January rolls on mercilessly for film fans, living up to its long held reputation of being a dumping ground for bad movies. Last week, we counted down the worst January movies of the 21st century: could any of these releases make future editions of the list?
The Bye Bye Man
It wouldn’t be January without some kind of awful horror movie, and The Bye Bye Man looks to be this year’s offering. Reviews have been brutal for this low-budget feature, which follows three college students who find themselves haunted by the entity known only as The Bye Bye Man, who takes control of its victims and compels them to murder.
The film is directed by Stacy Title, known for helming Snoop Dogg’s Hood of Horror, and stars some notable talent including Carrie-Anne Moss and Faye Dunaway. Unfortunately, that hasn’t been enough to stop critics from calling it “an insult to horror fans“. Suffice to say, you should probably skip this one.
Jamie Foxx stars in this drama about undercover Las Vegas police officer Vincent Downs; after an attempt to steal cocaine from a powerful drug lord goes awry, gangsters kidnap Downs’ son and leave him with only one (sleepless) night to stage a daring rescue. The film is directed by Baran bo Odar, his first English-language feature film, and also stars T.I. and Michelle Monaghan.
While Sleepless has a capable team both in front of and behind the camera, we consider the film to be something of a risky choice this weekend. It hasn’t been shown to critics in advance which is generally a bad sign, and those interested in this story have a (probably) better option in the acclaimed 2011 French film Sleepless Night, of which this movie is a remake. That being said, Taken ended up being a huge surprise hit this time nine years ago, so perhaps audiences are ready for another January kidnapping story.
At long last, Monster Trucks hits screens around the world this weekend. The movie, from Ice Age director Chris Wedge, has had numerous release dates during its troubled development – initially scheduled for May 29th 2015. After missing that date (and several afterwards), film fans got the impression that Paramount Pictures didn’t have much faith in this family feature; a fact confirmed when the studio took a $115 million write-down on the movie, expecting a poor box office performance.
That expectation is quickly becoming a reality, as the $125 million Monster Trucks movie is set to make as little as $8 million this weekend. The film tells the story of Tripp Coley (X-Men‘s Lucas Till), who finds an unlikely friendship with a subterranean creature that takes up residence in the engine of his home-made monster truck. Family thrills ensue (at least in theory), in a movie that co-stars Parks and Recreation’s Rob Lowe and Don’t Breathe‘s Jane Levy.
Live By Night
When it began its run in limited release late last year, film fans were shocked to see Ben Affleck’s latest directorial effort receive a frosty reception from critics. The actor-turned-director had boosted his career significantly with past efforts, particularly Argo which went on to win Best Picture at the Academy Awards back in 2013.
Although critics have applauded the film’s visual style, few have given Live By Night their recommendation. The movie has drawn criticism for its predictable story and flat characters, rounding out what has been a difficult year for Affleck after the mixed reception to both Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and The Accountant. Still, the movie does hold a better reputation than the three releases we’ve talked about thus far, and so certainly wouldn’t be the worst decision you could make this weekend.
Pick of the Week: Patriots Day
An incident as tragic and as recent as the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing is a risky subject for a feature film, but writer-director Peter Berg took on the challenge and seems to have succeeded. Critics have been kind to Patriots Day which by most accounts is a respectful, dramatic and accurate retelling of the events of that fateful day and its aftermath.
The film stars Mark Wahlberg, who has worked with Berg on both Lone Survivor and last year’s Deepwater Horizon, as Boston Police Sergeant Tommy Saunders. The film opened in limited release late last year so to qualify for awards season, although has found itself somewhat shut-out from the major ceremonies. Still, both box office numbers and critic reviews have been strong thus far, making Patriots Day our pick of the week.
What do you plan to see this weekend?