By Chloë Brett
As we move forward into yet another year, it’s time to take a (very belated) look back at 2016 and all the films that came with it. Of the over 200 2016 releases I saw, I’ve narrowed it down to about 40 that I deem worthy of discussion. Though there are definitely some obvious choices, there are also hopefully some titles you may have missed, and some films that will be coming out in wide release this coming you can look forward to. None of these lists are in any particular order because I’m only human and can’t make such choices. Enjoy!
I always have a really hard time getting going with these lists so I usually like to start out with a fun one; my 5 Most Forgettable Films of the Year list. This is a list where I try to remember the plot of a movie that I don’t even remember watching.
“Term Life” Dir. Peter Billingsley
My Description: So I remember that Vince Vaughn is Hailee Steinfield’s deadbeat dad. I don’t know if she has to be with him by choice or if her mum dies. Vince Vaughn is an assassin I think, and there’s a great scene where him and whatever old action dude is in this, talk about how stupid his haircut is. Hailee is like, “Teach me how to use a gun, I’m not a normal teenager!” They end up being friends in the end. Someone is trying to kill Hailee to get revenge against Vince?
Actual Description: A guy wanted around town by various hit men hopes to stay alive long enough for his life insurance policy to kick in and pay out for his estranged daughter.
How’d I do: Pfft, I basically nailed it.
“The Darkness” Dir. Greg McLean
My Description: I literally remember nothing about this movie, NOTHING. I quickly glanced at the cast to try and spark some glimmer of recognition. Kevin Bacon is in this apparently? Nope, still remember nothing. The poster made me think it was a documentary, I guess it kind of reminded me of that sleep paralysis movie.
Actual Description: A family returns from a Grand Canyon vacation, haunted by an ancient supernatural entity they unknowingly awakened and engages them in a fight for their survival.
How’d I do?: You know what, the human brain can only contain so much information.
“The Last Heist” Dir. Mile Mendez
My Description: Okay, I know this mostly takes place in a bank, and there’s someone in the vents at some point. Henry Rollins is a….vampire? Or like, Death? I feel like there was some element of supernatural to this movie. Or maybe he just cuts out people’s eyes? The other bank robbers are two whiny brothers.
Actual Description: A bank heist descends into violent chaos when one of the hostages turns out to be a serial killer. Trapping the well-organized team of bank robbers in the building, the killer is now picking them off one by one.
How’d I do?: Well, I don’t know where I got the who vampire thing from but I was right about the eyeballs!
“Jason Bourne” Dir. Paul Greengrass
Jason Bourne is back! For some reason?
My Description: Alicia Vikander is in this movie apparently, not that I have any memory of that. I’m guessing a lot of people get shot, and there’s a lot of very fast-paced fight sequences. Matt Damon probably says something like “you should have left me alone” while looking down the crosshairs of a sniper. Is Brian Cox in this movie? Maybe they go to China? Or….some soviet country? Close ups of one person’s multiple passports.
Actual Description: Jason Bourne is again being hunted by the CIA. It begins when Nicky Parson a former CIA operative who helped Bourne who then went under and now works with a man who’s a whistle blower and is out to expose the CIA’s black ops. So Nicky hacks into the CIA and downloads everything on all their Black Ops including Treadstone which Bourne was a part of. And Heather Lee, a CIA agent discovers the hack and brings it to the attention of CIA Director Dewey, the man behind the Black Ops. He then orders Parsons be found and hopefully Bourne too.
How’d I Do?: Brian Cox is not in this movie and they do not go to China.
“Pandemic” Dir. John Suits
My Description: Disease outbreak? I know this isn’t that movie where Alec Bladwin is a giant, floating head, but that’s all I can think of. When I looked at the cast list to try and jog the old brain box a bit came back. Alfie Allen drives a truck and does a passable American accent. I remember lots of people in hazmat suits. There are maybe mutants in it, possibly a zombie baby?
Actual Description: In the near future, a virus of epic proportions has overtaken the planet. There are more infected than uninfected, and humanity is losing its grip on survival. Its only hope is finding a cure and keeping the infected contained. Lauren is a doctor who, after the fall of New York, arrives in Los Angeles to lead the hunt for uncontaminated civilian survivors. But nothing can prepare her crack team for the blood-soaked mayhem they are about to witness as they head into the Californian mean streets where everything is considered a trap… From director John (THE SCRIBBLER) Suits, a boundary-crashing, game-changing science fiction thriller featuring non-stop action from a first person shooter perspective, putting the audience in the middle of every fight whilst feeling in control of every punch thrown and shot fired. Welcome to the new model of immersive action thriller for the hardcore video game generation.
How’d I do?: I feel like whoever wrote that description didn’t watch the same movie as me.
Now, forgettable movies inevitably flows right into movies I wish I could forget, the worst of the worst. For your consideration, my Least Favourite Movies of 2016.
“Phantasm: Ravager” Dir. David Hartman
This is the lowest end fan made YouTube movie I have ever seen. Everything about this movie felt cheap, cheap and tired, and bloated, and cash-grabby.
“Abbatoir” Dir. Darren Lynn Bousman
I literally just saw a posted article on Bloody Disgusting titled;
“Darren Bousman’s ‘Abattoir’ is the Best 2016 Horror Movie You Didn’t See” I’ll tell you right now, there’s a reason you didn’t see it’s, because it’s awful. What sounds like a really cool concept, a man collecting the rooms where unspeakable horrors have happened, in order to create the ultimate haunted house? Yeah, that sounds awesome. But the execution was beyond not there. Bogged down by weird stylistic choices that in no way added to the story. An ultimately underwhelming final act that is severally hindered by some of the cheapest and laziest cgi I have ever seen. Not even Lin Shaye could save it.
“Orphan” Dir. Arnaud des Pallieres
There was nothing redeemable about this movie. We follow a woman throughout her life going through terrible thing after terrible thing. Being abused and used, over and over again.
There’s no message, there’s no growth, this was like watching mild, french torture porn.
“Carrie Pilby” Dir. Susan Johnson
If this movie had been made maybe 15 years ago I probably would have liked it. Unfortunately, it was completed dated and filled with what now seem like old-fashioned ideas and tropes. The film itself isn’t even that bad, but sometimes, as in this case, I get so put off by movies that are tepidly warm at best. If you’re looking for a movie where you can probably just predict the entire story by watching the trailer, then this is the movie for you.
“From a House on Willow Street” Dir. Alastair Orr
I watch a lot of garbage movie, like a lot. And only once in my life have I ever walked out of a theatre before the movie ended (I’m looking at you Country Strong).
From a House on Willow Street was a great test of will. Under any other circumstances, I would have left the theatre probably at the halfway point, if not before. But I saw this at a festival and the director, cast, and other crew were there and I just felt it would be really rude to leave, not that they necessarily would have even noticed.
Was it predictable and contrived? Yes? Was the acting, with a few exception, bad? Yes. Was there a UNFORGIVABLE AMOUNT OF STRETCHY MOUTH CGI? Yes, I have never in my life seen so much. Way too many jump scares, to the point where they become completely ineffective. Somehow it managed to be completely unoriginal while being inexplicably unbearable.
“War Dogs” Dir. Todd Philips
The amount of “Scarface” references in this movie are ample enough evidence of why it is bad.
“Batman: The Killing Joke” Dir. Sam Liu
They took a great comic and made a too long, too terrible, “let’s torture Barbra movie.”
“The Greasy Strangler” Dir. Jim Hosking
I don’t even know where to start with this movie.
I’ve seen it compared to a lot of things: The films of Jared Hess, Tim and Eric, John Waters, etc.
And yes, it had the vibes of all those things, if all those things were covered in a thick layer of lard and left to rot and fester for several decades. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a film where I questioned every single choice that the filmmaker and actors made. Everything that was meant to be funny fell totally flat and made me wonder in what universe any of this IS humorous. The gross-outs were far too numerous to really make any impact of any kind. The actors were all incredibly off-putting, not in the way I believe they were meant to be.
I always try to find something redeemable in every film I watch, even the ones I dislike, but honestly there is nothing worthwhile in this movie.
“Darling” Dir. Mickey Keating
This movie had a lot of potential to be good but ultimately it just fell really short for me. From the moment it started I had a feeling I was not going to be into it and lo and behold I was right. “Darling” felt like a poor attempt to mash up “The Shining” and “House of the Devil”.
I’m all for movies being barebones and ambiguous but the small amount of information we are given holds zero substance, no character is developed enough (really at all) for the audience to feel apathy for anybody. That mixed with poor angle choices, dated post-production effects, and a lot of other overused 2005-era horror tropes just left me feeling like I’d watched an ok-ish student film. This was a case of a filmmaker going for style over substance but the style aspect was all poorly executed. For me, this marked another entry in the ‘horror bro’ canon along with the films of Joe Begos. At least Sean Young was in it briefly.
“Yoga Hosers” Dir. Kevin Smith
Nepotism at its finest.
Before seeing this film I heard several people describe it as a hate crime against Canada, and you know what? I don’t disagree.
From start to finish, or middle I should say because my friend and I had to stop it part way through due to sheer terribleness (I did eventually watch the rest of it), this movie was utterly painful to slog through. When I saw “Tusk”, the first of Kevin Smiths “I Fucking Hate Canada Trilogy”, Smith himself was there and waxed poetically about how much he loved Canada and wanted to make films set here. Now don’t get me wrong, “Tusk” had a lot of issues but there were still parts I liked. “Yoga Hosers” and the other hand, was a whole other beast.
Rife with decades old played out Canadian stereotypes (seriously, does anyone on earth still think we say ‘aboot’? I think that stopped being funny before we were even officially a country). Harley Quinn Smith walking around in uncomfortably revealing outfits (gotta show the world I have a hot daughter!). A plot that was so dumb it made me want to peel my skin off and grind up my own body into a sausage.
And fucking Johnny Depp. Can he just stop already?
These people should be banned from our country.