Posted January 13, 2018  /  Updated February 11, 2018


It's strange to say, but truly awful movies are arguably the ones that stay with me forever, despite my best efforts to actively try to forget about them the instant I leave the cinema after painful screenings. 

Maybe that's what makes writing these Worst Films of the Year compilations every twelve months so ultimately enjoyable, not to mention richly cathartic.  Someone once asked me how I know if a film is devoid of value and worthy to be on a list such as this, which takes me to something that the late, great Roger Ebert once wrote in his side-splittingly hilarious review of 1996's MAD DOG TIME: "MAD DOG TIME is the first movie I have seen that does not improve on the sight of a blank screen viewed for the same length of time."  That's pretty close to how I felt about nearly every film listed below that I had the dubious honor of watching - make that enduring - in the year that was.  There's a period of relative peace, calm, and relaxation that befalls me before every screening I attend, which usually begins - however brief - with a big, blank silver screen in front of me.  Every film that made the cut for my TEN WORST FILMS OF 2017 did not, to take a page out of Mr. Ebert's playbook, improve upon the nothingness that was on screen before it was projected. 

Now, having said all of that, nothing drives me more crazy in every single one of the near 15 years that I've been reviewing movies than when someone matter of factly tells me, "Well Craig, it's no wonder you didn't like the movie.  You're a critic.  You're out to hate everything you see!"  Oy vey.  Nothing could be further than the truth.  I love movies.  I want everything I see to be great.  Going into a movie and wanting to hate it is both petty and unhealthy.  Going to the movies is also time consuming and, most crucially, expensive for most.  Nothing is worse than having two hours of your life taken away from the outside world that you'll never, ever get back.  And I'm reasonably sure that a majority of you out there that had so suffer through the following ten films will mutually agree that they felt cheated and robbed of time by seeing them.   

As is the case with every year, the single worst film of the year was predictably the one that received the dreaded zero star rating from me (usually assigned to movies that are either artistically bankrupt and/or are morally indefensible to their core).  The nine other wall of shame efforts under it are all guilty as sin too.   

So, let the proverbial mudslinging begin...





This movie made me angry while watching it, so angry that it nearly made me want to throw something at the screen in disgust.  Many critics often say that truly bad films illicit such a reaction, which is typically hyperbolic.  But I kid you not: THE BOOK OF HENRY was a film of such irredeemable wretchedness that I really did want to hurl something at the screen while suffering through it.  It was as unsavory and off putting as any film that I saw in 2017. 

But how could this be?  The film had a decent director at the helm in Colin Trevorrow, whom previously made the quirky time travel romcom SAFETY NOT GUARANTEED.  THE BOOK OF HENRY also had a wonderfully talented cast, including Naomi Watts, MIDNIGHT SPECIAL's Jaedon Lieberher and ROOM's Jacob Tremblay.  The crew alone should have been enough to make me appreciate this film, but THE BOOK OF HENRY almost seemed to actively push me away at an arm's distance, mostly because its overall narrative trajectory - without engaging in spoilers here - was so condescendingly shallow, artificially, preposterous, and in frankly bad taste that it was enough to make me want to shake my head in incredulous disbelief as I exited the cinema.  THE BOOK OF HENRY tried, with shocking levels of failure, to be (let me get out my notes) a slice of life comedy, a coming of age drama, a three-hanky downer about cancer, a tale of sexual predators, and finally a DEATH WISH inspired revenge thriller.  There was no bigger WTF!? movie from 2017 than this, and when word got out that Trevorrow got royally fired by Disney from directing STAR WARS: EPISODE IX you kind of have to wonder if this film was the catalyst.  





GEOSTORM was such a galactically stupid and unrelenting terrible disaster porn thriller than I developed migraines thinking about all the ways it was valueless while screening it months ago. 

The troubled production - it went through a massive number of release delays and a well publicized series of reshoots that cost the studio $15 million after disastrous test screenings - marked the feature film directorial debut of Dean Devlin, and if final product spoke to anything it might as well be his last film behind the camera.  Absolute genre fatigue tainted GEOSTORM right from the get-go, especially in the force fed and lazy manner that Devlin appropriated - euphemism for copying - the playbook of past disaster flicks like INDEPENDENCE DAY (which he co-wrote), THE DAY AFTER TOMORROW, and ARMAGEDDON (that latter Michael Bay film - God help me - looks like Shakespeare compared to this).  Beyond its Dollar Store valued scripting and phoned in performances by a squad of decent industry vets, GEOSTORM tried so achingly hard to be a serious parable about the dangers of global climate change, but it was a film of such unintentional comic value that any attempts at sermonizing its themes to the audience were all for naught.  Plus, I'm not even sure it's fun anymore to watch movies that feature storms - or any other occurrence - destroying cities in their wake, especially after all of the recent weather related tragedies that have struck the world.  

GEOSTORM is best left buried and forgotten.  




THE BELKO EXPERIMENT was so depressingly cynical, stylistically repugnant, and dramatically null and void that I felt like assuming the fetal position while watching it.  

It contained a premise that, on paper, was fertile for exploration as a cutting edge workplace satire - employees are locked up against their wills at their office and are giving an ultimatum: kill a specific number of your colleagues within a specific time...or be killed yourself at random.  The main issue that I had with this James Gunn written and produced effort was that instead of slyly honing in on its satirical elements it instead wallowed in nauseating and sadistic levels of gory bloodshed, which ultimately seemed counter productive to its themes.  Director Greg McLean celebrated the wanton violent savagery in his film a bit too much - something that it was paradoxically trying to critique as a whole - which made THE BELKO EXPERIMENT one of 2017's most empty minded and shallow productions.  





It was the fifth TRANSFORMER film from director Michael Bay.  

That is all. 





Let me preface my brief discussion of why BAYWATCH absolutely deserves worthy placement on this list with the following disclaimer: 

I like Dwayne Johnson.  I really do.  He's charming, self-depreciatingly amusing, can play drama and comedy with relative ease, not to mention that he has the requisite physical toolset to plausibly inhabit any action film.  He's a star that's awfully hard to hate. 

He also seems like a sensible man, so what on earth made a relatively level headed chap like him - outside of a whopping pay check -  believe that the public and his legions of fans were desperately clamoring for a big budget and annoyingly R-rated adaptation of TV's 1990s T & A schlockfest BAYWATCH?  I don't have the foggiest idea, but perhaps The Rock was thinking that the makers here could do for BAYWATCH what, say, Phil Lord and Chris Miller did for 21 JUMP STREET.  The serious creative miscalculation in BATWATCH was that it never cleverly lampooned the former David Hasselhoff/Pamela Anderson lifeguard show and instead shoved a smorgasbord of gross out gags, graphic nudity, f-bomb riddled dialogue exchanges, and a whole lot of other charmless and humorless shenanigans down out throats to the point of inspiring gagging in viewers.  And Johnson, when all is said and done, is far too good for such nauseating material, and BATWATCH emerged as one of the worst adaptations of a TV show ever committed to celluloid...perhaps only fairing a tad better than another film down a bit on my list.  





If it were not for the existence of THE BOOK OF HENRY then FIFTY SHADES DARKER would have easily been my selection for the single worst reason any of you could have entered a darkened cinema with strangers last year. 

The follow-up to 2015's impossibly rotten FIFTY SHADES OF GREY (which took top honor for worst film of that year), FIFTY SHADES DARKER did make miniscule improvements over it, like having a better director in James Foley, not to mention that it was mercifully shorter than its antecedent by ten minutes.  But, dear lord in heaven, FIFTY SHADES DARKER was nevertheless a heatless sex thriller that once again reinforced how little - if any - chemistry that stars Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan have as an on-screen couple.  Not only did this film fail at being cheap and disposable soft-core porn, it also committed the unforgivable offence of being mind-numbingly boring to the point of inspiring sleepiness.  That, and I find it unendingly sad that millions upon millions for female viewers make these films box office dynamos, which leads me to ask a few simple questions:  Why is a seemingly innocent woman surrendering herself to a misogynist's abusive power and all?   Why do women ravenously eat this material up?  It's positively head scratching. 




I remember as vividly as it were yesterday how I felt right after I left my screening of CHiPS.  This "action-comedy" (sarcastic air quotes intentional) was so insufferably awful in so many incalculable ways that I get the shakes thinking out it months afterwards.  Very few films ever inspire in me feelings of toxic hatred towards myself for having watched them, but this big screen remake of the famous 1970s/1980s cop TV series came as close as any. 

Like BATWATCH, I have to inquire: Who out there wanted a silver screen update of a show that fell out of popularity three decades ago?  I doubt that very few exist.  Hell, even die hard fans of Rick Rosner's created TV show about the exploits of the California Highway Patrol (or CHiPs) probably weren't asking for this Dax Shepard written/directed film, which maybe should have followed the formula of what the STARSKY AND HUTCH movie did a decade-plus ago and crafted an update for the purposes of farcical comedy.  Instead, Shepard's approach to the underlining material was monumentally tone deaf and substituted idiotic and infantile R-rated crudeness in place of trying to have some self-aware appreciation of the source material.  Shepard's inclination to raw everything up in this film maybe looked good on paper to him, but the end result is something vulgar and criminally unfunny.  While watching this pathetic movie you have to start wondering whether or not Shepard had even seen a single episode of the TV show that preceded it, or whether he cared in the slightest as to the quality of his finished product.  






Sigh.  There have been far too many UNDERWORLD films that have been made over the years that have graced these annual lists, with most of them failing miserably to maintain my interest in their vampires versus werewolves mythology.  UNDERWORLD: BLOOD WARS, the fifth and (sigh) arguably not the last entry in this series, was a sequel that literally sleep walks through its mercifully brief 91 minute running and coasted by on redundant autopilot, never once enriching the centuries spanning saga of legendary "death dealer" vampire Selene (played by a Kate Beckinsale in a bland performance that's a personality and charisma black hole).  It's ultimately telling that her character - at the beginning of the film in a hilariously solemn voiceover narration track - informs the audience that she's lived well beyond her time.   

So has this franchise. 



THE SNOWMAN - not to be at all confused with the Frosty variety - was a serial killer murder mystery of limitless creative ineptitude, one that was so unpardonably messy, moronically scripted, horrendously edited, and dourly performed that I kind of wanted to reach out to the screen, touch the actors, and check for a pulse to see if they were actually alive while making it.  Very few films from the year that was were as creatively wrongheaded as this one. 

And the talent on board here as well!  We have stars Michael Fassbender, Rebecca Ferguson, Chloe Sevigny, J.K. Simmons, Charlotte Gainsbourg, and Val Kilmer, not to mention that the film was directed by Tomas Alfredsen, whom previously made brilliant films like TINKER TAILOR SOLDIER SPY and LET THE RIGHT ONE IN.  Mournfully, everyone here is wasted, seeing as THE SNOWMAN was an endurance test of will to sit through because of its horrible misappropriation of talent and resources.  And its whodunit storyline - featuring a bewildering amount of nonsensical plot detours, inconsistent editing, and some horrible treatment of one of its actors (Kilmer, who looked frail and sickly in the film, had his voice mysteriously and wretchedly dubbed by someone that doesn't sound anything like him) - doesn't make a hill of beans worth of sense, and probably never will upon multiple viewings.  Granted, I pity anyone that's foolishly crazy enough to want to revisit THE SNOWMAN; you know you're in trouble when even the film's director speaks out publicly against his final product, claiming it was unfinished and nearly unwatchable because key scenes were never shot.  

Ouch.  Like, double ouch.  





2017 saw the coming of one of Stephen King's better cinematic adaptations from his literary world in IT, but the same year also showcased one of the worst to come along in quite some time. 

THE DARK TOWER was a pathetic failure at basic world building, which rushed itself out of the gate so hastily and so lazily that it never truly felt like it had a cohesive game plan going forward from its introductory scene.  Based on King's revered science fiction/fantasy/western odyssey that spanned eight books and took nearly three decades to craft by the author, THE DARK TOWER movie is laughably only 95 minutes long and, as a result, did a staggeringly incompetent job of distilling thousands upon thousands of pages of literary mythology into one movie.  By cherry picking random elements of all of King's DARK TOWER book series, this potentially rich and absorbing universe felt so feebly undeveloped that even fanatic devotees of the iconic writer will probably have a tough time extrapolating just what in the hell was going on here.  Wasting the immense talents of stars Idris Elba and Matthew McConaughey, displaying horrendous continuity gaffes (the product of multiple reshoots) and a careless disregard to basic scripting, THE DARK TOWER was more of a franchise killer than starter.  


Well...that felt good.  My TEN WORST list is complete...but I'm not done yet!  Here's a few more films that were not terrible enough to make the TEN WORST, but were easily forgettable all the same.  Consider these:



UNFORGETTABLE:  One of more intolerably dull erotic thrillers to emerge in quite some time, and one that inspired frequent watch checking.

FIST FIGHT:  A witless and mostly puerile comedy about two teachers end of school day fist fight. 

ROUGH NIGHT:  This HANGOVER wannabe unequivocally proved that any female driven comedy can be just as tired, unfunny, and unoriginal as any male driven one.

GOON: LAST OF THE ENFORCERS:  This hockey themed sequel to the 2011 original engaged in a cringe worthy level of hero worshiping over the legitimacy of the role of enforcers in the sport. 

TULIP FEVER:  There are not many period dramas out there as amateurishly constructed and criminally dull as this one.  

VALERIAN AND THE CITY OF A THOUSAND PLANETS:   All of the visually opulent eye candy in the world couldn't save this Luc Besson directed sci-fi flick from its hollow scripting.

THE HITMAN'S BODYGUARD:  An extremely paint-by-numbers action comedy that squandered the services of star Ryan Reynolds and Samuel L. Jackson. 

BIRTH OF THE DRAGON:  How could a film about the legendary Bruce Lee be so utterly bereft of compelling things to say about his iconic stature in the industry?

MOTHER:  Director Darren Aronofky's smug self-congratulatory audience mind screw job of a film was simply too much to bare at times.  

SUBURBICON: George Clooney's subversive 1950s suburban satire suffered from a lack of cohesion in its story threads and tones.

THE MOUNTAIN BETWEEN US:  This handsomely mounted outdoor wilderness survival thriller boasted ample star power in Kate Winslett and Idris Elba...but not much else. 

DADDY'S HOME 2An unnecessary and fairly unfunny sequel to the fairly mediocre Will Ferrell/Mark Wahlberg starring original. 

THE SPACE BETWEEN US:  This initially intriguing young adult sci-fi romance was capsized by the limitless weight of its own eye rolling schmaltz. 

xXx: RETURN OF XANDER CAGEThis was the second best action film featuring Vin Diesel's Xander Cage that I've ever seen (insert sarcastic comeback here).

SPLIT Some critics hailed this as M. Night Shyamalan's triumphant return to form; although miles ahead better than his worst films of the last decade, SPLIT nevertheless reveled in storytelling contrivances and annoying third act developments.  

MONSTER TRUCKS:  Was anyone asking for a $100 million budgeted family film about gelatinous monsters that inhabit trucks?  Yeah, didn't think so.  

FREE FIRE:  This energetic action thriller had a stellar cast, but was regrettably not much more than a stale Tarantino clone. 

PHOENIX FORGOTTEN:  Another completely disposable found footage thriller that brought virtually nothing fresh and novel to the table.   

THE CIRCLE:  This tech industry thriller began with massive amounts of promise that unfortunately never paid off in the end.   

KING ARTHUR: LEGEND OF THE SWORD: Guy Ritchie's quirky directorial excesses distracted any level of intriguing scripting in this lackluster King Arthur Begins-esque franchise starter. 

ALIEN: COVENANT:  Considering the tantalizing ideas brought forward by PROMETHEUS, this follow-up entry in the ALIEN saga was a disappointing step backwards.

THE MUMMY:  Tom Cruise has never been more uninspiring in any film as he was in this reboot of the classic Universal Studios monster series. 

THE HOUSE:  This home casino themed comedy reflected how each new Will Ferrell comedy is one of diminishing returns.  

THE GREATEST SHOWMAN:  A would-be rousing and toe tapping musical biopic of P.T. Barnum was almost unintentionally funny for how one-sidedly sugarcoated its portrayal of the man was. 

BRIGHT:  The most expensive film in Netflix history was a failed opportunity of marrying the cop thriller with fantasy. 
  And finally, here's a dishonorable mention list of films that I felt were more disappointing than truly awful.  Consider these:  


THE GREAT WALL:  Trust me when I say that the white washing controversy that dogged this Chinese/American production was the least of its concerns, seeing as the end result was lacking in execution.  

GHOST IN THE SHELL:  Speaking of white washing...yeah...this one deserved its criticisms.  

KONG: SKULL ISLAND:  The remarkable visual effects and groovy 1970s setting of this latest King Kong film didn't mask how overstuffed it was with characters and lacking in innovation. 

BEAUTY AND THE BEAST:  Another needless cash-grab Disney live action adaptation of one of their own animated classics.  

POWER RANGERS:  Far better than expected at fleshing out its young heroes, but this POWER RANGERS reboot tried to combine sobering high school drama with goofy super hero heroics with mixed results.

GOING IN STYLE:  This Zach Braff directed old geezers robbing a bank comedy had a sensationally effective casting trio that was undone by prosaic scripting.  

THE FATE OF THE FURIOUS:  I've been an apologist of this series for years, but even I had to concede that this eighth entry seems to be running out of creative gas.

GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY: VOL. 2:  The main issue with this sequel to the splendid original was that it seems to have forgotten what made the first film so bloody special. 

SNATCHED:  This Amy Schumer and Goldie Hawn comedy felt more like an elongated SNL sketch than a fully realized big screen comedy.  

PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: DEAD MEN TELL NO TALES:  This mostly inessential PIRATES sequel was lazily coasting by on pure autopilot. 

WAR MACHINE:  Brad Pitt was superb in this Netflix produced military satire,  but its meandering nature made the film feel disorganized.   

A CURE FOR WELLNESS:  This Gore Verbinski directed psychological horror thriller looked remarkable, but it fundamentally lacked in tension and scares. 

AFTERMATH:  A grizzled Arnold Schwarzenegger gave a grounded and credible performance in this otherwise problematic fact-based drama.   

SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING:  The wall crawler's long awaited entry point into the Marvel Cinematic Universe was modestly entertaining, but seemed to lack a consistent grove and plan of attack for the titular character.   

T2: TRAINSPOTTING:  This twenty years in the making sequel to the 1990s original that defined the pop culture of its era had scripting that never provided for an enthralling follow-through for its characters. 

THE GLASS CASTLE:  An impeccably acted reality based drama about child endangerment that never really had the nerve to seriously tackle the issue.  

COLOSSAL:  A intrinsically novel and ape shit crazy genre mashup that emerged more as a strange curiosity piece than a transcendingly offbeat dramedy that stuck with me.  

GOOD TIME:  Robert Pattinson gave easily the finest performance of his career in this otherwise emotionally cold and distancing crime thriller.

THE LOST CITY OF Z:  Another Robert Pattinson film makes the cut, this one featured him co-staring with Charlie Hunnam in this fact based drama about explorer Percy Fawcett that felt too truncated for its own good.

THE LEGO NINJAGO MOVIE:  Although vibrantly animated and beautiful to behold, this latest LEGO feature film couldn't hold a candle to the far superior THE LEGO MOVIE and THE LEGO BATMAN MOVIE.

THOR: RAGNAROK: This third film in the THOR standalone film trilogy was too aggressively aiming for jokes and pratfalls for my tastes.

STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI: This beautifully shot and impeccably acted eighth episode in the STAR WARS saga featured too much mythology busting for its own good, not to mention that it failed to pay off on key story beats that THE FORCE AWAKENS established.

DOWNSIZING:  Alexander Payne's newest effort was an ambitious change of pace for him, but mournfully emerged as one of his messier and more undisciplined endeavors.  

ALL THE MONEY IN THE WORLD:  The story behind the making of this film - with Christopher Plummer replacing a publicly disgraced Kevin Spacey and with Scott reshooting all of his scenes several weeks before the film released - was arguably more compelling than the film itself. 

THE SHAPE OF WATER:  Guillermo del Toro's period fantasy was beguiling to look at, but emotionally kept me at an arm's distance when it was trying to lure me in.  [added February 11]




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