For a movie produced by Michael Bay, Ouija is surprisingly low on both humour and fun. Even Bay’s worst films attempt a little nudge-wink humour (remember Ben Affleck getting an injection in Pearl Harbor?) but Ouija’s script appears to have been divested of anything that might cause an audience to enjoy itself.
There’s an important fact to be gleaned from the movie, however: it turns out that the eponymous board, which can receive messages from the dead and in extreme cases lead to demonic possession, is really a harmless toy sold by Hasbro. Together with Bay, they’ve slapped together a joyless, utterly generic slab of teens-in-peril tosh that doesn’t even have the decency to be So Bad It’s Good.
You’d think the board had received enough publicity already from the 1,279 other movies where idiot teenagers attempt to communicate with the dead, but Hasbro and Bay think otherwise, so here’s another film where the lights go out for no reason and people start dying one after the other. Strangely, at no point does anyone say, “It’s just like that cheesy movie I saw…”
13. Movie 43
Movie 43 is an urban legend, a picture that may (or may not) bring about the end of the World, so while a group of teenagers attempt to track it down online, their exploits are intercut with the short films that comprise Movie 43, a picture that may (or may not) end the careers of everyone involved.
Among the segments: Hugh Jackman as a blind date whose scrotum is located under his chin (The Catch), Anna Faris does a coprophilia routine (The Proposition), Halle Berry and Stephen Merchant have plastic surgery to appear Oriental (Truth Or Dare), and Gerard Butler has a dual role as two potty-mouthed leprechauns (Happy Birthday).
Most nauseating – no mean feat – is Middle School Date, where alpha males laugh at a girl experiencing her first period. The girl is played by Carrie herself, Chloe Grace Moretz, so someone suggests she use cotton wool to “plug it up”.
12. The Fog
Hollywood’s Devil worshippers had the formula for a successful fright flick down cold: some pretty actors from television in their first lead roles, a budget in the $5-20m range to ensure profitability, enough special effects to entertain a caffeinated twelve-year-old, and a script written in crayon by Sloth from The Goonies.
In 2005, they sat down and said to each other: “Remember that John Carpenter film about the haunted fishing village? Here’s the remake: it’s Clark Kent and his African-American sidekick versus the ghosts from Scooby Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed. With a wimp rock soundtrack. From the director of MC Hammer’s U Can’t Touch This video!”
Most of The Fog’s cast either weren’t born or were still in diapers when Carpenter’s film came out, but hopefully they caught it on television. Hopefully someone did, although there’s not much evidence of that in the finished film.
Antonio Bay has become Spooky Island, where kids know best and all the adults are corrupt, so it’s a shame that the teenage leads don’t drive around in a van solving mysteries.
11. Pearl Harbor
Everything you’ve heard about this mega-long, mega-cheesy mega-movie is pretty much true, but let’s forget for a moment the cliché-ridden script, the cornball dialogue that performers look embarrassed to deliver, the wooden characters plus the flat romantic sub-plot, and concentrate upon the scale. The filmmakers sure did.
Even those turned off by period films or amused by the prospect of ‘Armageddon meets Tora Tora Tora’ had their curiosity piqued by a budget rumoured to be between $138m-$208m. That bought a lot of spectacle….just as it had on Titanic. Even if the picture stank on every creative level, who didn’t want to watch that much money go up in smoke?
It was the old sizzle-not-the-steak marketing ploy and it worked like gangbusters, generating $450m in worldwide ticket sales, plus there was the added benefit that because people hadn’t come to see credible characters, historical truth or even a good movie, they’d judge Pearl Harbor by its explosions, which were very good indeed.
This is what people mean when they say, “It wasn’t supposed to be Hamlet!”
10. Fifty Shades Of Grey
Fifty Shades Of Grey swept the board at the 2016 Razzie Awards, winning Worst Picture, Actor, Actress, Screenplay and Worst Screen Combo. Critics called it “absurd” and a “half-baked mess” and even fans of E.L. James’ books conceded that they probably weren’t up there with the Sistine Chapel.
None of which affected the picture’s box office: with a worldwide gross of $561 million, it was the 11th most popular film of 2015, ahead of Ant Man, San Andreas and Mad Max: Fury Road. Try to wrap your brain around that. A $40 million bonkbuster that nobody claimed to like made nearly $200 million more than Fury Road, which was nominated for 10 Oscars (and won 6).
When Deep Throat tore up the box office in 1971, making more money than either Dirty Harry or Diamonds Are forever, The New York Times coined the term “Porno Chic” to describe the burgeoning interest of middle class couples in hard-core pornography. Fifty Shades isn’t explicit enough to bear comparison with that clunker, but it does shine a light on the private lives of your middle class friends.
9. Jack And Jill
When Adam Sandler was unable to walk a straight line with a glass balanced on his head while saying the alphabet backwards, his forfeit was to make a movie with anti-Semitism, fat jokes, overbearing product placement and Sandler in a dual role, playing an advertising exec as well as his brash sister.
There’s much banter about female hygiene until the film pulls a switch that no comedy ought to and attempts to make us feel sympathy for this ghastly character, which is when a low-aiming, mildly diverting picture turns into a thoroughly nauseating one that doesn’t so much condescend to its audience as take them to be dribbling, gurgling test subjects. Then along comes a sight that no Al Pacino fan ought to see.
Unlikely to be the scene you’ll see when it comes time to do The Godfather’s TV obits, Pacino sheds some of that cumbersome dignity as he raps about Dunkin Donuts while surrounded (why not?) by dancing donuts. How does Sandler convince so many Oscar winners (see also: Christopher Walken, Susan Sarandon) to make fools of themselves?
8. Alone In The Dark
The Abkani, a race believed to have developed the ability to move between worlds, inexplicably vanished from the Earth ten thousand years ago. Then in 1969, one Professor Hudgens attempted to breed Abkani creatures with twenty orphans before being shut down by Bureau 713, a government paranormal investigation division.
Fast forward to the present and one of those orphans, Edward Carnby (Christian Slater), a former employee of Bureau 713, is attacked by a seemingly unkillable assailant after coming into possession of an Abkani artefact. The thug is of course under orders from Hudgens, who is preparing to unleash Xenos, Abkani creatures that can only exist in darkness. Or something.
That’s just the first 20 minutes of Alone In The Dark, a movie so astonishingly inept in its storytelling, it could only have been cobbled together by Uwe Boll. Interested in car chases and CG creatures and absolutely nothing else, Boll turns in a lumbering mess that has a real shot at being the Worst Videogame Adaptation Of All Time.