With 2015 drawing to a close, the holidays are upon us and the promise of a brand new year has a generation of genre fans in high hopes for another selection of classics and horrifying sights. But before we remember the joys and bright, shiny moments of the past 12 months, it is time to bash the films that smacked us upside the head for taking the 90 minutes or so out of our lives to journey into their imaginations, machinations and verbalizations. A little harsh, perhaps, guilty. But, the following films disappointed me the most over the past year.
Some of the films that follow are just offensive, a few set out to be as offensive as can be in the name of entertainment. Surely, each film will have its supporters – some, more so than others. Certainly there are films on other lists at Gruesome Magazine that will ignite shock and repulsion for their inclusion on a “Worst of” list – such are these kinds of lists.
2015 is shockingly full of films that fit the bill for Worst Horror Films of 2015, especially at the box office. Not many horror films succeeded at the theater this past year, and those that did are likely on a bottom list or two regardless of their monetary gains. Many could easily be on this list – Poltergeist, The Gallows, The Visit (although at least one of those would be on a guilty pleasure list, d’oh). Many of the better films this past year are found on VOD, finding it difficult to get into a theater; but, then again many of the biggest misses are found there too.
Without further ado, here is my list of the worst horror films of 2015.
10- A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night
Written and directed by Ana Lily Amirpour. Every year, there is one great film that fails to impress me. In the past is has been films like Drive and Her to name a few. This year is no exception. In fact, 2015 is unusually full of them. The one that takes the first spot on this year’s list is one that will likely make many “best of” lists. The inclusion of A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night is purely a subjective one, where the style, the characters, the tone, the story and the message did not register with me. I found it dull and uninteresting. Where others found certain films insightful and inspired, I can only describe them as infuriating and aggravating. With its message so lost on me, it is sole entry on this list that I would place up for reconsideration. But, until the, it just is not for me.
9- Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension
Directed by Gregory Plotkin and written by Jason Pagan & Andrew Deutschman, Adam Robitel & Gavin Hefferman along story by Brantley Aufill. It pains me to put Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension on my list. I remain a fan of found footage and of the Paranormal Activity franchise, but The Ghost Dimension fails to understand most all the principals that go into making the story, the style and the thrills that propel the fun and enjoyment of a Paranormal Activity film. It takes the story nowhere. It painfully repeats much of what has transpired prior. It repeats and regurgitates elements already seen – and for the better – in the previous films. It contains no suspense or chills. It even misses the opportunity to take full advantage of the 3D sequences – its strongest addition for the 5th installment, 6th if you include The Marked Ones.
8- The Lazarus Effect
Directed by David Gelb and written by Luke Dawson & Jeremy Slater. I am not entirely certain what happened with this film, it just went off the rails into “stupid” land. The film has a promising spin on a Flatliners vibe but loses its grip on its intended focus and tone. It just flops. Terribly. Which is a huge disappointment as it has a terrific cast including Olivia Wilde, Mark Duplass, Evan Peters and Donald Glover. It even has a role for Ray Wise until it unceremoniously edits his appearance in the film down to a glorified cameo. The Lazarus Effect becomes another example of supporting the notion that January and February are dumping grounds, especially for genre films. Boo, hiss.
7- The Vatican Tapes
Director Mark Neveldine and written by Chris Morgan, Christopher Borrelli & Michael C. Martin. Wow, what the hell were the team behind The Vatican Tapes truly after. No one seems to be acting in the same movie, it is all over the place. Michael Pena doesn’t even seem to be invested at all, providing a surprisingly lazy performance especially for someone who can really shine in his films (see: Ant-Man). The story meanders around until the finale which has a few highlights and then loses steam quickly. May do for possession films what Ghost Dimension did for found footage.
6- Fear Clinic
Directed by Robert Hall and written Hall & Aaron Drane. A pattern is developing in this list: take a decent idea, give it a decent cast and a capable director but deliver a confused, jumbled mess that completely misses the opportunities afforded it. Fear Clinic strikes out like few others. Instead of concentrating on Robert Englund and the more intriguing concepts of exploring what fears scare us the most, the film introduces some nonsense surrounding Thomas Dekker and his bullshit back-story. Gah! More frustrating than anything else, Fear Clinic squarely plants itself at the center of the disappointing, wasted opportunity circle.
5- Harbinger Down
Written and Directed by Alec Gillis. The theme continues on with Harbinger Down. What could be more promising than a practicle effects heavy creature feature from the team behind many of the most recent monster features including but not limited to the Alien and Predator franchises? Add in star Lance Henriksen and a successful crowd-funding campaign that promises to deliver on the effects for the recent Thing sequel/prequel that were tossed aside for CGI. Can Alec Gillis deliver? Sadly, no, far from it. Stilted direction, a painfully derivative story and a horrible mishandling of the effect themselves places Harbinger Down on the list as the most disappointing feature of the year.
4- The Boy Next Door
Directed by Rob Cohen. Written by Barbara Curry. Starring Jennifer Lopez, Ryan Guzman, Ian Nelson, John Corbett and Kristin Chenoweth, The Boy Next Door is just laughably bad. Just bad, bad, bad – almost bad enough to good for being bad. Almost. Seriously, this movie is laugh out loud bad. It is stupid people making stupid decisions for stupid reasons to push a stupid plot forward for no good reason other than to exploit and titillate but in the most goofy, silly fashion imaginable. In a story where a one-night stand turns deadly, I am still undecided if the cast was in on how bad it was going to be as they committed their performances to film or if they are honestly giving it their absolute best. If the latter, it makes the bad that much more laughable. Oh, boy.
Written and Directed by Steve Wolsh. Although the film is ambitious for beginning its self proclaimed trilogy with the middle act, it does not seem to know what to do with it – or at least to tell its tale without narratively informing its audience to what the flippin’ hell is actually going on. This film is a miscalculated, misconstrued, absolute mess. It makes little – if any – sense. If features a group of characters on the run and few others on the hunt and an unrecognizable Kane Hodder as a leader of a group of albinos for a hot second. It’s exploitation without any thing relevant or worthy to exploit. Bleh.
Written and directed by Tara Subkoff. Much like Ana Lily Amirpour’s A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night, Subkoff’s #Horror is a god-awful gaggle of style over substance. The most pretentious film of the list, it wears its messages blatantly on screen much as its poorly conceived app-game-styled transitions. #Horror is painfully boring and insulting. It fails to garner enough interest in its young leads making them uninteresting, clichÃ©d and nauseatingly dull. The story is pointless and the horror (for a film titled #Horror) is non-existent. One of the few films of the years where I truly want my 90 minutes back and mean it.
Directed by Arthur Cullipher. Written by Nathan Erdel and Todd Rigney. Not many films have such a strong negative effect on me as Headless does. Catching the film at the Crimson Screen Horror Film Festival in Charleston, South Carolina, I really despise this film. There are fans of this film, those who love it for the extremes it reaches and the gore it contains. I find the film offensive, grotesque and disgusting. Somehow, I think this the very reaction they are striving for. It is also repetitive, shoving the more taboo-breaking visuals into our faces over and over again. This is the only film I can say that ever elicited the raw emotion out of me where I wanted to punch somebody after seeing the film — it made me so angry.