Worst Horror Movies 2016

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Here are my picks for the WORST HORROR MOVIES OF 2016.

While these first two films didn’t make my TOP 5 List, they still deserve honorable mentions:  the literary snooze PRIDE AND PREJUDICE AND ZOMBIES, and the Naomi Watts misfire SHUT IN, a badly written film that wastes a fine performance by Watts.

And now for the TOP 5:

conjuring 2

5.THE CONJURING 2 – Coming in at #5 it’s the dreadful sequel THE CONJURING 2.  I liked the original THE CONJURING (2013)  a lot, but this redundant sequel, in spite of the return of director James Wan and actors Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga, who reprise their roles as paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren, is a dud.  The dialogue here is particularly bad.  Adds nothing new to the original.

 

4. THE DARKNESS-  Another pointless demonic possession movie.  It’s interesting to note that several of my picks for worst horror movies were demonic possession movies, while none of my picks for best horror movies were about demons and hauntings.  That’s no accident.

This one tells a silly story about a demon that haunts a family after they visit the Grand Canyon. For a movie called THE DARKNESS, this one is photographed in lots of bright sunshine.  Go figure.  Stars Kevin Bacon as a dad with fairly young children, and he’s a bit long in the tooth to pull off that type of role successfully.

 

3. THE FOREST (CKF) – This weak horror movie wastes a real place- Japan’s suicide forest- in a poorly written story about an American woman searching Japan’s suicide forest for her missing sister.  Don’t bother joining her on the search.

 

 

2. BLAIR WITCH – Another dreadful sequel, this time to the classic THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT (1999).  Offers nothing new and sheds no light whatsoever on the mysterious events which occurred in the first movie.  A complete waste of time.

 

And now, without anymore fanfare, my pick for the WORST HORROR MOVIE OF 2016.  The envelope please.  And the winner—er, loser, is:

incarnate

1 INCARNATE-  Yup,my pick for the WORST HORROR MOVIE of 2016 is INCARNATE,  a hopelessly bad demonic possession movie starring Aaron Eckhart as a demon hunter who enters people’s minds and battles the demons in their dream worlds.  Sort of like a good guy Freddy Krueger, only without the wit.

Pretty much nothing works in this clinker.

And there you have it, my picks for the WORST HORROR MOVIES OF 2016.

Here’s hoping there are better horror films on the horizon in 2017.

Thanks for reading!

—Michael

Books by Michael Arruda:

TIME FRAME,  science fiction novel by Michael Arruda.  

Ebook version:  $2.99. Available at http://www.neconebooks.com. Print version:  $18.00.  Email your order request to mjarruda33@gmail.com. Also available at Amazon.com.

IN THE SPOOKLIGHT, movie review collection by Michael Arruda.

InTheSpooklight_NewText

 Ebook version:  $4.99.  Available at http://www.neconebooks.com.  Print version:  $18.00.  Email your order request to mjarruda33@gmail.com. Also available at Amazon.com.

FOR THE LOVE OF HORROR, short story collection by Michael Arruda.  

For The Love Of Horror cover

Ebook version:  $4.99.  Available at http://www.neconebooks.com. Print version:  $18.00.  Email your order request to mjarruda33@gmail.com. Also available at Amazon.com.  

 

 

 

 

 

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Worst Movies of 2016

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And here’s a look at my Top 10 List for the worst movies I saw in 2016:

10. HAIL CAESAR!

Coming in at #10 it’s HAIL CAESAR!, a misfire from the Coen brothers.  Don’t get me wrong, this period piece depicting 1950s Hollywood looks terrific.  But the script doesn’t really work.  It has the makings of a screwball comedy, but the Coen brothers opt to play up the drama instead, and so the main character is straight man Hollywood fixer Eddie Mannix (Josh Brolin) who goes around getting actors and actresses out of the various messes they’ve gotten themselves into, all in the name of protecting the studio’s image.  And so the screwball tale of lead actor Baird Whitlock (George Clooney) being kidnapped is pushed into the background, downplaying Clooney’s considerable comedic talents. The film is basically a bunch of unfunny vignettes with a serious but dull wraparound story featuring Brolin’s Eddie Mannix.  Should have been much better.

 

9. BATMAN V SUPERMAN:  DAWN OF JUSTICE

batman_v_superman

Easily my pick for the worst superhero movie of the year.  Batman and Superman lock horns in a story that never makes much sense.   The two superheroes hate each other in the first place, which weakens the plot point of villain Lex Luthor’s plan to pit them against each other, and later the moment when the two future superfriends make amends simply doesn’t ring true.  Best part:  Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman.  Worst part:  Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor.

 

8. THE CONJURING 2

conjuring 2

A major disappointment.  This sequel to the excellent horror movie THE CONJURING (2013) is a bust, even with the return of original director James Wan, and lead stars Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga.  Film offers nothing new.

 

7. THE BROTHERS GRIMSBY

Horribly unfunny comedy by Sacha Baron Cohen about two brothers, one an assassin, the other a full-fledged loser, who team up to take on the bad guys.  This one had a hilarious trailer, but that’s all.

 

6.THE DARKNESS

Another lame horror movie, this one about a demon which haunts a family after they take a trip to the Grand Canyon.  Stars Kevin Bacon.

 

5. MECHANIC:  RESURRECTION

mechanic-resurrection-poster

One of the worst sequels I’ve seen in a long while.  This sequel to one of Jason Statham’s earlier hits, THE MECHANIC (2011), itself a remake of a 1970s Charles Bronson movie, makes no sense and is simply an excuse to have Jason Statham in some action scenes.  I’m a big Statham fan, but not even his presence here could save this turkey.

 

4. THE FOREST

Yet another terrible horror movie.  There are simply too many of these.  This one takes a real place, Japan’s Suicide Forest, with lots of real potential, and reduces it to a mere setting for a silly story about an American woman searching for her missing sister.  This is one forest not worth visiting.

 

3. BLAIR WITCH

Yup, another horror movie, another pointless sequel.  This sequel to the classic THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT (1999) drops the ball as its story about the younger brother of the main protagonist in the original film offers nothing new.  Yup, you won’t find any neat revelations here regarding the mysterious events in the first film.  A huge waste of time.

 

2. HARDCORE HENRY

This actioner deployed the gimmick of being shot entirely from the first person perspective of the main character, who we never see since the story unfolds through his eyes.  The result is a movie which plays like a video game, but of course, the viewer isn’t playing this game, so unless you like watching other people play video games, you might want to skip this one.  Not even the presence of the talented Sharlto Copley can save this shallow flick.

 

1. INCARNATE

incarnate

My pick for the Worst Movie of 2016 is a no brainer.  Easily the worst horror movie of the year and the worst movie of the  year, INCARNATE wastes the talents of a fine actor like Aaron Eckhart and sticks him in a ridiculous story about demonic possession.  The gimmick here is Eckhart’s character approaches demonic possession from the psychological standpoint, and enters the victims’ dreams to expel the demons.  Kinda like a heroic version of Freddy Kruger, only without the wit.  A mess from start to finish, this one makes little sense, nor does it try to.

And there you have it, my picks for the Worst Movies of 2016.

Thanks for reading!

—Michael

Books by Michael Arruda:

TIME FRAME,  science fiction novel by Michael Arruda.  

Ebook version:  $2.99. Available at http://www.neconebooks.com. Print version:  $18.00.  Email your order request to mjarruda33@gmail.com. Also available at Amazon.com.

IN THE SPOOKLIGHT, movie review collection by Michael Arruda.

InTheSpooklight_NewText

 Ebook version:  $4.99.  Available at http://www.neconebooks.com.  Print version:  $18.00.  Email your order request to mjarruda33@gmail.com. Also available at Amazon.com.

FOR THE LOVE OF HORROR, short story collection by Michael Arruda.  

For The Love Of Horror cover

Ebook version:  $4.99.  Available at http://www.neconebooks.com. Print version:  $18.00.  Email your order request to mjarruda33@gmail.com. Also available at Amazon.com.  

 

 

 

 

 

Not Much Dark in THE DARKNESS (2016)

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darkness poster

Movie Review:  THE DARKNESS (2016)

By

Michael Arruda

It’s called THE DARKNESS (2016), yet its opening shot and entire pre-credit sequence takes place in the bright sunshine of the Grand Canyon.  In fact, for most of the movie, it’s sunny!  Pass the sunscreen!  But darkness?  Sorry.  In spite of its title, you won’t find much darkness here.

You won’t find much to like either.

THE DARKNESS opens with two families vacationing at the Grand Canyon, but the rest of the movie follows just one of these families, and that’s because they bring home with them something more than their luggage.  They bring home a demon!  Yikes!

Yup, Peter Taylor (Kevin Bacon), his wife Bronny (Radha Mitchell), their moody teenage daughter Stephanie (Lucy Fry) and their autistic son Michael (David Mazouz) bring home the unwelcome guest when young Michael falls into a secret cave and discovers weird cave paintings which must have been painted by the demon because the next thing we know, Michael has escaped from the cave—without any explanation of how he did so— and he now has a new invisible friend, Mr. Demon.

So, when the Taylors return home, the obligatory weird things start happening.  They hear strange noises during the night, the neighbor’s dog barks at their house at all hours, a crow shows up inside their garage, and their son Michael begins to act weirder.  If you’ve seen any of the endless plethora of haunted house/demon movies from the past ten years or so, you’ve seen everything that happens in this movie.  THE DARKNESS offers little that is new.

The Taylors are slow to react because they’re used to dealing with the idiosyncrasies of their son, since he is autistic, but when he sets the house on fire, they finally start to pay attention, and by this point, they realize that what’s going on inside their house is more than just the doings of their son Michael.  Something else now resides in their home, and like all good folks in these demon movies, they turn to a spiritualist for help.

There were parts to THE DARKNESS that I liked.

For example, I liked that the son in this story was autistic.  It kept things fresh— for a while.  It also gave a reason for the Taylors to be slow on the uptake when dealing with the weird goings-on inside their home.  They’re used to it.  Their son Michael exhibits what most people would term unusual behavior on a regular basis.  So, when dirty handprints start showing up on walls in the middle of the night, whereas most folks would scratch their heads and say WTF?, the Taylors simply think it’s their son.

Interestingly enough, no one in the movie mentions that Michael is autistic until nearly two thirds of the way in, but it’s not difficult to figure out.  Still, I thought this was a curious decision on the part of the screenwriters and not necessarily a good one.  The sooner we know this, the sooner we would fully understand the lifestyle the Taylors are living on a regular basis.

Later in the movie, the story makes the point of saying that autism serves as a magnet for demons, which I thought was a different take on the subject.

Now, while I liked the acting in this film, I wasn’t wowed by David Mazouz’ performance as Michael.  As someone who’s worked with people with autism, I thought Mazouz’ performance was limited.  As played by Mazouz, Michael is pretty much mute and simply stares at walls a lot.  While this isn’t necessarily inaccurate,it shows little range, as people with autism can do much more than what Michael does in this movie.

I did like the majority of the acting here, though, and it’s one of the better parts of the movie.  Kevin Bacon leads the way as Peter Taylor, and Radha Mitchell is equally as good as his wife Bronny.  The best part about these two is their reactions as parents dealing with this situation is spot-on.  They do not overreact, nor do they wait forever to take action.  They seemed like two people dealing with real life problems.

And that’s because they have a lot of real life issues on their plate.  The biggest issue is raising their son Michael, but they also have to deal with their teenage daughter Stephanie.  On top of this, there’s the pain of Peter’s recent extramarital affair.  In fact, they have so many issues going on, the demon thing takes a while to rattle them because quite frankly they’re used to being rattled.

This is really the best part of the screenplay by Shayne Armstrong, Shane Krause, and director Greg McLean.  They get the family situation right.  In fact, this film might have been better had it not had any supernatural elements in it at all.

Both Kevin Bacon and Radha Mitchell are no strangers to horror.

While Bacon has enjoyed a long and varied career, he’s made several stops in the horror arena, including the original FRIDAY THE 13TH (1980), TREMORS (1990)- one of the best giant monster movies ever made-, and the TV series THE FOLLOWING (2013-2015).

Radha Mitchell starred in the SILENT HILL movies, and she starred opposite Timothy Olyphant in the remake of THE CRAZIES (2010),  a movie I liked a lot.

Lucy Fry nails her performance as teen daughter Stephanie.  Sure, this type of role is becoming cliche, but Fry’s performance is a standout nonetheless.  Fry currently stars in TV’s WOLF CREEK and in the mini-series 11-22-63 (2016) based on Stephen King’s novel, where she plays Marina Oswald.

And Paul Reiser even shows up as Peter’s boss in an incredibly thankless role that goes absolutely no where. Yet, Reiser is very good in his brief screen time.

The biggest hit against THE DARKNESS is that it’s simply not scary, and there are a lot of reasons for this.  Most of the blame has to fall on director Greg McLean.  He has the perfect set-up for a horror movie and then does nothing with it.  With the Taylor family story, the stage is set perfectly for the supernatural horror elements to take over, but sadly, they never do.

And that’s because nothing of substance really happens in this movie.  It’s all set-up and no payoff.

And that demon who’s haunting the family?  He’s pretty much a no-show.  He has no agenda.  Just why is he haunting this family?  All we get is that demons haunt families, and they start with the children first, taking them and then the rest of the family back to their demon world.  Now, I have no problem with this, but I wanted to know more. It’s mentioned all too briefly.

The demon also has little presence in this movie.  There are no memorable images or signature moments in this one.  There’s also nothing original.  The strange noises in the middle of the night are right out of the PARANORMAL ACTIVITY movies and nowhere near as scary, and the demon-wants-your children plot point is out of more movies than I can name here, although the INSIDIOUS and SINISTER series both come to mind.

And to nitpick, I thought Kevin Bacon was a bit old for this role. He’s pushing 60, and he’s playing a dad with a teenage children. While not unrealistc, he did seem a bit long in the tooth for this role.

About the only thing that made me jump in THE DARKNESS was when Radha Mitchell’s Bronny would call out to her son at night after something weird had happened and say, “Michael?” and I found myself thinking of Michael Myers in the HALLOWEEN movies.  I could only wish.

THE DARKNESS is a tepid horror movie with little to offer, best watched in the less expensive confines of your own home rather than at an expensive movie theater, if at all.

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