies work because star Jason Statham commits to a kinetic “plot” that feels made up along the way; yet, it manages to both celebrate and spoof trashy action tropes (via deft-defying handheld camerawork). Spirit of Vengeance feels like an attempt to substitute a superhero mythos (co-adapted by David Goyer) for generic action into that formula.
However, things fail to come together so well because the directors have less affection for the Ghost Rider mythos (by their own admittance) and it shows. Similarly, Nicolas Cage’s central performance – and the cast in general – is hammy, but too predictably kooky for its own good.
Here, ambition refers to how Allison Burnett’s script subverts the misogyny of Film Noir with a femme-powered tale about a world that disrespects women and promotes a culture of violence against them. The problem is Seyfried’s character’s behavior is so implausible as to inadvertently reinforce the crazy feminist stereotype.
Furthermore, director Heitor Dhalia’s imitation of Noir tropes jars with the modern setting. It’s neither self-referencing (see: Brick) nor a proper genre updating (see: Bound) and ends up feeling kitschy, as a result.
Chernobyl Diaries might’ve been more tolerable had it just gone the distance and been a true found-footage movie, but it ends up having the same narrative/technical shortcomings (without the pseudo-reality angle to fall back on).
Paranormal Activity creator Oren Peli co-wrote and produced the film, which fails to properly utilize its nightmarish setting for spooky effect; not to mention, the moral undertones of the story (about Americans exploiting a European tragedy for their own entertainment) get lost in the fray.
Thinly-sketched characters, herky-jerky camerawork and a sudden, ambiguous, ending are more acceptable in a found-footage flick. Otherwise, they come off as lazy (as is the case here).
It wasn’t all bad news for found-footage films last year (see: Chronicle), but things really got off on the wrong foot with The Devil Inside.
Director William Brent Bell and co-writer Matthew Peterman’s script starts off exploring mother-daughter issues, but that’s abandoned in favor of touching on church corruption, true sin and the line between religion and science (none of which are satisfyingly examined). When combined with flimsy shock tactics, the result’s a film that is not all that smart or scary.
Yes, the filmmakers were aiming for realism (and not just with that infuriating conclusion), but something like Chronicle demonstrates there’s a better way to achieve that.
And our pick for Worst Movie of 2012 is…
Marketing for writer-director Todd Lincoln’s The Apparition teased an ingenious setup: a young couple’s (Ashley Greene and Sebastian Stan) dreams for the future are shattered by a dark secret, embodied by a metaphorical specter which kills people once they believe in it. The problem is the second half of that premise has virtually nothing to do with the actual movie.
Frankly, The Apparition is a mind-boggling failure. It often forgets basic film school standards for how to shoot a movie, relies on hilariously ineffective cross-cutting and relentless techno-beat score to (not) create tension, has flat-out inane dialogue and acting, and no suspense to boot.
What else is there to say? This flick’s a mess.
That’s My Boy – Adam Sandler’s latest could’ve been a witty and idiosyncratic raunch-com about father-son neurosis; one that roots for the dysfunctional lower class, no less. If only the jokes and storytelling weren’t so darn lazy…
Piranha 3DD – Remember how Piranha 3D reveled in its B-movie campiness and trashy content, delivering kitsch horror “art?” Well, director John Gulager’s sequel fails to repeat that trick.
Underworld: Awakening – Sometimes, it’s best to quit while you’re ahead, and the latest Underworld installment probably should’ve heeded that advice. True facts: this film was also co-written by Gone scribe Allison Burnett, sorry to say.
What did you feel were the worst movies of 2012? Let us know in the comments section.