It’s been a fine year at the movies, and we at Time Out have already listed our 20 favourites, from the smash-and-grab insania of ‘Mad Max: Fury Road’ to the flawless restraint of ‘Carol’. But 2015 threw up (pun intended) its fair share of utter stinkers too – perhaps even more than its fair share. From lumbering dinosaurs to human centipedes, moustachioed megastars to mirthless mall cops, here are 20 films we won’t be revisiting fondly in the years to come.
What is it? The biggest box-office hit of the year was this long-awaited reboot for Steven Spielberg’s beloved dinosaur franchise.
Why so terrible? Here was a film that prized size over substance, and expensive special effects over genuine awe and wonder. The characters were either forgettable or offensive – see Chris Pratt’s macho hero and Bryce Dallas Howard’s brittle businesswoman who just needs to chill out, get laid and have a family like a proper woman – and the big new genetically-modified dinosaur was a total washout. A brontosaurus-sized disappointment.
Worst moment The justly ridiculed scene in which Howard flees from a marauding T-Rex without taking her high heels off first. Though perhaps it’s worth it for the dinos-in-heels meme that followed.
What is it? M Night Shyamalan returns to the spooky thrills of his early work with this tale of two kids who go on a weekend trip to meet the grandparents they never knew.
Why so terrible? As a whole, ‘The Visit’ is not a disaster: the creepy scenes are genuinely scary, and there’s a neat twist to prove Shyamalan hasn’t lost his touch. But it’s on this list for one reason, and he’s short, blonde and loves to rap. Yes, Ed Oxenbould’s 10-year-old lyrical gangster Tyler was the most insanely irritating character in any movie this year. You’ll be cheering when an old man rubs shit in his face.
Worst moment The end credits, as Tyler recaps the entire movie in rhyming couplets. Just try not to put a hammer through your TV.
What is it? Johnny Depp plays an aristocratic English art thief in this old-fashioned comedy adventure.
Why so terrible? Of all the terrible films on this list, ‘Mortdecai’ is the only one that was actually better than we thought it was going to be. Which doesn’t mean it’s any good, of course, just that our expectations couldn’t have been lower. Depp is at his wacky worst as the moustachioed Mortdecai, and there are approximately three decent jokes in the entire film. Still, that’s three more than ‘Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2’.
Worst moment When you realise that Depp’s Scottish manservant, played by Paul Bettany, really is called Jock Strapp.
What is it? Teenage boys meet the living dead as zombies attack a small suburban town.
Why so terrible? This is one of those movies where it feels like the writers came up with a fun premise – a bunch of boy scouts take on a zombie plague – and then just stopped there. You could literally sketch the entire plot on the back of a beer mat – ‘they meet a stripper, a penis gets ripped off, they kill some zombies, the end’. Lazy and tedious.
Worst moment Of all the furtive, aren’t-women’s-bodies-disgusting moments scattered throughout, the zombie cunnilingus scene is especially icky.
What is it? Jennifer Lopez plays a woman who foolishly sleeps with the cute boy next door, only to find out he’s (surprise!) a raging nutter.
Why so terrible? Many critics gleefully chucked this one in the so-bad-it’s-good pile, and there are moments of juicily ridiculous fun, particularly in the loopy climax. But overall it’s just not bonkers enough to be enjoyable, trudging through the ‘Fatal Attraction’ clichés in dull, box-ticking fashion.
Worst moment Many singled out the scene where Lopez gives her paramour a ‘first edition’ of Homer’s ‘Odyssey’ as a particular embarrassment. We argue that it could be the first publication of a specific translation. So take that, smartypants.
What is it? Simon Pegg stars in Terry Jones’s wish-fulfilment comedy about a downtrodden teacher given absolute power by a group of aliens voiced by the surviving Monty Python team.
Why so terrible? We never expected cutting-edge humour from the 73-year-old Jones, but ‘Absolutely Anything’ still feels like a creaky 1970s-sitcom throwback, crammed with lazy old gags about boobs, talking dogs and noisy Americans. Pegg’s selfish-everyman lead performance is particularly lazy.
Worst moment When a love spell causes Sanjeev Bhaskar’s foxy female colleague to fall madly in love with him, a routine we’ve seen roughly 9,000 times before.
What is it? ‘Kick-Ass’ director Matthew Vaughn takes on the spy genre, with Colin Firth as the old hand teaching young Taron Egerton how to be a gent.
Why so terrible? This is one of those movies whose awfulness sneaks up on you: on the surface it’s a crowd-pleasing romp stuffed with well-choreographed violence and Bond-inspired gags. But then you notice the class politics – all grimy council-estate geezers and sophisticated, well-dressed poshos. And the sexism really ramps up – there’s one joke towards the end which is simply, unforgivably vile. A nasty piece of work all round.
Worst moment The aforementioned gag, in which a young woman who’s been kept in a cage for weeks hilariously offers our hero anal sex as a reward for saving her.
What is it? Daniel Radders is Igor, the real brains behind the monster long attributed to Dr Frankenstein (James McAvoy).
Why so terrible? Here you have one of the all-time classics – a novel hailed by some as the year zero of science fiction, a horror masterpiece. And some bright spark comes along and decides enough with the big philosophical questions – the pursuit of knowledge, man striving to be God. Let’s add a circus! And what a criminal waste of two damn fine actors. James McAvoy chews the scenery like a starving man and poor Daniel Radcliffe gets an Anna Wintour haircut.
Worst moment A psychotic monkey-monster stitched together from bits of dead animals goes on the rampage in a medical school.
What is it? Were we all clamouring for a remake of Harold Ramis’s 1983 family misadventure? No time to wonder: just strap in as a noxious new generation of Griswolds hits the road for a trip to Walley World and comedy oblivion.
Why so terrible? Simply put, none of the jokes work (blame the ‘Horrible Bosses’ writers, stepping up to direct). Moreover, you really have to love the original movie to endure the constant stream of fawning references. Worst, though, is the indignity heaped upon decent actors like Ed Helms, Christina Applegate and Leslie Mann. When a cameo from Chris Hemsworth is the funniest thing about your picture, you’ve got a problem.
Worst moment The family’s accidental dip in a pond of raw sewage works as a perfect metaphor for the viewing experience.
What is it? ‘Saturday Night Live’ star Kevin Hart sells himself as a best man to friendless schlub Josh Gad, who is about to marry the woman of his dreams.
Why so terrible? This is one of those dire American comedies that tries to do bad taste and gushy sentiment at the same time, and fails horribly at both. Hart is a thoroughly spiteful, unpleasant presence, and the film’s treatment of women veers between fearful and hateful.
Worst moment The bachelor party, in which one character gets a blowjob from a Bassett hound, gives some idea of what to expect.
What is it? A reboot of the iconic killer-robot saga, twisting the timeline to allow two Arnold Schwarzeneggers to occupy the screen simultaneously.
Why so terrible? There was a slight air of desperation around this from the beginning: hurried into production so Paramount could complete a new trilogy before the rights to the franchise pass back to creator James Cameron, the film was badly thought-out and spectacularly bland, aimed at the mainstream teen action market rather than the horror and sci-fi fans who made the original a hit. Oh, and that title is just embarrassing.
Worst moment We’ve forgotten most of the plot already, but can remember the banging headache we had afterwards.
What is it? A bizarrely overqualified cast, including Jeff Bridges and Julianne Moore, muddle through this weak, old-school fantasy flick.
Why so terrible? This is one of those movies where nothing works even slightly: the fantasy setting is derivative and lame, the special effects are blurry and unconvincing and the script is just utter sludge (‘When you deal with dark, dark gets in you.’). At least Jeff Bridges looks like he’s vaguely enjoying himself, saddled as he is with an accent that sounds like Albert Steptoe dying of consumption.
Worst moment When the witchy villains take a break from being evil to admire each other’s shoes.
What is it? Adam Sandler plays a New York shoesmith who (stick with us here) finds that his father’s old cobbling machine has the magic power to make him look like whoever the shoes he’s wearing originally belonged to.
Why so terrible? For starters, there’s the premise, so ridiculously far-fetched and lame that your average seven-year-old would roll her eyes and tell you to pull the other one. Add simmering undercurrents of racism and misogyny and a total absence of decent jokes, and the result ain’t pretty. Amazingly, writer-director Tom McCarthy was also responsible for one of the year’s best movies, ‘Spotlight’ (out here in 2016).
Worst moment When Sandler uses a pair of magic shoes (sigh) to disguise himself as Dan Stevens, so he can spy on his girlfriend in the shower. Ew.
What is it? Vin Diesel stars as an ageless medieval warrior, now living in New York and hunting down sorceresses for a living.
Why so terrible? This is yet another of those dire modern action movies (‘Snow White and the Huntsman’, ‘I, Frankenstein’, ‘Dracula Unbound’) that takes an old fairytale or a classic horror story, slathers it in crappy CGI effects and badly choreographed swordplay and hopes the audience won’t notice that it has zero new ideas to offer.
Worst moment ‘We don't destroy witches anymore, we incarcerate them. We’ve taken the most powerful witches that walked the Earth and put them in one place.’ Where, Vin? Tell us! Tell us! ‘The witch prison.’ Oh.
What is it? We’re back to a banal suburban home, a haunted little girl and parents fumbling with video cameras.
Why so terrible? Even though this was the sixth instalment, fans had residual goodwill for this low-budget franchise, if only to see how the filmmakers would turn everyday objects into killing machines. Then the worst happened: money. Lots of it. The sequel’s ample FX budget kills off any kind of scares, and the charm is lost. Porn-level acting and multiple ‘Poltergeist’ rip-offs don’t help either.
Worst moment Wandering around his cosy Christmas den, the dad of the household peers through that weird old camera he found in the garage. Black spectral goo hangs in the air. Is it a trick of the light? Has he had too much eggnog? Eh, whatever – he’ll figure it out later.
What is it? Salma Hayek plays a former sex slave who escapes from the Japanese mafia gang who held her captive.
Why so terrible? Mainly because it's sexist, misogynist, torture-porn bile full of racial stereotypes, but also because it's a boring drag of a watch. The film's not the revenge thriller it's pitched as; it's an exhausting onslaught of degradation for its one strong, female character, without any real payoff. Everly is gang-raped, shot, stabbed and tortured, in between gratuitous shower scenes (especially grubby since we're watching the aftermath of a rape). You'll be glad when it’s over.
Worst moment When Everly is forced to watch her mother choke on acid while her baby daughter is in the next room.
What is it? Ryan Gosling steps behind the camera for a heavily stylised tale of a small American town pushed to post-apocalyptic levels of depravity by social collapse. It's about, like, the state of the modern world, innit? A parable, yeah?
Why so terrible? 'Lost River' is a bundle of cinematic clichés, most of them emerging from the apparent belief that poverty and suffering can look seriously cool when filtered through the eyes of your favourite filmmakers (think David Lynch, Terrence Malick and Nicolas Winding Refn). There are characters and events, but they're buried beneath endless music-video stylings. The film was roundly booed at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival and took almost a year to reach UK cinema screens.
Worst moment Gosling's attempts to integrate his famous cast (Christina Hendricks, Matt Smith, Saoirse Ronan) with ‘real’ residents of Detroit (where he shot ‘Lost River’) are painfully embarrassing.
What is it? Tom Hardy plays a strangely accented detective in post-war Soviet Russia, on the trail of a brutal child murderer.
Why so terrible? Ever heard a cat trying to cough up a fur ball? Imagine the cat was Tom Hardy, with a really grumpy look on his face. Now imagine Tom cat is surrounded by loads of other cats who look like Gary Oldman, Paddy Considine – all your favourite actors, all trying to cough up fur balls at the same time. Now place them in a ruined armaments factory on the outskirts of Moscow. Bingo: ‘Child 44’.
Worst moment Whenever Tom says ‘Da’, despite the fact that all his other dialogue is in English.
What is it? Kevin James returns as the hapless security guard, heading to a convention in LA with his teenage daughter.
Why so terrible? The BFI cinema in London recently ran a season of movies inspired by Russian arthouse genius Andrei Tarkovsky, whose films are infamous for their deliberate pacing, grim settings and spiritually bankrupt characters. This apocalyptically joke-free and utterly soulless anti-comedy could have slotted neatly onto the programme.
Worst moment The scenes of local beauty Divina attempting to seduce the oblivious Blart are particularly queasy.
What is it? Do you promise it’s the final sequence? Because we’re going to hold you to that. Dutch director Tom Six manages to top the crudeness of his first two instalments of ass-to-mouth horror with a capper that includes political commentary on the American penal system. It’s like being lectured by a four-year-old.
Why so terrible? Already, Six’s concept required no further elaboration, no sequels, only the sands of time to bury it. But everything about ‘The Human Centipede III’ makes you feel disgusting for committing your time. Lead actor Dieter Laser is shouty and tiresome as a sadistic Texas warden; the film looks yellowish and repulsive (not on purpose); and the only female role is played by pornstar Bree Olson, often on her knees plying her trade.
Worst moment Six shows up as a preening version of himself, brought in as a consultant for the warden’s cost-saving food scheme. ‘I don't speak with a stupid filmmaker about his poop fetish!’ says Laser before their meeting, but he eventually gives in. What’s our excuse?
Find out which movies were the best
Yes, it's true, we haven't seen 'Star Wars: The Force Awakens' yet – but 2015 is very nearly up and it's time to choose the best movies of 2015. Here, we present a varied bunch of great movies that have rocked our world over the past 12 months, some romantic, some funny, some horrific, all excellent. And if 'Star Wars' turns out to be as great as we hope (fingers crossed), consider it number 21 on this list. Here's to 2015, and roll on 2016!