I have repeatedly mentioned that 2015 was a weak year for film. This doesn’t mean that the number of bad films was any higher than usual, but that the mediocre gap between the best and the worst was just wider than usual. The bulk of this year’s films were merely “okay,” and only sometimes “notable.” But, like any year, garbage persists. And, wow, there was a pungent pile this year. Rude comedies, awful morals, rotten sequels, weird effects-laden studio pieces, and one brick-headed historical drama mark the nadir of the calendar.
It never ceases to amaze me the number of ways that a film can be bad. I suppose horrifyingly bad ideas are just as uncommon – and just as remarkable – as excellent ones. Some of the films on the following list are bad for their mere blah usual-ness. Others, however, managed to offend me personally. All of them were experiences I’d rather not have had. If anyone ever says that film critics have an easy job, try siting through some of these.
Here are the 10 worst films of 2015 listed, from the most tolerable to the least tolerable.
10. Terminator: Genisys
One of my least favorite of the current blockbuster trends is a propensity to get lost in mythology; I am irked when a screenwriter spends more time constructing a world and interlocking references than they are in writing a really interesting story. A complex interlocking mythology is a poor excuse for a good tale. So when I saw the fifth Terminator movie, Terminator: Genisys, I winced for a full two hours. Here was a film that essentially payed homage to every damn shot of the first two Terminator movies, while using clever time travel ruses to write an entirely new, and entirely convoluted timeline. In terms of fandom tribute, this film is so far up its own ass it’s practically inside out.
A dully reprehensible horror/comedy about a group of unfunny adults who spend the bulk of the film murdering children. To be fair, they’re zombie children, but the imagery is hard to get around. This is either a film that fails as shock humor, or – and I suspect the latter – it genuinely hates children, and expects you to get a thrill from their murder. This is misguided, dumb, and offensive. Smoke less weed, guys.
8. The Perfect Guy
Michael Ealy is the Glenn Close in this limp, PG-13-rated gender-swapped retread of Fatal Attraction. What could have been a merely forgettable late-summer thriller trumpets itself in the memory through shockingly incompetent filmmaking. I have not seen editing or camerawork this bad in a mainstream film since… well, actually since January. We’ll hear more about that further down the list…
Roland Emmerich assumes you haven’t heard of the Stonewall Riots, and makes an historic biopic about said riots like he just read his first article on them last week. Stonewall is an impossibly slick, rock-stupid rendition of the infamous destruction that kicked off the gay rights movement in earnest. The obvious drama and dull lead character make Stonewall feel less like a feature film and more like a lost TV special. But without the clunky charm. Enjoyable for campy reasons.
6. The Divergent Series: Insurgent
Many recent YA adaptations – at least the ones based on dystopian sci-fi or faraway fantasy – have been adopting a distressing common lesson for their young audiences: The only way to throw off your shackles of unassured teen angst is to commit acts of brutal violence as learned through a pseudo-military fraternity. No film pushes this repugnant lesson harder than the Divergent movies, which don’t even cover up their celebration of fascism. Also, the plot is indecipherable, and the twists are effing stupid.
5. The Ridiculous 6
It was looking like Adam Sandler was going to escape having a film on this year’s worst-of list. Pixels was decent enough, and The Cobbler hasn’t been garnering too much rancor. But then, right at that last minute, the man releases The Ridiculous 6, and collapses over the finish line with a 119-minute turd full of his usual bullying misogyny, gross-out gags, and offensive stereotypes (yes, the film’s view of Indians is on par with a Three Stooges short). I’m guessing Sandler must be a wonderful man in real life, because otherwise I can’t imagine why so many big stars would agree to be in a film like this.
The sixth film in National Lampoon’s Vacation series is selling itself as a remake, which is actually the least offensive thing about it. Vacation is a dreadful comedy that tries to wring laughs from a string of stupid, gross sight gags. This is a film that drives a riding mower through a live cow, and features the lead family taking a bath in raw sewage. I left the theater feeling like I, too, was coated in filth and cow viscera.
I feel like we’ve officially lost Cameron Crowe, a once soulful and excellent writer of romances who has, in recent years, lost himself to poorly constructed and poorly thought-out romantic mashes of overly sentimental moments that are completely unearned. His latest, Aloha, adds some racist casting, misguided cultural assumptions about Hawaiians, and even more confused storytelling to the mix. Crowe has made some of the best films I have ever seen. It’s sad to see him go. Perhaps someday he will return.
2. Kingsman: The Secret Service
20th Century Fox
This film is, in actuality, largely inoffensive, and nearly got away with being a fun, if not great, action flick about well-dressed teen spies. There are, however, two scenes that ruin the film, and leave me thinking of just how awful it is. In one, a tragic violent act is sold as being the coolest possible thing (meaning the film – in a fit of adolescent ignorance – sees violence in all its forms as something to celebrate), and in the other, a woman offers her anus as the prize for our hero doing his job well (meaning the film doesn’t think much of women). Each time I think about this film, I hate it more, and eventually it landed on my list of the worst.
1. Taken 3
20th Century Fox
Januaries are rough times for critics, as that’s when the studios tend to dump out their crap, having exhausted themselves at the end-of-the-year prestige orgy. Taken 3 was a January release in every sense of the word. Lazy sequel, bad writing, detrimentally low budget, and a filmmaking style that resembles a broken garbage disposal. Even Liam Neeson, often so game, can’t seem to work up any enthusiasm for this cheap mess. It’s Hollywood cynicism in its worst form, and it was an awful experience.
0. The Human Centipede 3 (Final Sequence)
Repellent. Repugnant. Repulsive. Reprehensible. Execrable. Loathsome. Appalling. Deplorable. Immature. Stultifying. Fucking terrible. Tom Six’s final chapter (thank God) in his notorious geekshow series (and, no, the movies don’t really function as films) aims to offend every notion of decency by employing every politically incorrect “joke” that Six can muster out of his mildewy imagination… and it succeeds. But make no mistake: The copious offensive mysophilia isn’t as offensive as Six’s amazingly adolescent attitude. He’s like a young boy so desperate for negative attention that he’s begun wiping boogers on the audience. He chuckles to himself, and we just want to take a bath.
Top Image: 20th Century Fox
Witney Seibold is a contributor to the CraveOnline Film Channel, and co-host of The B-Movies Podcast. He also contributes to Legion of Leia, The Robot’s Voice, and Blumhouse. You can follow him on “Twitter” at @WitneySeibold, where he is slowly losing his mind.