Well, ladies, gentlemen, those who don’t identify as either, and everyone in between, the time has finally come. The mid-tier movie lists are complete, and the Fisher Awards nominations are fast approaching. But before that time comes, we’re gonna buckle up and start getting definitive. Welcome back to The Friendly Film Fan, and today, we’re talking about the absolute worst of the past year in movies. Doing “worst” lists has always bothered me a little bit, because making movies is hard, and making good ones is even harder, but for whatever reason, studios still choose to greenlight a great many things that are unnecessary, uninspired, insensitive, or all three. Such is the case with many of the films listed here, which you can check out if you so desire, but you are also more than okay to pass over (I chose to take passes on The Last Days of American Crime and Scoob!, for my part). Without wasting too much more of your time, let’s dive right in. Here are my picks for the Top 10 Worst Movies of 2020!
10. Monster Hunter
Monster Hunter, a multiplayer video game franchise with no linear narrative to speak of, was never going to be any sort of groundbreaking work in the video game movie adaptation genre, but given how bad the film actually is, anything even halfway decent would probably feel like a win. Unfortunately, the film’s not halfway decent – in fact, it’s pretty far removed from being that, in a bad way. The action is incredibly difficult to follow at times, the camerawork feels so randomized it’s like they put a “shuffle” option onto their shooting style and ran with it, and the film is so poorly edited it almost literally gave me a headache to watch. Any characters we could care about disappear as soon as there’s an opportunity to develop them, and the “story” being told has a billion holes all throughout. The only reason this movie isn’t higher on the list is due to the actually quite excellent creature effects and the final battle being (mostly) pretty cool to watch. Even then, the film is pushing it.
9. Artemis Fowl
I never read the Artemis Fowl books as a kid, so I’m in a bit of two boats with this one; for one, I probably didn’t hate it as much as book readers did because I don’t have any personal attachment to the lore and details present in the source material, but I also can only speak on whether or not it works as a movie separated from that same source material, which means I can’t critique its apparent failures as an adaptation (though, from what I hear, they are abundant). Regardless, there were two movies steeped in Irish folklore released this year, and this was by far the worse of the two. Again, I can only speak on it as a movie detached from its source material, but even there, this is one of the worst children’s adventure films I’ve ever seen, largely because no one goes on any sort of adventure in it. Disney being forced to dump this onto Disney+ was maybe the luckiest they ever got with their 2020 slate, as (apart from fans of the books) the movie essentially got buried, and with good reason. The film sets up so many things as if they’re going to be important or somehow change what the outcome of the story should be, but the only thing I could take away from it was how sorry I felt for Judi Dench having to die in Skyfall and then appear in Cats and this back-to-back as significant characters.
8. Brahms: The Boy II
How bad is this movie? It totally undoes the entire point of the first movie, attempting to retcon the purpose of the Brahms doll, and then does absolutely nothing scary with that. In execution, the story beat feels like an afterthought, as if someone decided they needed a sequel to the lackluster The Boy, but they didn’t even consider the need to correct the ending of that movie in order to make this one work until halfway through principal photography. Katie Holmes has been good in other stuff (let’s not forget she was the original Rachel Dawes), but she’s utterly wasted here, and the jump scares the movie does attempt to use are both annoying in presence and ineffective in execution. And, as a final note, that title and its order are just atrocious.
7. The Grudge (2020)
This only landed both as low and as high as it did because I cannot remember one thing that actually happened in this movie other than John Cho going into a house and getting possessed by a…bathtub? Or maybe there was just a demon in the bathtub of this house? I honestly only remember that he and Andrea Riseborough are both in it, and only one of them has interesting stuff to do. There’s little to recommend and even less to remember about this film, and I think, even if I watched it again, I’d just come away with the same conclusion.
Whoo boy, alright…Dolittle. Needless to say, Robert Downey Jr.’s first film to open post-MCU (they likely shot this a while ago) is a dumpster fire of epic proportions that bypasses all of its more interesting ideas and introduces newer, more bizarre ideas in their place. I’m not sure Dr. Dolittle was ever all that interesting of a character to begin with, and RDJ is doing…something…here…, but the bare-bones script and absurd editing of the film make his performance far less engaging than it could have ever been, even with a story this bad, this silly, and this all-over-the-place. Jessie Buckley is in this movie for like 5 total minutes, and for 4 of them, she’s just asleep in a bed. The climax of this movie is a dragon farting into RDJ’s mouth. I’m not making any of this up, but boy, do I wish I was.
5. 2 Hearts
I had incredibly low expectations going into 2 Hearts, which ends up just being a feature-length organ donor PSA, so while I actually didn’t hate watching it in the moment, I’m not going to pretend that that means it was any good at all. The film wants to make us care about both romances in the story, but one just feels like a fanfiction story brought to screen, and the other employs a “twist” you can see coming so far away that any attachment you might have been able to build just feels pointless the second the relationship starts. TL;DR – be an organ donor and feel free to skip this movie if you’re on the fence (but especially if you're leaning that direction).
4. After We Collided
You all remember After, the Wattpad Studios movie (I still can’t believe I have to write that and say it out loud every time I talk about these things) adapted from a fanfiction so painfully generic and incredibly ridiculous that it made my “Worst Of” list last year? Well, not only did the end of the last movie apparently not happen, they did it again, except this time they took out all the shitty romantic stuff and replaced it with shitty sexual stuff, adding some R-level cursing and a “love triangle” to boot. (I put “love triangle” in quotes because the movie sets it up but then does nothing with it.) After We Collided is a terrible, terrible movie, but part of me is starting to think that this might just become my favorite “so bad it’s good” franchise by the time it’s done. The storytelling is so sloppy, the Hardin character continues to make no sense whatsoever – there’s a moment where he reacts in absolutely hilarious fashion to the “look what the cat dragged in” expression – and sounds like he has a fake British accent despite the fact that he is British, and the film once again contains an ending that serves the story in absolutely no way. Dylan Sprouse is the best part of the movie, but only because he gets to say “I’m drunk, I’m uncomfortable, and I just saw a tampon on the floor – I’m leaving.” What Mission: Impossible 7 set? This is the gold standard.
3. Fantasy Island
Jeff Wadlow has made two movies for horror studio Blumhouse so far. The first was Truth or Dare, which I did not personally see but was not received well, and this is the second. When a PG-13 horror movie plucks a bunch of CW-looking actors to all be stuck on an island together, engaging in twisted versions of their own fantasies like some sort of freaky Fyre Festival, one can usually tell the film won’t be very good. The level of bad to which Fantasy Island sinks isn’t quite on another level, but it sure tries to get there. The script makes a huge deal of the characters saying “fantasy freaking island” so they can drop the “fucking” into one of the character’s lines at the end of the movie, but given that PG-13 films can have been able to have two “fucks” in the script since 2015, it all just seems like nobody told them that, and the “catharsis” one is meant to feel in that moment actually feels absurdly childish, like that one curse word parents allow kids to say at birthday parties or sleepovers. This is all before we get to the fact that the “twisted fantasies” in the film are meant to all tie into each other, and while they mostly do, that added context makes earlier moments in the film feel totally illogical and unnecessary. There is one that almost gets interesting when a Call of Duty obsessed attendant actually discovers he doesn’t want to be in a military-style firefight, but even that means nothing by the film’s end. Dear Blumhouse, please stop doing these.
2. 365 Days
You could be forgiven for never having heard of Netflix’s international, overly-raunchy spin on Fifty Shades of Grey; the only problem therein is that it seems everyone who has a Netflix account knew about this movie the weekend it debuted on the service, considering it hit #1 on the streamer’s Top 10 list…twice (Spike Lee’s Da 5 Bloods took over the spot four days into Days’ debut; Days reclaimed the spot four days later). I can certainly understand why – movies about sexually passionate relationships have always drawn a crowd, especially on streaming services, and Days had a particularly scandalous reputation in that regard – but for the life of me, I cannot understand why Netflix produced, or anyone watched, this horribly misguided film, let alone enough to bring it back to #1 a second time. The entire premise hinges on a kidnapping victim falling in love with a mobster in just under a year (not an unheard of story), but considering how cringey and poorly written most of his dialogue is, it’s a wonder the cameras didn’t stop rolling the second they heard the script through the leading man’s unbearably “bro-tone” voice. It’s not a particularly good performance either. There is no moment, at any point in the film, where the two characters genuinely connect beyond a physical level, so the “romance” never materializes, and the ending of it feels laughable rather than tragic, as if the movie sincerely believes anyone cares about these characters enough to be remotely affected by what happens to either of them, and how the other reacts to that. Much like Artemis Fowl, this movie too has a parallel situation to another: there is a Sicilian mob plot where the protagonist interrogates a man named Alfredo. And, as I’m sure you’ve guessed, these films too are not remotely of the same quality.
Movies about the Covid-19 pandemic are a dime a dozen even as the living through it has not yet ended (for the United States, at least). We’ve barely begun the vaccine rollout, all things considered. And yet, back in September, a little movie came out called Songbird, which imagined the novel Covid-19 virus had mutated into Covid-23 – a far more lethal strain – and that if you in any way attempted to exit your home without being immune, you would be shot on site. The film also features a health task force with a threatening leader that shows up at your door if you so much as run a fever or cough, as well as a “black market border pass” that allows individuals to exit what are known as “quarantine zones;” in the film, they’re framed as being equivalent to concentration camps. Songbird is poorly made, insensitively crafted, and wildly irresponsible. Setting aside its thinly drawn and undeveloped characters, the nonsensical camerawork, the scattered script, the bad editing, and the truly miraculous stretches in logic, the fact that it was even made at all is a blight on moviemaking itself. The leagues of fearmongering and whataboutism this film engages in just to make its premise plausible is beyond laughable, it’s outright dangerous. There are still people who don’t believe the virus is real (or if they do, think it’s only so the government can exact its will on people), and this film does absolutely everything it can to satiate the fantasies of those people, whether it intends to or not. This movie shouldn’t exist. And yet, it does, and the world is worse off for it (though that does tend to happen these days where Michael Bay is involved). This may not be pound-for-pound the worst movie of 2020, but it is without a doubt the one I hated the most, in concept, execution, and presentation. Fuck Songbird.
And those are my picks for the Top 10 Worst Movies of 2020! What movies did you vehemently dislike this year? Any not on this list that should be? Let me know in the comments section below. Thanks for reading!
- The Friendly Film Fan