In a truly awful year, we just didn’t get a whole lot of movies released, reducing the pool of the bad movies as well as the good movies. If you were going to describe the years less than stellar movies, I think you’d say they were disappointing rather than infuriating. But there’s still plenty for us to throw shade at in this episode. The Scariest Things gets our adrenaline up, discussing our worst films of 2020.
For the Scariest Things, time is valuable. We don’t get paid to do this, and we do this for the love of film, so we tend to avoid movies that just scream “We didn’t even try! Come watch our lousy film!” So, what we usually fall prey to is watching the occasional boring independent film. (It’s true, those exist… and to be honest, more often than we’d like.) Considering how much we live to promote the small, plucky production, we have to admit sometimes they fall flat, or the directors show their inexperience jumping from the short format to the feature-length production.
The sin for many of the directors making the jump from the short film to the feature-length format is that they don’t have a subject that can take up the full run time. (Ari Aster being a big exception.) As a result, the films can really lose momentum and end up drowning in the shallows of their own making. They try, and they have the kernel of good ideas, but the unfortunate side effect of the slow-burn is the potential to make a movie that is BORING. I don’t enjoy picking on indie films, but this year The Yellow Night, Daytime Nightmares, Sunset on the River Styx, and Nina of the Woods all made me bored to the point of sleepy. Not all festival fare is inspiring and invigorating.
In due diligence, your intrepid reviewer, Eric, will take one for the team and watch a bunch of the wide-release films that have not, shall we say, received glowing reviews. But, there is a line in the sand that even Eric will not cross. And that’s a $20 early access price to watch Fantasy Island (Metacritic 22) to see if it’s as bad as everybody says it was. The same holds true for the remake of The Craft Legacy. (Metacritic 54) When that movie is available for free, I’ll take my chances, but if the rumors are true, why spend valuable time and earnings on a mediocre film. I also heard the remake of The Grudge (Metacritic 41) fell woefully short. And, considering I didn’t like the original The Boy, I wasn’t about to sign up for the similarly maligned Brahms: The Boy II (Metacritic 29).
In order to investigate what the major studio fare had to offer up this year, as I usually suspect stinkers to reside in the watered-down fare that is big production house safe-horror, I did manage to get to see Freaky, The Invisible Man, Underwater, New Mutants, Gretel and Hansel, You Should Have Left, and The Turning. The Invisible Man was fantastic (I’m a little embarrassed even mentioning it with the rest of these films… it’s how you do right by studio horror) Some of them were enjoyable, a couple were yawners, and ONE of these films managed to end up on my disreputable list for the year.
Liz managed to find films this year that she was really looking forward to, only to be left disappointed. She is, by her own admission, a “switcher offer” and won’t put up with a movie that immediately announces its skunky tendencies. But when she got someone else invested in watching it with her family or friends that she was obliged to watch it to the bloody finish.
Mike was lured in by the promise of a cool poster, or a director’s reputation, or by the request of a filmmaker to get a review… and got the old dumpster switcheroo. Sometimes you follow up on a promising lead and it leads to a museum of terror wonderment. Sometimes it’s a terror outhouse. And this year, with the slim pickings for horror movies, he stumbled into some material he regrets.
Our criteria may vary, and your mileage may vary, but take from our reviews… buyer beware! For those of you who indulge in movies so bad they are good, I don’t think you’re going to find much enjoyment factor from these films, but you are welcome to subject yourself to these movies and let us know that we were WRONG.
Here’s a roll call of the contenders for our worst of report: