There was a lot to celebrate on the big screen in 2018, as is obvious to anyone who read our list of the Best Films of 2018 last week. However, as with any year, the good came with its fair share of bad. In amongst the Black Panthers of the world, there were a tonne of turkeys, from those you will definitely have seen to those you probably, mercifully missed. In order to ensure you don’t accidentally end up watching them on VOD later this year, it’s time to shine a spotlight on the worst films of 2018.
Note: Holmes & Watson came out too late to be included on this list, but rest assured that it’s utterly dreadful and would have made an appearance.
As has become normal over the last few years, I and my Popcorn Muncher Podcast co-hosts – Luke and Patrick – listed our least favourite ten films of the year. We’ve awarded points for the rankings, crunched the numbers and here are, according to the three of us, the 20 worst films that were released in the UK in 2018.
20=. Den of Thieves (3 pts)
Led by Gerard Butler – as a character called ‘Big Nick’, which is on the nose even for him – and 50 Cent, Den of Thieves is a noisy, blokey crime thriller that, for some reason, goes on for two and a half hours. It’s getting a sequel too, because this world is on fire.
Tom said: “Some people liked this movie a lot. They are wrong. This is a phenomenally tedious thriller that seems to go on forever without ever doing anything to raise the pulse of the audience. It’s best forgotten.”
20=. The Hurricane Heist (3 pts)
In this one, there are some criminals carrying out a heist, but there’s also a hurricane. Mainly, this is just proof that Toby Kebbell really needs someone to find him some better roles. He deserves more than this sort of nonsense.
Patrick said: “Its Second Amendment-loving American boy protagonists are portrayed by an English and Australian actor respectively. If that doesn’t tell you how bizarrely incompetent this production is, then I don’t know what will. It’s barely even about a heist in a hurricane!”
20=. Life of the Party (3 pts)
Melissa McCarthy is on the cusp of an Oscar nomination for Can You Ever Forgive Me?, but that quality was definitely absent from Life of the Party, in which she played a mum who goes back to college – with her daughter. It’s also not going to be her only appearance on this countdown.
Luke said: “Have you ever watched a movie where it was so uncomfortably bad you couldn’t make eye contact with it? That’s what Life of the Party is like. McCarthy chews scenery through an unbearably unfunny two hours.”
17=. Halloween (4 pts)
Forty years after Jamie Lee Curtis fought off Michael Myers for the first time, the Halloween franchise reinvented itself this year with a new adventure. It’s nasty, violent and, for some, it was exactly what the doctor ordered. It did, however, divide audiences with some of its choices.
Luke said: “A disappointing waste of time that packs no scares or thrills into its bloated runtime, while totally wasting the talent and themes of inter-generational trauma it merely touches upon.”
17=. The Happytime Murders (4 pts)
Melissa McCarthy’s second appearance on this list is a film that seems to think swearing and violence with puppets has never happened before. In The Happytime Murders, she plays a cop forced to work with a puppet partner to investigate a killing spree targeting children’s TV show characters.
Tom said: “Despite how hard it tries to be offensive and push boundaries, the most remarkable thing here is that the film is so boring. A few gallons of silly string jizz is not enough material to build a movie with.”
17=. Patrick (4 pts)
Sold on the basis of its titular, adorable pug, Patrick is a British comedy about a teacher’s romantic failings as she tries to deal with the canine she has been bequeathed. Ed Skrein shows up as well, mostly just to do a Game of Thrones gag.
Patrick said: “A movie titled after such a strong and regal name deserves a better story. I just don’t know who this is for. Romcom fans will be uninterested in most of the pug shenanigans and kids will be bored by the romcom staples.”
14=. Death Wish (5 pts)
The prospect of Eli Roth taking the helm of a remake of a historically horrible vigilante movie was one that always seemed a little bit dicey. Death Wish, starring a bored-looking Bruce Willis and an arsenal of firearms, somehow managed to exceed even the lowest expectations.
Tom said: “We probably talk about movies in relation to Donald Trump a little bit too much, but I bet he’d absolutely adore Death Wish. That should tell you everything you need to know.”
14=. Solo: A Star Wars Story (5 pts)
Disney delivered the first bum note of its Star Wars tenure this year with Solo. Overshadowed as a story by the chaos involving its eleventh hour change of director, it’s a strange take on the origin story of Han Solo, in which Alden Ehrenreich tries to fit into some seriously big shoes.
Patrick said: “Clunky sequel bating, extended pay-off to a story that ended half an hour ago and a character reveal that was so dumb I nearly walked out of the cinema. This is the first Star Wars movie to tank for a reason.”
14=. Brad’s Status (5 pts)
In the most recent phase of his career, Ben Stiller has spent a lot of time playing mopey middle-aged men complaining about their lot in life. Brad’s Status is in many ways the logical conclusion of that path.
Luke said: “Call me a cynic, but there is something a bit inaccessible about a film which sees a moderately successful white man, who is taking his son to visit Ivy League colleges, complain about how he isn’t as successful as his richer white friends. It’s also terribly scripted, limply performed and a mess to wade through.”
11=. A Simple Favour (6 pts)
Comedy maestro Paul Feig took a break from making audiences laugh this year in order to make them scratch their heads. A Simple Favour is an oddball thriller, in which Anna Kendrick‘s peppy mum investigates the disappearance of her friend.
Patrick said: “Feig said this movie was his attempt to pay homage to Hitchcock’s suspense thrillers, but it feels like a suspense thriller as made by a total moron. It is really clumsy and has no idea what it wants to be. It’s less of a movie per se and more of a vehicle for Blake Lively to wear ever sillier outfits.”
11=. A Wrinkle in Time (6 pts)
Ava DuVernay‘s ambitious blockbuster A Wrinkle in Time is an exercise in swinging for the fences. Adapting a book that’s beloved in America, but largely unknown here, it’s a wild fantasy tale that trades in mind-bending inter-dimensional travel.
Luke said: “Because of its immense successes, people seem to have forgotten about Disney’s failures. A Wrinkle In Time is disappointing because there’s so much creativity behind the camera and on screen, but unfortunately none of that finds its way into the script or the plot, which limps along with nothing at all to grab you.”
11=. Father Figures (6 pts)
Father Figures has a standard, half-baked comedy premise. Ed Helms and Owen Wilson are brothers on the hunt for their real dad, with the central gag being that their mother was promiscuous in her youth. Hilarious stuff, as I’m sure you’ll agree.
Tom said: “Despite the terrific ensemble of talent on show in this movie, there’s simply not a single laugh. The bar for Hollywood comedy is set pretty low but, in a year in which there were some great examples of the genre, this one feels like a sad, old relic.”
8=. The Equalizer 2 (7 pts)
No one actually wanted a sequel to The Equalizer – a film that even its greatest fans would concede is a basically serviceable vigilante thriller. Despite that, Denzel Washington chose to make The Equalizer 2 his first foray into the world of sequels. It’s almost the same movie over again except, this time, everyone should have known better.
Patrick said: “The first movie was boring, but this one is both boring and a total mess. It has no semblance of plotting and scenes play out in a seemingly random order. It’s shockingly inept and Washington seems to not want to be there. On top of that, there’s an uptick in the gore that feels incredibly distasteful considering the film’s context. Bland, bland, bland.”
8=. Slender Man (7 pts)
The idea of the Slender Man myth seems like it’s tailor made for a creepy horror movie. For an entire generation of internet-savvy teens, the story is the equivalent of a classic spooky campfire tale. Slender Man attempts to bring that feel to the big screen, in a project that had issues with its distributor and faced complaints from the family of a girl who committed a brutal attack connected to the Slender Man story. It’s reportedly these complaints that led to the film being cut for a PG-13 rating.
Tom said: “Beyond all of the real world issues surrounding it, this is simply a lazy horror movie. There isn’t a single scare, the characters are entirely unsympathetic and the entire thing is displayed through a grey palette so sludgy and dark that it’s often impossible to tell what’s happening. Bad horror is more common than it should be, but it’s seldom as bad as this.”
8=. Fifty Shades Freed (7 pts)
Few film series have attracted as much vitriol as Fifty Shades of Grey, and that’s certainly true of trilogy-closing movie Fifty Shades Freed. It’s going to be showered with a tonne of Razzies this year, but mostly everyone involved – especially Jamie Dornan – just looks quite pleased that it’s all finally over. This time around, the trashy erotic elements have largely been replaced by even trashier melodrama and the material of the worst airport paperbacks.
Luke said: “Films about sexy young people getting sexy should be sexy, and this was not. It’s like a horror film not being scary or a comedy not being funny. This is just an egregious misstep which ends a terribly disappointing franchise.”
7. Super Troopers 2 (8 pts)
As much as I’d love to say that nobody wanted to see Super Troopers 2, that clearly isn’t true. The film was financed by a crowd-funding campaign in which fans of the early noughties stoner comedy parted with their own cash in order to bring about a second joint. The result is essentially a 90-minute victory lap for the Broken Lizard comedy troupe, without a modicum of invention.
Tom said: “I haven’t seen the original movie and I now have absolutely no intention of doing so. This is comedy of the most irritating, nails-on-a-blackboard kind. It’s mostly just a tangled web of set pieces designed to facilitate improv. Unfortunately, that improv largely just consists of swearing and making the sort of jokes beloved by edgy, 15-year-old stoners. Yawn.”
4=. Monster Family (9 pts)
Sky Cinema’s original output in 2018 was varied and, in some cases, incredibly interesting. However, they got off to a very disappointing start with Monster Family, in which a talented cast of comedy actors is squandered for a story that somehow manages to be even less interesting than the third Hotel Transylvania film. It was also an enormous commercial failure, which shows audiences do have some sort of taste.
Luke said: “Sky’s first foray into original filmmaking might have been the movie which killed the idea that parents will put anything on for their kids, as long as it is animated. Monster Family is an abomination. It is cheap, unfunny and just cynically produced.”
4=. The Nun (9 pts)
The Conjuring franchise has consistently proven that it’s possible to spin a horror world off into a Marvel-style shared universe. However, The Nun is arguably the worst movie in that universe to date. Despite a promising directorial voice in Corin Hardy and the prospect of some intriguing gothic visuals, this tale proved to be a case of things that go snooze in the night.
Patrick said: “I love horror, but this can barely be called that. This film is shockingly bland and boring to the point I would have dozed off if it hadn’t kept making a loud violin twang every five minutes. Nothing escalates, nothing keeps you engaged and things barely hold together or make sense.”
Tom said: “As a big fan of the Conjuring movies, I expected a lot from The Nun. And yet, it delivers absolutely nothing other than disappointment. Even the brilliant jump scare from the trailer is entirely ineffective in the finished movie, which is a hell of a feat.”
4=. Show Dogs (9 pts)
In Show Dogs, there are cops who are dogs. There are also cops who are humans. It seems like the dogs have their own caseload in the same way as the humans do. This is never explained in any way, and it more or less sums up the myriad issues with this film. If a movie doesn’t bother to finesse its central concept, then it’s pretty much dead on arrival.
Tom said: “Early on in Show Dogs, one of the canine characters comments that nobody makes talking dog movies any more. The film then spends the next tedious couple of hours proving exactly why that is the case. It’s a tortuous experience in every way imaginable, with absolutely no one involved getting any sort of chance to shine.”
3. The House That Jack Built (12 pts)
Lars Von Trier is one of the most controversial figures in the world of cinema. Years after being made persona non grata at Cannes for comments about Hitler, the movie industry’s arch provocateur arrived back on the screen in 2018 with The House That Jack Built. It’s a near three-hour journey through Von Trier’s tortured psyche, in which he draws parallels between himself as an artist and Matt Dillon‘s serial killer, who refers to himself as “Mr Sophistication”, without even a twinge of irony or self-awareness.
Patrick said: “While I’m sure Tom will be harsher in his criticism of this movie, it’s still not great. I won’t deny it has some artistic merit, but I just can’t bring myself to call it anything other than a misery to watch. I can’t imagine having to watch this locked in a cinema for two and a half hours. Thank goodness for VOD.”
Tom said: “Patrick’s got me right here. This movie is a morally repugnant hellfire that doesn’t deserve to call itself art. It’s a tedious sojourn through the inky black heart of a man who seems to want forgiveness without ever having the awareness to apologise for his actions. Is there anything more tedious than the prospect of an arthouse epic that’s entirely about the man behind the camera?”
2. Mute (18 pts)
There was a time when Duncan Jones was considered one of the most exciting voices in sci-fi filmmaking. With the double whammy of Warcraft and Mute, however, Jones is quickly looking like he may have lost his previously impressive edge. Released to Netflix with a fair amount of fanfare, this tale of a mute bartender on the hunt for his missing partner quickly fell from the public consciousness and has now been mercifully forgotten by many. Not us, though.
Patrick said: “Painful incompetence from a filmmaker who is better than this. The worst part is that I get what it was going for, but it is just so bad on every level. It’s a total disaster of a film that had me using all my strength not to flip Netflix over to an episode of iZombie instead so that I could actually remember what it was like to enjoy things.”
Luke said: “It is difficult to remember Netflix’s reputation as a specialist in failure after a year that ended with mega hit Bird Box and Oscar hopeful Roma, but Mute is the biggest of all of the streaming giant’s turkeys. What should be known as Duncan Jones’s last film is a dreadful mess of piecemeal sci-fi ideas and a nonsensical plot which only serves to damage the reputations of everyone involved in it.”
1. Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald (19 pts)
The Harry Potter franchise has fallen a considerable distance. The first Fantastic Beasts film, although a little divisive, was largely well-received and considered to be a fun addition to JK Rowling’s world. The Crimes of Grindelwald, however, comes after years of baffling decisions – Nagini is an Asian woman? Johnny Depp is still in this? – and marks a strange moment for the franchise, with its once-guaranteed five-movie arc now looking like it might struggle to reach the finishing line.
Patrick said: “This movie is so bad that I feel awful that I was so harsh on the first one. It’s the movie equivalent of a Wikipedia page. It suffers from a total focus on lore dumps about characters the movie has no interest in making us care about, flat direction that has become a staple of David Yates and an abysmal screenplay with revelations so meaningless you’ll wonder why you ever wanted to revisit the Wizarding World.”
Luke said: “There have been worse made and worse acted films this year, but none of those left me feeling as miserable and cheated as this, which by all rights should be the last film in the terrible franchise and allow JK Rowling to carry on being excellent on Twitter rather than jobbing through these scripts. This film is a mess, a depressingly dull, nightmarishly plotted mess that commits the cardinal blockbuster sin of being boring before it panics in the final five minutes and just offends its viewers by trying to give anything you’ve just seen meaning. Stop this. Stop this all, please.”
And here are our full lists. For our weekly reviews and chat, check out the podcast. If you want to yell at us for what we have chosen or indeed what we haven’t chosen, feel free to pop down to the comments section and scream your heart out.
House That Jack Built
Super Troopers 2
The Happytime Murders
Den of Thieves
Fantastic Beasts 2
Fifty Shades Freed
Wrinkle in Time
Life of the Party
The Spy Who Dumped Me
Fantastic Beasts 2
The Equalizer 2
A Simple Favour
Solo: A Star Wars Story
House That Jack Built