2019 In Film Day 1 (The Bad)

This year was a bad year for film. I’m not sure if it was that there were more bad films, or more of the films I saw were bad, or even whether its just the ones that were bad were REALLY bad. I’d say there are at least three films here which are contenders for the worst I’ve ever seen. Normally for these, there are a few controversial choices. For this I’m confident there are none. There are zero which I feel bad about, zero that I feel hesitant about saying.

Black Christmas

I have not seen the original, or the first remake. As such I have no idea whether it’s a good remake or not. I do know it’s a bad film. The story is realistic for the first half and then goes supernatural in the final section. The universe within the film hasn’t set this up as being possible so it’s a bit out of left field (whilst also surprisingly being really predictable, I guessed it in the opening title card).

Original review here

+It made me think of this song

-It’s really white. We need a feminist horror movie and this isn’t it.

Bright Burn

Okay, maybe this one. The worse thing about this was the expectation. I wanted this to be really good, and this is just awful. It spends so much time in the shadow of Superman, that it never really stands out on its own merits. This is a big issue as anybody familiar with the superman mythos knows exactly what is going to happen, and it all unfolds exactly as expected, and that’s it. The entire film is just building up to a moment everybody already knows is going to happen. Because of this you’re never really lost in the film.

Original review here

+The performances are fine, and the ending teaser is brilliant.

-Doesn’t do anything fun with the unique idea it has. It’s essentially a student film idea on a large budget.

Crawl

I’ve actually seen some positive reviews of this, one of which called it one of the hidden gems of 2019. Weirdly, one of the positives they outlined, is a negative for me. They said they loved how the characters did stupid things as it made it fun, I hated it for the exact same reason. It felt like character stupidity was only there to artificially increase the run-time. It didn’t work as it’s still a short film, although I did feel every single one of the 90 minutes. I didn’t think a 90-minute action film could be so god damn tedious.

Original review here

+It all FEELS real. There are no CGI issues.

-Stupid character decisions.

Escape Room

This was deeply flawed, deeply. It’s a fine concept, but the film doesn’t suit the concept. Often with franchised horror movies, the sequels weren’t written as sequels, they were stand-alone scripts that a studio exec saw and just rewrote to fit into an existing franchise. That’s how this one feels, like a hastily written sequel made to fit into a franchise it doesn’t belong. For a stand-alone film that’s an indication of a terrible script. It’s worse than that, it’s a terrible script which wastes a great concept. A horror movie set in an escape room is a genius idea (but yeah you would struggle to differentiate it from the Saw franchise), and it’s worthy of a, at the very least, mediocre film. At this point it’s not so much even about the quality, I just wanted it to be interesting, and it didn’t manage that.

Original review here

+Good performances, especially from Nik Dodani.

-The film starts with a character trying to escape a certain room. That room doesn’t appear until near the end, so the whole time you’re watching it you know that character is safe. Plus, some of the “riddles” take WAY too long for the character to get there.

Hellboy

The creative arts has a problem with maturity. Often something is described as “mature” when really it just has tits, violence, and swearing (but never penis, never penis). Ironically this means it then comes off as immature. This film is the best example of it. It’s like a 14 year old drinking his first beer, talking about all the vegines he’s fingered until they’ve cum down their arm.

Original review here

+if you’re 13 you’ll love it

-if not it’s a piece of shit.

I Love My Mum

I can’t really say I was disappointed by this as I had low expectations. It’s a fun concept but the characters are just too annoying to carry the film. One of the main characters is incredibly easy to dislike, and it makes it hard to enjoy the film.

Original review here

+Some good lines

-Badly written characters

Killer Kate

I expected this to be fun shlock. Instead, it’s just bad. The writing is bad, the pacing is terrible, and the less said about the acting the better. It just feels low-budget. There’s not really a sense of drama or suspense to the whole thing. It’s not scary enough to be a horror, and it’s not funny enough to be a comedy. I’d barely qualify it as a film.

Original review here

+There’s a really smart piece of writing involving a pizza guy (yes, I know how porny that sounds)

-The lead performance is incredibly wooden

Red Joan

I assumed this would be interesting. I was incorrect. It wasn’t helped by the fact that Judi Dench is barely in it. Plus the characters’ motivations are muddled. She says she spied for noble motivations, but thats not what we see. From what the film shows us her motivation was lust. Not quite as noble

Original review here

+The modern day parts are great.

-But not long enough.

Songbird

This is way too improv-based. As such it doesn’t really have a structure. A lot of the scenes are just unfocused and don’t seem to have a point to them. It’s a shame as I like both people in it, but the film really needs a purpose.

Original review here

+It’s always nice to see Jessica Hynes in things

-Purposeless

The Curse Of La Llorona

I didn’t catch this at the cinema, instead watching it on a laptop at home. I’m glad I didn’t see it at the cinema as I would have been so annoyed had I taken time out of my day to walk down the cinema for this. This is a very Latin film made through a very white lens. It feels very American, like they didn’t fully understand the legend they were adapting. They’ve reduced it to a generic “thing goes woo” tale.

Original review here

+It is an interesting tale, albeit one that’s not in this film

-Incredibly generic

The Kitchen

Nowhere near as interesting as it should be. I think part of it is due to how badly written any characters except the main ones are. Characters appear only to be killed. There were times when people died and I didn’t even realise who they were until about 5 scenes later. Original review here

+Domhnall Gleeson is brilliant in it.

-The entire plot of the film, all the plotting and twists, is undone in 5 seconds.

Wolf

I’m going to get personal here. As some may know, I have a history of depression and anxiety. It’s always been there but sometimes it’s worse than others, it hit really bad in September. I was left in a state where I couldn’t really motivate myself to do anything, and it made writing really hard. I couldn’t even muster enough energy to go down cinema, and as such I missed out on a few films I wanted to see (Ready Or Not chief among them). Now I’m not saying this film is ENTIRELY to blame.

Original review here

+Great concept, and there’s one section where the make-up is amazing.

-Everything else.

X-Men: Dark Phoenix

Definitely the worst X-men movie (yes, even worse than Origins). The worst possible way to end the franchise. Made all the more disappointing by how good Logan was. There’s nothing specifically bad about it, all of it is. It doesn’t work in any way. Apparently the story it’s based on is quite a big deal, but it’s now had two really bad films based on it. Has it ruined it?

Original review here

+Everyone involved in it will someday cease to exist.

-The villains motivations are undeveloped.

Killer Kate (2018)

I watched the trailer for this before seeing it (something I try to do now with films with bad reviews that I haven’t heard about, a policy I have started since Wolf). The trailer for this got me hyped, it looked kind of shlocky but fun. Plus, the film was under 90 minutes so I thought it won’t overstay its welcome. That goodwill was evaporated in the opening scene. It wasn’t badly shot, it was just weirdly shot in terms of the editing and shot choices. It wasn’t a great introduction to some of the characters, with some showing traits which they don’t show for the rest of the film. It’s understandable that they would be behaving in that way within the context of what they’re about to do (kill a group of people), but if you have that in the introduction to them it feels like it’s a character trait, so for that to not happen is a bit weird. It’s also strange that that’s how they start the film. The first thing we see in this film is a scene about the group of killers, and it stays with them for a good while, which makes it seem like they’re the focus of the story, like we’re following their arc and seeing how they’re going to come together to work as a team to kill people. The actual main characters are a group of young women on a pre-wedding getaway. Out of the four of them, only one of them is introduced to the audience before the fifteen-minute mark, which is about twenty percent of the film. That’s kind of a big issue with this film, the timing. For a lot of the film, it doesn’t seem like it knows how to use the time it has so just pads it out. It’s an 80-minute horror-comedy, those should be really easy to fill time for. As it is so much of this just feels like padding. There’s an almost 2-minute scene where we watch two characters flip through TV channels, they then get a joint out, this isn’t mentioned again in the film. I know two minutes isn’t that long really, but the film is full of minute-long scenes which could be done in seconds, and they all add up to a lot of wasted time. There is a scene after that which had a really baffling moment for me, and I’m not sure if it’s just me being picky. There was a noticeable gap between songs in the background music, and it coincided with a break in the conversation. So you went from lots of noise, to just complete silence for about three seconds. I had to quadruple-check that actually happened and it wasn’t just my laptop screwing up, because that was just a really strange choice. At least after that, the killers make an appearance in the house. This was at the 40-minute mark, again, of an 80-minute movie. That’s way too long, WAY too long for a film like this. Especially one which didn’t even really set up the characters that well in the first half.

Thankfully this is followed by a really smart moment, someone knocks at the front door whilst the women are hiding. They’re not sure if it’s the police, or maybe the killers trying to trick them. In the end, it’s a guy delivering the pizza they ordered earlier. That was a very smart piece of writing, it was set up, and was done long ago enough that you forgot about it when it happened. It made sense. Which is baffling why they then rush through another part. A character is seemingly poisoned and collapses, we think dead. Then about thirty seconds later they wake up when they hear a loud noise. Personally, I feel it would have been better if her “death” lasted longer, and she made a sudden appearance later to save someone at some point. As it is her “death” seems really inconsequential. Her waking up doesn’t have a big moment attached to it either, she just wakes up and rejoins the main characters (and the pizza guy) before running away to get killed by Tiffany Shepis’ character. I mention her by name as even though she is only in the film briefly, she is brilliant in it. Her performance is one of the highlights of the film, she carries herself as someone who knows exactly what the film requires of her performance. Which, to be completely honest, is more than can be said of some of the others. A lot of the performances are a little, I don’t know, one dimensional? This is a big problem, especially with the lead. It’s the first leading role in a feature for Alexandra Feld (who is also one of the producers and married to the director), and she doesn’t really carry it off. She remains stone-faced throughout the entire film and never really feels like anything other than a character in a movie. Part of that could be the writing though, a lot of the characters don’t have much depth to them, and the dialogue is VERY “written” and unnatural. On the subject of the writing, I feel I need to mention the pizza guy again. The main characters lock their phones in their car so they won’t be disturbed whilst they’re there, standard way to stop the audience asking “why don’t they just phone the police?”. But the pizza guy, he doesn’t lock his phone away. In fact, he specifically mentions he tried phoning them on his way there, so she has a mobile phone. He doesn’t use it. He doesn’t use it when he’s there, and he doesn’t use it once he runs away either. We know this as the film soon cuts to the next morning and the police aren’t there (but what is still there? The blood on Kate’s face, for some reason she didn’t feel the need to wash it all night). And “but they don’t know the address” would be bullshit, as the pizza place would have had it listed so it could get delivered. “But maybe he died on the way”, again, the pizza place would have followed that up, he had deliveries to make after this, and if he didn’t deliver any of them then the place would have had a lot of phone calls complaining, so the company would know he didn’t get there, whilst having a list of where he was supposed to be, to be checked out. I mean, I guess the guy could have just completed all his deliveries and just forget to mention it, that would be consistent for how the characters act in this movie.

The fun of a film like this can be the reveal of the motivation, and this COMPLETELY fucks it up. The motivation; someone wants to make Airbnb etc look bad so his hotel gets more bookings. Seriously, that’s it. It doesn’t seem to occur to him that when the news mentions the attacks at the Airbnb, they’re highly likely to mention who owned that one, and his face will be plastered everywhere too, so his motel will also be negatively affected. His motive rant is essentially “urgh, Millenials”. He then gets shot and dies easily, much like all the villains in this movie. That’s a huge problem, none of the bad guys really seem like threats. There are two who are kind of threatening, and they’re the first ones to die. So after that we have; a neurotic guy who is basically Ed Helms but not, a motel concierge who just stays on the phone, and the old guy. There’s no “final boss” so to speak of the film. No “oh, the characters are in major trouble now THEY’RE there”. No sense of escalation, it’s really frustrating.

On the plus side; with the exception of some of the gore, it looks great. The film language isn’t great but in terms of just the general look it’s pretty good. And the music choices are exceptional, bringing a faux-retro 80’s feel to the whole thing. Other than that? I am really disappointed with this, truly. Not scary enough to be a horror, and nowhere near funny enough to be a comedy. I really wanted this to be great, and it’s a real disappointment that I didn’t even find it good.