January is here again, and with it we can expect another serving of terrible movies. The first month of the year has long been the dumping ground of the release schedule, where studios can drop the movies they have no faith in whatsoever. It’s a trend that shows no sign of stopping, making January a painful month for film fans. But which film can take home the honor of being the worst of the worst?
Here at Movies & Cool Stuff, we’ve been doing some investigating. Using scores from Metacritic, Rotten Tomatoes and IMDB we have put together this definitive list of the ten worst January releases of the 21st century. Have you had the misfortune of seeing any of these?
10. Best Night Ever
Best Night Ever is one of three movies on this list from film-making duo Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer, best known for making consistently awful parodies like Date Movie, Disaster Movie, and Vampires Suck. This was one of their few projects not explicitly mocking an established franchise, actually an attempt at producing original (although highly derivative) content.
Riding on the success of the likes of The Hangover and Bridesmaids, the movie tells the story of four women on a wild bachelorette party in Las Vegas. Adopting the tired found-footage concept was the first in a long line of mistakes for this poor excuse of a film, which critics tore apart for its bad direction and terrible writing which involves an excessive amount of gross-out humour.
Released online at the tail-end of 2013, the movie went on to be released in movie theaters in the final week of January 2014 where it brought in a little under $300,000. An unimpressive taking, but still more money than it deserved.
9. Movie 43
Possibly the worst thing about Movie 43 is just how badly it wastes the hugely impressive cast it assembled. Among the names in this collection of comedy sketches are: Hugh Jackman, Kate Winslet, Halle Berry, Emma Stone, and Richard Gere, with A-list talent in every scene. What went so badly wrong?
Well, for a film which claims to be a comedy, Movie 43 is remarkably light on laughs. Each segment takes one stupid joke and runs it into the ground over the course of five or so minutes. Sketches include Hugh Jackman playing a man with a scrotum coming out of his neck, and Anna Faris asking Chris Pratt to poo all over her. It’s all very classy stuff.
The film had thirteen directors in total but the man who spearheaded the operation was Peter Farrelly, best known for co-directing the likes of There’s Something About Mary and Dumb and Dumber with his brother, Bobby. Farrelly was the only one to promote the movie, as stars worked to distance themselves from a film which many of them didn’t want to star in. As Farrelly explained shortly after the film’s release, the secret to getting huge names to sign up for your terrible movie is to “guilt them to death.”
Bruce Willis stars alongside Thomas Jane in this science-fiction flick, which borrows generously from a range of far more interesting sources including Blade Runner and Westworld. Willis stars as the creator of VICE, a holiday resort where people can live out violent fantasies through the use of lifelike androids. One such android becomes self-aware and escapes, while a detective (played by Jane) works tirelessly to get the place shut down.
What follows has been described as visually dull, with flat characters and poor writing. There is simply no reason to watch Vice in a world where so many far superior explorations of artificial intelligence already exist. Audiences agreed as the film proved to be a complete non-entity at the box office, unlikely to have made back its $15 million budget which critics complained made the film look cheap.
7. In The Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale
Here we have the only director who could rival Jason Friedberg and Alan Seltzer for the title of January’s worst offender: the infamous Uwe Boll. The German filmmaker has gained notoriety among film and videogame fans alike, thanks to his tendency to make terrible adaptations of much beloved gaming franchises. In The Name of the King is one of three Boll films on this list, meaning its quite fortunate that the man has now retired.
Ironically, this film is actually about as close to legitimacy as Boll ever came. It holds an uncommonly high budget for a Boll production ($60 million), and a cast which includes some established names including Jason Statham, Burt Reynolds and Ron Perlman. Unfortunately, that wasn’t enough to keep it from being an utter disaster.
Loosely based on the Dungeon Siege videogame series, the film was criticised for its bad script, performances and casting. Some have claimed the film’s occasional moments of unintentional comedy give it a certain amount of entertainment value, but ultimately critics agree that it is one of the worst fantasy movies in recent memory. The box office takings were bleak – the film brought in just $13 million – but that didn’t stop Boll from making two sequels. The second and third films starred Dolph Lundgren and Dominic Purcell respectively, with the budget getting progressively smaller as the franchise inexplicably continued.
6. State Property
State Property was less an independent piece of film and more promotional material for its accompanying album. The soundtrack, which included thirteen songs by the rap group of the same name, actually received mildly positive reviews. The same cannot be said for this atrocious cinematic offering.
Beanie Sigel stars as a character called Beans, who together with his crew begins building a crime empire, eventually coming face-to-face with the leader of a rival gang, Untouchable J (a cameo role from superstar Jay-Z). The film was panned by critics who attacked its terrible performances, ludicrous story and shameless objectification of women.
Still, thanks to a microscopic budget of just $600,000, the film quite easily turned a profit and a sequel was churned out three years later which received a similarly frosty reception. State Property 2 swapped out Jay-Z for Kanye West and Mariah Carey, and shockingly, over a decade later, a third film is said to be in the works. Yet another example that proves your film doesn’t need to be good to be successful.
Adam Garcia stars as a young man investigating his mother’s new fiance, who comes on the scene quickly after his father’s suspicious death. The search for the truth leads to a romance with the fiance’s daughter (played by Alice Evans), but its unclear whether she can be trusted. This film, described on IMDB as a ‘thriller’ proved in reality to be anything but.
The reviews for Fascination were vicious, criticising the performances by Garcia and Evans, and the general absurdity of the plot. Another January offering which some would describe as unintentionally hilarious, Fascination attempts to be a sexy thriller but fails spectacularly, with the abundance of awkward sex scenes another major problem. Garcia almost had two films on this list, with 2003’s Kangaroo Jack just outside the top ten.
At number four: Boll is back. This is the second of three Uwe Boll movies on this list, and another videogame adaptation. Where In The Name of the King attempted to court the Lord of the Rings audience, Bloodrayne has fans of Underworld in its sights. While that series of movies has never been well-liked by critics, this preposterous production is on a whole other level of bad.
Kristanna Loken takes the lead role, alongside a surprisingly credible cast which counts Michael Madsen, Ben Kingsley and Michelle Rodriguez among its numbers. The film was panned by critics who took issue with the ridiculous story and bad performances; the cast weren’t so fond of it either. Years after its release, Madsen expressed his thoughts on the movie, calling it an “abomination“. The decision by Boll to save money by hiring prostitutes instead of actresses for one scene left many critics utterly bewildered, it was almost as strange as Meat Loaf’s bizarre performance.
Despite being a complete commercial failure, Boll made two more Bloodrayne movies; both went straight to DVD, with Natassia Malthe replacing Loken in the lead role.
3. Epic Movie
As we near the end of this list we see the return of Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer, last seen at number ten with their found footage “comedy” Best Night Ever. Here at number three is a film that critics believed was even worse, which is in itself an achievement I suppose. 2007’s Epic Movie is widely regarded by critics as one of the worst movies ever made, and it isn’t difficult to see why.
The film is less a comedy, and more a series of references to other far superior works. Opportunities to draw attention to some of Hollywood’s strange creative decisions are passed up in favour of crude jokes which serve an utterly nonsensical plot. Worst of all, the film was a rousing financial success bringing in $86 million on a $20 million budget, and encouraging the production of similar drivel. Speaking of which…
2. Meet The Spartans
Only one year after they menaced film critics with Epic Movie, Friedberg and Seltzer returned with Meet The Spartans: another collection of pop culture references strung together to form a story (to use the loose definition of that word). What few actual jokes were in the movie were overused so excessively that they quickly became irritants in a movie full of, well, other irritants.
Despite an overwhelmingly negative reception the film was just as successful as its predecessor, making $84 million on a $30 million budget. The only comforting fact about all this, is that parody movies such as these appear to have fallen out of fashion in recent years. Friedberg and Seltzer haven’t had a hit since 2010’s Vampires Suck, and even the once-popular Scary Movie franchise has struggled to stay relevant (as seen in the much diminished box office numbers for 2013’s Scary Movie V).
1. Alone in the Dark
Indeed, despite their best efforts, Friedberg and Seltzer cannot claim to be the kings of awful January movie releases: the crown will always go to Uwe Boll. His third and final film on this list takes the top spot, and is widely regarded as one of the worst movies ever made. To put it simply: Alone in the Dark is a failure in every sense of the word.
Very loosely based on the videogame series of the same name, critics found nothing to like here. Citing numerous plot holes, atrocious performances, and laughable visual effects, critics willfully tore this movie to shreds. Unintentional comedy – a staple of Boll’s work – crops up here too, and that has given it some fans from those infatuated by its awfulness.
Leading man Christian Slater was too good for this shambles of a production, and why he signed on to make this movie is something of a mystery. He currently co-stars on hit USA Network show Mr. Robot, a role for which he has received much acclaim. As for Boll, he went on to continue his trend of making sequels to films that were complete failures. A questionable business model, but one that he stuck with until the end of his career. Alone in the Dark II was released in 2008 and was seen as a marginally better movie, but still held in very low regard.
When looking at this horrible bunch of screen insults, it isn’t difficult to see why January has gained such a bad reputation among film fans. We can only hope that this year’s offerings aren’t quite so dreadful.