I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again; I have a real love for film. There is no question that I get completely taken in by the hype that is generated around movies on their release. There are a multitude of blogs, YouTube channels and even TV shows dedicated to the build-up prior to the release of a movie, particularly if it’s a blockbuster. Be honest with yourself, one of the best bits about visiting the cinema are the trailers. All of this makes that first glimpse of the actual film even better.
But what happens when you sit down at home or in the cinema and the film you have expected so much from isn’t all it was cracked up to be? The feeling of excitement and anticipation turns into genuine rage. I’ve lost count of the disgusting and barbaric things I claim I’d rather do than “pay money to see that again.” It may seem unreasonable to be so angry over a film, but in a time where cinema tickets are so expensive and there is such a high saturation of films released on a regular basis, I hope you’d forgive me for being livid at a film I’ve expected so much from.
So here it is, a list of films that were a massive let down. A lot of these films are sequels and with good reason. The films that preceded them created the hype for the followups. Other films on this list had an amazing PR campaign prior to the release. So take a look at the 10 films that should have been brilliant but let us down.
Disclaimer: There are one or two spoilers but they are marked. So if you don’t want a movie ruined and you see the “s word” just move onto the next entry!
10. The Conjuring
The Conjuring had that Exorcist feel to it before it was released, with stories of cursed sets during production. In post-production, there was a fear and excitement generated by a strong cast, a chilling trailer and an amazing PR move. Signs outside of screenings in the US offered spiritual counsel after early screenings caused members of the audience to experience “many unusual experiences.” The only unusual experience I encountered was a sh*t-stirring boredom like none I’d experienced before. Everything about The Conjuring felt flat and without any personality. During the film, the hype created around the movie suddenly appeared silly and over the top. The use of mirrors, jump scares and terrible monster characters finished off what was already a bland snorefest. I felt embarrassed for being sucked into the belief this film could genuinely effect me. Guess who won’t be going to see The Conjuring 2?
9. Death Proof
Released as a double feature titled as Grindhouse, Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino paid homage to the exploitation films of the 1970s with Planet Terror and Death Proof. Planet Terror was incredible and had everything you would hope for from an exploitation movie remake. So the expectation was there for Death Proof to be just as good – particularly with Kurt Russell as the lead. Unfortunately, it was immediately forgettable and very long winded. Even Tarantino himself said it was the worst movie he had ever made. There is praise online for Death Proof, but the main reason it finds its place on this list is because of what was expected from it. After Planet Terror introduced Rose McGowan as a go-go dancer with a rocket propelled grenade launcher for a leg, I was excited to see what a murderous Kurt Russell could do. It turned out that he could talk… a lot. Go and watch Planet Terror, you will not be let down. Watch Death Proof, but don’t expect a lot of action.
Okay, this entry comes with a huge spoiler warning because the main issue with this film is the ending. So if you don’t want it ruining for you, please skip to number 7!
Unlike a lot of the movies on this list, there wasn’t a mass amount of hype around this film. It did, however, have an amazing line-up. Peter Sarsgaard, Vera Farmiga and a relatively unknown (at the time) Isabelle Fuhrman headed the cast and Leonardo DiCaprio was attached as a producer. The film had a genuine sense of mystery to it. The characters were well developed and intricate. An overly knowledgeable young girl named Esther was adopted into a family plagued by hardship and all seemed well. Unfortunately, not all is well and Esther seems to be the root of more problems. Tension grows and there is a genuine element of fear and excitement surrounding the outcome of this film. Unfortunately, it turns out (SPOILER) that this young girl is actually a grown woman with a hormone deficiency that stunts her growth. This woman has a real fetish for being adopted by families, sleeping with the father and killing the family off. If you think I’ve just skimmed over some major details or been flippant about the ending… watch the film. Let down.
7. Hostel: Part 2
Eli Roth‘s gorefest Hostel was a masterpiece. Some people considered it “torture p*rn”, where others considered it a wonderful social commentary. There was another camp, of course, that just enjoyed it as a tense and often ridiculously gory horror film. I fell into the latter group and just enjoyed it for how much of a thrill ride it actually was. So I was ready for more of the same in Hostel: Part 2. The old phrase “Don’t fix what isn’t broken” works for the second instalment in the Hostel series. Unfortunately they went over the line that is drawn between brilliantly ridiculous (take the Achilles tendon scene in the first film) and the utterly ridiculous (bathing in a Roman bath of blood). This felt like a movie that was aiming for maximum shock value rather than to entertain or raise questions. There is nothing wrong with pushing boundaries and exploring what is and isn’t acceptable. Hostel: Part 2, however, felt like it was gory for the sake of it. Yes, it’s gory and if you’re looking for inspiration to murder people in a creative way (not that I condone murder, incidentally), Hostel: Part 2 is for you. If not, just watch the first one. Much better.
6. Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace
Star Wars fans curse one name and one name only – Jar Jar Binks. Those three words lead to a collective groan from the entire Star Wars fanbase. Imagine waiting sixteen years for a film in your favourite franchise. The original Star Wars trilogy was known for its space battles, intricate relationships, the fight between the light and the dark side… There were so many developed themes that meant this wasn’t your typical sci-fi series. So more of the same was expected. Instead, fans were treat to a trade dispute and Jar Jar bloody Binks. The film’s saving graces were the huge cast names including Natalie Portman, Liam Neeson and Ewan McGregor, as well as the exceptionally cool antagonist Darth Maul. Unfortunately, this couldn’t redeem the rest of the film that took a big steamy sh*t on the legacy the previous trilogy had left behind. The question is, if you haven’t already seen it, how much do you care about the story line through the saga? If your answer is anything but “I care more about that than my life,” just skip to Episode II and Google the plot of Episode I.
Much like Orphan earlier in the list, Insidious being on this list is for a very particular section of the film – the ending. There will be some (albeit very light) spoilers so, again, please move to number four if you haven’t seen this film.
Insidious set itself up to be an incredible film. The trailer and cast created an exciting premise. After the chillingly brilliant Hard Candy, the inclusion of Patrick Wilson was very promising and any film with Rose Byrne in it is (usually) a winner in my book. Insidious built up tension so well. It felt like this film was really going somewhere and could have been (dare I say it?) a modern day Poltergeist. The answer by the end was… no. I know a lot of people enjoyed this movie and this will probably be an “unpopular opinion”, but this film fell on its face. The inclusion of some strange, red demon creature destroyed this film and, from there, it felt convoluted where it didn’t need to be. The one thing that brings this film from the depths is its sequel. Insidious: Chapter 2 is a solid film from start to finish and doesn’t have the drop that the first chapter had. Don’t get me started on the third instalment… I’d rather watch paint dry. Exceptionally slow-drying, ugly paint.
4. The Matrix Revolutions
One of the crowning achievements in 1999 was to say that you understood The Matrix on the first watch. Admittedly I was only eleven at the time of its release so it made me feel particularly intelligent to have understood it! After watching it more, it wasn’t just about understanding the film’s plot. Everything about the film was sensational and stands the test of time 17 years on. That’s where they should have left it. The second instalment was nowhere near as good as the first, but it had some brilliant moments, including Neo (Keanu Reeves) fighting against a multitude of Agent Smiths (Hugo Weaving). When the third instalment was released, people still expected greatness. The first film was still ringing in the ears of fans even after the questionable sequel. Unfortunately, they were let down even further. The Matrix Revolutions seemed to go backwards in terms of visual effects and the story became muddled with the previous film. It could have been one sequel instead of two, stopping fans of the original being let down twice.
3. 300: Rise Of An Empire
Gerard Butler was iconic in the role of Leonidas in 300, there is no question about that. Much like many of Zack Snyder‘s films, the original was so stylish and wonderfully directed. Audiences were gripped by the tale of 300 Spartan men battling against the Persian army. The premise was simple and well executed. 300: Rise Of An Empire places around the time of the first film. Unfortunately, it takes very little from it. The film feels like Warner Bros. saw the success of the first film and had to take something from that. Even the movie’s fight scenes, which could have been the one positive, felt forced and desperate to be like its cooler, older brother. This is another case of iconic first film turned into a cash cow. You are missing nothing by not seeing this movie. I don’t mean to be horrible, but just watch the first one again!
2. The Purge (And The Purge: Anarchy)
What a premise The Purge had. One night of the year, all laws are null and void. For horror film fans, this was the holy grail of possibilities. The everyday public being able to exact their sickest fantasies for a limited time. What audiences were given, however, was one family locked in a house hounded by a group of relatively ineffective “purgers.” There is a whole country killing each other and yet the film chooses to focus on this one boring situation. It was a potential gold mine for what could have been. The sequel promised what we’d hoped for… Anarchy. Although we were rewarded with some wonderful kills and a big old chain gun mounted to a truck, audiences were also plagued with bad writing, cliches and an awkward attempt at commentary on the class system in America. Part of me hopes The Purge: Election Year will be the film we have hoped for. Part of me doesn’t want to waste my time and money again.
1. Sin City: A Dame To Kill For
It feels wrong to see that combination of words at the top of a list for poor films. Sin City was stylish, gripping and a benchmark for what an outstanding movie should be. It had an all-star cast and a script to go with it. So when the second instalment was announced with a lot of the same cast and the inclusion of some big hitters (Josh Brolin, Eva Green and Joseph Gordon-Levitt to name a few) there was a real buzz around Sin City: A Dame To Kill For. Unfortunately this film was a stain on the incredible precedent set by its predecessor. The story was all over the place and didn’t have the stark fluidity we had come to expect from the original movie. Some of the graphics that made the first film so good were so overdone, they went from being clever to just being… there. Unfortunately, for fans of the first film, the expectation was not met, by a long shot. Sequels are often a risk but A Dame To Kill For missed the mark by too far.