I have the good fortune to be unable to put together a complete list of 10 of the worst horror films I have seen this year! This is mostly by design, as I avoid films that sound uninteresting to me, regardless of genre, and spend my time with films that I feel like I would appreciate. As a matter of fact, my goal each year – admittedly quite a lofty one – is to avoid bad movies altogether. Therefore, you won’t find entries here that you might read or hear about on other top-10-worst lists.
Still, a few clunkers slip by every year, and 2015 was no exception. I doubt that I will have many, if any, crossovers with the rest of the Gruesome Magazine staff, because (1) Doc Rotten and the rest of the Horror News Radio podcast Grue Crew gang were subjected to some major stinkers and (2) my selections were mostly screened at film festivals (at least four are widely available on VOD or other formats now, though).
One final note: I’m not a big fan of making “worst of” lists, because as we all know, one person’s least favorite movie might be someone else’s absolute favorite. Also, many people’s hearts and souls go into the making of films, and I doubt that few people set out for their labors of love to be considered truly bad. Therefore, please consider this list more along the lines of “the 6 horror films that I appreciated least this year.”
- Wind Walkers
Part of this year’s Eight Films to Die For series, this motion picture starts out with a promising, original premise and then squanders it on run-of-the-mill creatures. Boasting decent cinematography and direction but hampered by some mediocre performances that bring down the good ones, Wind Walkers isn’t a bad film, but it was often such slow going that it had me checking my watch a few times.
- American Burger
This English-language Swedish production was always entertaining while I watched it because of its high level of absurdity. The horror comedy American Burger is about an American high school tour group traveling through Europe that stumbles across a meat-packing plant that processes . . . well, the title should clue you in. From its often heavily accented cast speaking in English to its corny humor and everything in between, it’s the type of movie that you may want to try sitting through once just for the sheer wackiness. How much of that wackiness is intentional is a guessing game viewers can play. Splatter fans may have more patience with American Burger than others.
4. Sweet Home
This Spanish/Polish coproduction also aims for an international market with its English dialog, but it plays strictly by the numbers and offers nothing new to anyone who has seen even a few horror thrillers. Although Ingrid Garcia Johnson gives it a go as the main character, her performance isn’t enough to make up for the weak, ineffectual characters and thin plot. Sweet Home is paced like a videogame, where players go through lower-level baddies until they make it to the boss battle.
- There Are Monsters
I hate to put low-budget independent efforts on my list, but this Canadian film (not to be confused with the upcoming Bryan Bertino movie of the same name) from auteur Jay Dahl was a huge letdown for me. After seeing Dahl’s creepy short film of the same name, I had high hopes for this one, but between the shaky camerawork (the main characters are supposed to be university film students on an assignment but no one seems to know how to hold a camera still), weak characters and dialog (be prepared for a lot of arguing and swearing from people who don’t give us much to care about), and a plot lifted liberally from Invasion of the Body Snatchers, this one landed squarely on my list in July when I saw it at the Bucheon International Film Festival here in South Korea. The short is available on YouTube and I recommend giving it a watch because it shows that Jay Dahl has a lot of promise. It just wasn’t realized in this effort.
- The Stranger
Gloomy to the point of being borderline depressing – not what I look for in a horror film, though some do – this English-language Chilean effort (you’ll notice a current trend in horror filmmaking from my list) about vampires and revenge manages to offer no characters to invest in or cheer for, so why bother trudging through 93 minutes that feels twice as long? Its plot and technical shortcomings don’t help matters.
- House of Shadows (AKA Controra)
This Italian/Irish coproduction does the worst thing that any movie can do: it bored me stiff. Breathtaking scenery and gorgeous cinematography are wasted on a flat story, grating characters, and several subpar performances. The gothic premise never fully commits to horror, though there are a couple of potential jump scares for those not well versed in fright fare. An Irish wife goes digging into her Italian husband’s family secrets when they inherit his family’s mansion but the main character came off as annoying to me rather than someone who I hoped would unearth those secrets.