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The Movies/TV 8 Ball: The Top 8 Worst Films of 2018 (So Far)

July 17, 2018 | Posted by Jeremy Thomas
SOPHIA TAYLOR ALI Truth or Dare

Top 8 Worst Films of 2018 (So Far)

Welcome, one and all, to the 8 Ball in the Movie Zone! I’m your host Jeremy Thomas and as always, we will be tackling a topic and providing you the top eight selections of that particular category. Keep in mind that this list is meant to be my personal opinion and not a definitive list. You’re free to disagree; you can even say my list is wrong, but stating that an opinion is “wrong” is just silly. With that in mind, let’s get right in to it!

We’re midway through 2018 and the cinematic landscape has been an intriguing one. We’ve seen the rise of new superheroes, some great horror, and a surprising number of decent comedies. At the same time, 2018 has given us a couple of the least-watchable films in recent member. The 8 Ball is back in order to take a Mid-Year in Review, examining the best and worst films released since the New Year. This week we look at the worst, examining the most abjectly awful movier to release since January.

Caveat: If the film had its domestic theatrical release this year, it was eligible. As you might imagine, I haven’t yet yet seen everything that’s been released thus far in 2018; films that I have yet to see which may have potentially made the list include Action Point, God’s Not Dead: A Light in Darkness, Samson, Tyler Perry’s Acrimony, Breaking In, and Show Dogs. For those keeping track, I’ve seen fifty-two films from 2018 thus far. That puts me behind last year’s sixty-six, in part due to less films coming out in the first half of the year.

Just Missing the Cut

Death Wish
Overboard
Gemini
Gringo
Pacific Rim: Uprising

#8: Insidious: The Last Key

Worst Films of 2018 Insidious: The Last Key

With Insidious: The Last Key, Lin Shaye once again makes a case for the fact that she needs to be in a better franchise. Shaye has been a constant good in this series, which has been subject to diminishing returns with every film. Both factors continue to be the case here. Shaye takes center stage as Elise Rainier once again in a film that serves as the last bridge between the prequels and the original series. Lin is drawn back to her childhood town to investigate a haunting at the home she grew up in. What follows is a film that tries hard to rise above its trappings, but falls short.

It’s clear that writer Leigh Whannell wanted to say more in The Last Key than your typical low-budget, big-screen PG-13 horror film. The film touches on topics of domestic abuse and how survivors struggle deal with it. However, those themes are brought in only when convenient and take a backseat when it’s time for dull jump-scares and tired tropes. Shaye is great, and Davison does nice work as her brother. But Whannel and Angus Sampson’s sidekicks Tucker and Specs are particularly bad. They’re almost as creepy the ghosts, hitting on Shaye’s young adult nieces at every opportunity. Adam Robitel’s direction is the epitome of “journeyman” work here, adding little of value. It is depressing how close The Last Key comes to being watchable without hitting the mark.

#7: Proud Mary

Worst Films of 2018 Proud Mary

Proud Mary had a lot of potential for an inexpensive action-thriller. Taraji P. Henson is a great actress with plenty of charisma, and she is an ideal choice to lead this kind of film. And yet, Proud Mary is such a painfully lackluster film. Henson’s talent is on display, to be sure. As the titular assassin, Henson gets to kick a decent amount of ass and take names as a hitwoman whose life changes when circumstances force her to revisit a previous hit that went bad.

Unfortunately, Henson is let down by a script that doesn’t really know what to do. And it’s not like this is a tough nut to crack. The pulpy hitman action-thriller that has been repopularized with John Wick and Atomic Blonde doesn’t have a particularly high difficulty curve on getting the plot right. The script is filled with bland, forgettable characters outside of Mary, wasting the talents of Donald Glover among others. Babak Najafi has a great opening sequence that fires on all the right blaxploitation cylinders. Then he inexplicably eases off, turning the film into a flavorless film that is indistinguishable from a dozen straight-to-video efforts. That’s complete with a generic soundtrack which needed about 400% more funk in it. The action at the end doesn’t redeem this film, one of the biggest wastes of potential in 2018 thus far.

#6: Sherlock Gnomes

Worst Films of 2018 Sherlock Gnomes

It’s not a new revelation to say that the bar on animated films have been raised since Pixar and Dreamworks came into the game. Animated films can’t just throw out flashy colors and toilet humor amidst a bargain-bin plot and hope to make a profit. Gnomeo & Juliet was a rare exception to that rule. The 2011 garden gnome kiddie rom-com managed to become a success on a small (for animation) budget thanks to little competition and low expectations. But was anyone at all clamoring for a sequel? Anyone other than Paramount Pictures and MGM, of course, who decided they could replicate the “magic.”

Suffice it to say, they didn’t. While most of the major players are back (except Disney), it’s clear from the very opening moments that no one really knew what to do with them. Sherlock Gnomes instead relies on the introduction of the titular detective, played with at least a little gusto by Johnny Depp. He’s the only cast member not phoning it in here. Ben Zazove’s script trades what little charm the first had for a plot that is both convoluted and boring. Despite a larger budget, the visuals actually look worse and no jokes really land well. Sherlock Gnomes isn’t the worst animated film I’ve seen in recent years (hello, The Emoji Movie). But it is the most half-assed.

#5: The 15:17 to Paris

Worst Films of 2018 The 15:17 to Paris

Clint Eastwood’s latest directorial effort, The 15:17 to Paris, was marketed in the buildup to its release as a thrilling and inspiring recounting of three Americans’ involvement in stopping the 2015 Thalys train attack in France. The tagline for the film was, “The true story of a terrorist, a train, and three American heroes.” And that is, indeed, in the film…for about ten minutes. Therein lies the problem. The remaining eighty-four minutes is a meandering road trip film that plays like an extended ad for selfie sticks. Dorothy Blyskal’s script is based on the memoir by the three man involved. It tries to frame the story around their friendship and lives as it led up to this event. It never finds its track, though, alternating between directionless roaming and clumsily charging ahead.

The big gimmick for this film was Eastwood’s casting of Spencer Stone, Anthony Sadler, and Alek Skarlatos as themselves. It’s a move that doesn’t exactly pay off. None of the three are actors, and their performances are definitely bland. That’s not the real problem, though. There’s focus and some emotional stakes in the first act when the three are growing up. That quickly gets lost as the trio takes over, particularly once they set out on their European trip. The dialogue may be authentic, but it’s not compelling, and the second act completely loses its focus. By the time the train incident comes around, it’s too late. This real-life story of heroism is thrilling, and Eastwood took a bold gamble in how he wanted to tell it. It’s simply a gamble that doesn’t pay off, making the end result tiresome and frustration to watch.

#4: The Hurricane Heist

Worst Films of 2018 The Hurricane Heist

The Hurricane Heist feels very much like a straight-to-video film that somehow stumbled its way into a theatrical release. If not for the $35 million budget, I would say that’s probably not far from the truth. The Rob Cohen-directed film was picked up post-completion by Entertainment Studios and unceremoniously shoved into 2,400 theaters. It’s unfortunate, because in the STV market it probably wouldn’t seem as bad. As it is, it’s an unmitigated disaster. The action flick is the kind of film people might watch in the “so-bad-its-good” way, but it doesn’t have the kind of self-effacing humor or cheese factor to be a fun watch on even an ironic level.

That all starts with the script, of course. Jeff Dixon and Scott Windhauser’s screenplay starts off by more or less recreating the Jon Kent hurricane scene in Man of Steel, then swiftly turns itself into Die Hard during a hurricane. It’s a weird amalgamation, one made worse by the fact that Cohen’s direction makes the film too self-serious. Maggie Grace, Toby Kebbell and Ryan Kwanten half-heartedly emote their way through the motions here, taking on the kinds of stock villains you’d expect to see described in a couple words during a pitch meeting. The special effects work is cheap but serviceable and perhaps the best part of this misbegotten film. The Hurricane Heist’s ambition is high, but it’s achievements are far too low to be worth much of anything.

#3: Fifty Shades Freed

Worst Films of 2018 Fifty Shades Freed

It took two interminable films to happen, but they accomplished it. At last, Fifty Shades Freed managed to conjure up the slightest whiff of chemistry between its leads. That’s not to say that Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan — two fine actors just trying to see this whole thing through — have any real sparks between them. But at least the two seem to somewhat like each other and have a very minor amount of synchronicity to their performances. That’s something, at least, and in a “romantic drama” (I use both words loosely here), that’s important.

Sadly, it’s also about the only thing that is better in Fifty Shades Freed. The characters are barely more than two-dimensional (in their third film, no less) and the plot is duller than very old dishwater. But that doesn’t matter, because as usual it’s just set dressing to pass the time between the repetitive sex scenes. There are moments where poor Dornan is required to make ridiculous dialogue work (he doesn’t pull it off). This one at least is watchably bad, unlike the last previous entries. And thank the gods, this franchise is over at last.

#2: Truth or Dare

Worst Films of 2018 Truth Or Dare

Horror’s had quite a year so far in 2018. But even a great year of horror is going to end up giving us some real trash. And no film so far as gone so far into the garbage bin as Truth or Dare. Blumhouse Productions’ low-budget strategy is a profitable business model, but it also churns out films like this. Truth or Dare is a PG-13 mess, which feels like some marketing executive looked at popular teenager games to see which ones they could churn out a filmable script for. The party game is the foundation for a film full of the usual stock characters, lame dialogue and a villain with an eye-rolling, predictable backstory.

All that would be fine if the film could turn it into something scary. Hell, even a few jump scares would work. But director Jeff Wadlow is unable to manage even that. Instead we get possession by way goofy grins and poor performances by a cast who should know better. It’s an exceedingly dull movie, punctuated by characters doing the dumbest possible thing at any given moment. There’s no sense of fun, no cleverness, and no thrills. It’s also way too long for such a threadbare storyline. Truth or Dare is five gallons of stupid horror in a pint jar, and one of the single-worst horror movies released this year to date.

#1: Gotti

Worst Films of 2018 Gotti

Yeah, there’s no way around saying it: Gotti is one of the most hilariously-inept mob movies ever made. It isn’t just the aimless, random jumping around from time period to time period that the film does. It isn’t just the horrifically hackneyed dialogue from scripters Lem Dobbs and Leo Rossi. And it isn’t just the poorly-done makeup work on John Travolta to turn him into the infamous mob boss. Sure, those are all big contributors to the problems with this film, which tries to tell the story of John Gotti through the eyes of his son. But it’s also so much more.

More than anything, Gotti’s biggest issue is that doesn’t have any real idea of how to approach its subject. As a result, just about every actual decision made is a bad one because they have no focus to them. Forty-four producers are credited as having been involved with this mess, and that makes sense. Because it feels like a film made by that many competing visions of what it should be. John Travolta does make an effort here to bring a semi-compelling performance, but director Kevin Connolly arranges an absolute disaster around him at every turn. Every other actor is wasted amidst laughably bad dialogue and horrible accents. It’s hard for a movie about someone with as interesting and cinematic of a life as John Gotti to be this bad. In that, I suppose, Gotti deserves some credit for defying the odds and sinking as low as it did.

And that will do it for us this week! Join me next week for another edition of the 8-Ball! Until then, have a good week and don’t forget to read the many other great columns, news articles and more here at 411mania.com! JT out.

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