Netflix has a history of churning out bad original movies and then sweeping them under the rug, hoping they’ll get lost in the endless black hole of titles available for streaming. It feels like whenever it comes time to market a Netflix original, the streaming giant is suspiciously silent. Of course, sometimes this in on purpose: if the company knows it made a clunker, it tries to get the release over with without drawing attention to the misstep.
Netflix original movies that are bombs are a lot easier to bury than movies released traditionally in theater, which is why some of these terrible films are able to secretly debut on Netflix and then lurk there forever, never to be heard of again, much less recommended for you by Netflix’s algorithm.
Here are 15 Terrible Netflix Original Movies You Completely Forgot About.
15. War Machine
Putting Brad Pitt in a war satire seems like a good idea in theory, but it didn’t work out in practice for Netflix. For satire to work, it has to be water-tight. And War Machine was not: the film earned a middling Rotten Tomatoes score of 53%.
Pitt is funny some of the time, though, and the film is a treasure trove of his ridiculous faces. The film is based on the nonfiction book The Operators: The Wild and Terrifying Inside Story of America’s War in Afghanistan by journalist Michael Hastings. It’s a chronicle of the reporter’s time spent with General Stanley McChrystal.
14. The Discovery
The Discovery has a chilling premise: a world in which the existence afterlife has been proven scientifically. The discovery was made by Dr. Thomas Harbor (Robert Redford), and as a result, humans are committing suicide in droves, hoping to be able to start their lives over in the next world and achieve a better existence than their current one.
As much as we want this movie to be good, it divided critics and earned itself a 44% on Rotten Tomatoes. Reviewers agreed that while the concept of a world in which the afterlife exists is fascinating, but the movie’s plot is non-existent. Jason Segel also stars as Harbor’s son and Rooney Mara plays his suicidal acquaintance. Jesse Plemons, Riley Keough, and Mary Steenburgen round out the talented cast.
13. Message from the King
The “king” in Message from the King isn’t a monarch: rather, he is a chain-wielding man named Jacob King who’s hell-bent on revenge.
King, played by Chadwick Boseman (Marvel’s Black Panther), travels from South Africa to Los Angeles looking for his sister. When he finds out that she’s dead, he swears to avenge her death. Message from the King premiered at the 2016 Toronto International Film Festival, and Netflix released it on August 4, 2017 to little fanfare.
It is helmed by Belgian director Fabrice du Welz and also stars Alfred Molina, Luke Evans, and Tom Felton.
The Playlist, one of the only major publications to review the film, wrote, “While its story moves forward in a way that makes sense, Du Welz’s pacing is too slow and too choppy for the movie to build up much momentum.”
12. Small Crimes
Is Game of Thrones‘ Nikolaj Coster-Waldau a big enough name to carry a Netflix original movie? Apparently not, Netflix learned. Small Crimes scored a rotten 58% on Rotten Tomatoes. But it wasn’t universally panned, at least. Critics called it a solid, if sometimes tiring, crime thriller.
Small Crimes premiered at South by Southwest, and Netflix bought the distribution rights and released it on April 28, 2017.
Here’s the story: a former cop (Coster-Waldau) has just been prison after serving a six-year sentence for attempted murder. He returns home looking for redemption, but he can’t escape his sinister past. The movie is based on crime noir writer Dave Zeltserman’s critically-acclaimed novel of the same name. Gary Cole (Veep, Office Space) and character actress Jacki Weaver (Silver Linings Playbook, Stoker) also star.
11. Take The 10
Did you want to see more of Tony Revolori (aka Flash Thompson) after Spider-Man: Homecoming? Well, he’s in this Netflix original movie that no one has even heard of. It also stars Josh Peck and literally no one else.
“What? Beloved former Nickelodeon star Josh Peck is in a Netflix movie? Why didn’t I know about this?” you ask. Probably because… it’s not very good. Peck and Revolori play two hip-hop loving guys who go to a hip-hop concert. Also, this is the second time Peck has played a guy who likes hip-hop: the first time was in 2008’s much more well-received indie The Wackness.
10. Girlfriend’s Day
Girlfriend’s Day is abysmal. That’s strange, because it comes from Bob Odenkirk, who’s usually a funny actor and writer. But this movie is flat, pointless, and feels like it’s 5 hours long. Even Odenkirk seems to be just trying to get it over with.
The title refers to a potentially profitable new holiday made up by Odenkirk’s character, Ray, a celebrated greeting card writer who’s in a slump. But that’s not really what the movie is about: instead, it turns into a hackneyed crime drama movie so boring that you’re just begging for it to be over.
No one really acknowledged the arrival of Girlfriend’s Day on Netflix: the film has so few reviews it doesn’t even have a Rotten Tomatoes score. But most of the critics who did review the film did not see it in a favorable light.
9. You Get Me
Disney Channel and Freeform star Bella Thorne plays the “other woman” who just won’t go away in teen thriller You Get Me.
Here’s the story: couple Tyler and Ali break up, and Tyler immediately sleeps with a stranger named Holly (Thorne). When Ali wants to get back together, Holly won’t be shoved aside, and proves to be a deadly problem for the pair.
The other stars, Halston Sage and Taylor John Smith, aren’t very well-known. Sage broke into the business in 2011 and had roles in Paper Towns and Goosebumps. Taylor John Smith’s first role was as an extra in The Hunger Games, credited (or rather, according to IMDb, uncredited) as Propaganda Film Tribute, which pretty much sums up his early career. He went on to land a role in American Crime.
8. Sand Castle
It seems like every Netflix original movie these days is a war movie. The plot of Sand Castle follows a squad of U.S. soldiers protecting a small village during the Iraq War in 2003.
The film, which was released April 21, 2017 scored a 47% rotten rating on Rotten Tomatoes. It stars Henry Cavill (our most recent Superman) and Nicholas Hoult (Mad Max: Fury Road, X-Men) as some serious soldier guys with buzz cuts. Sand Castle was screenwriter Chris Roessner’s first feature. The director is Fernando Coimbra, who previously wrote and directed A Wolf at the Door in 2013.
7. Shimmer Lake
Shimmer Lake is billed as a crime thriller told backwards over the course of a week. The story follows a sheriff as he investigates a mystery involving three small-town criminals and a bank heist. Despite the interesting Memento-like storytelling premise, hardly anyone has heard of Shimmer Lake.
The Netflix original movie came out on June 9, 2017 and stars Benjamin Walker (Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, The Choice) as the aforementioned sheriff. A deranged-looking Rainn Wilson costars, and Rob Corddry, Adam Pally, and John Michael Higgins round out the cast. Notice how the majority of the cast are comedy actors? There’s an unexpected amount of humor in this crime thriller.
6. Coin Heist
This little-known Netflix original movie starring Pretty Little Liars‘ Sasha Pieterse and literally no one else of note is about a group of high school student who try to steal from the U.S. Mint. The synopsis lays the stereotypes right out for us: the teens are a group of “unlikely allies” made up of “the hacker, the slacker, the athlete, and the perfect student.”
Coin Heist is based on the YA novel of the same name by Elisa Ludwig. It didn’t bode very well for the film that the writer/director Emily Hagins’ resume is filled with movies no one has ever heard of, like My Sucky Teen Romance and Grow Up, Tony Phillips.
5. David Brent: Life on the Road
David Brent: Life on the Road is an Office spinoff that nobody asked for or wanted, except maybe Ricky Gervais. The worst part is that Netflix didn’t even make this movie. The UK’s Entertainment One made it, and then Netflix made the decision to buy the distribution rights. Netflix, are you okay?
In this film, David Brent has moved on from his job at Wernham Hogg and is now pursuing his lifelong dream of being a rock star. Gervais’ The Office and the subsequent American version starring Steve Carell were both so great.
4. Handsome: A Netflix Mystery Movie
What is it about actor/comedians making terrible Netflix original movies? Adam Sandler, Kevin James, Ricky Gervais, and now Jeff Garlin have done it. If you don’t recognize Jeff Garlin’s name, you’ll know his face. The comedian and actor is known for Curb Your Enthusiasm, The Goldbergs, Daddy Day Care, Arrested Development, and more.
The comedy/mystery centers on an LA homicide detective named Gene Handsome, played by Garlin. You’d be forgiven for not even realizing Handsome had come out: it was barely acknowledged by Netflix, critics, and audiences alike.
This is the second film that Garlin has written and directed, after 2013’s Dealin’ with Idiots. That film was pretty badly received, scoring a 37% on Rotten Tomatoes. It seems that Garlin’s own projects don’t do nearly as well as the popular TV shows he appears on.
3. What Happened to Monday
More like “What Happened to Any PR For This Movie?”
You’d think that six=time Academy Award-nominated actress Glenn Close’s Netflix original movie would at least get some buzz, but not so much… The film managed to achieve a fresh 60% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, but What Happened to Monday‘s visibility could certainly be better.
This dystopian thriller sees Noomi Rapace (known for playing Lisbeth Salander in the original Swedish The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo) playing a seven identical twin sisters. They live in a world where families have been limited to one child due to overpopulation. To avoid being found out, their grandfather Terrence (Willem Dafoe) trains the sisters pose as a single person. He names each girl after the days of the week and they only leave the house on the day they are name after.
2. The Most Hated Woman In America
This bold title refers to Madalyn Murray O’Hair, founder of “American Atheists,” whose fervent campaign to ban official Bible readings in public schools made her the enemy of the segment of the American population that was fervently religious.
In 1995, O’Hair and her family were kidnapped and murdered by a former employee of American Atheists. Despite our cultural obsession with true crime, The Most Hated Woman in America received only a 43% on Rotten Tomatoes.
Critics agreed that the biopic mishandled the fascinating career of this historical figure. “The fiery breadth of the woman’s life as a professional poke in religious America’s eye is missing from this narrow, ineffectual offering, which presents itself as true-crime saga and bad-mommy soap opera more than a portrait of a complicated individual,” wrote Robert Abele of The Wrap.
1. Special Correspondents
Special Correspondents is a dreadfully unfunny Ricky Gervais comedy that scored a scandalously bad 16% on Rotten Tomatoes.
The movie follows a journalist (Eric Bana) and his producer (Gervais), who, after failing to make it to the scene of a rebel uprising in South America, hide out in New York and fake the footage instead. Even with a very safe premise, the film fails to bring the laughs. America Ferrera, who co-stars, deserves much better than the stereotypical Hispanic character she plays.
The plot also shoehorns in a romance for Gervais that feels forced, and actually not even that romantic: his married character Ian Finch realizes he has feelings for his co-worker (Kelly MacDonald) after almost getting himself killing while eventually actually going to South America. Yawn.
What’s the worst Netflix original movie you’ve seen? Sound off in the comments!
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