By The Playlist Staff | The Playlist December 12, 2013 at 12:08PM
You know us, dear reader, we’re on the side of the angels. Most days of the year will find us, Pollyanna-like, looking on the bright side of the movie world, championing the weak, giving succour to the neglected and finding the silver lining to every cinematic cloud. But not today. Because, screw that, we’re giving vent to the bile that has built up over twelve months of diligent moviegoing and letting it rip on those movies that just fucking suck. And while we still believe in reasoned argument and persuasive rhetoric to get our points across, forgive us if we occasionally lapse into hyperbole here, and remember that these are films that take two-odd hours of our (and your) lives and brainspace, that could be given to something much more deserving, rewarding and wondrous, and serve us mulch instead. I mean, Bergman’s “Autumn Sonata” is roughly the same length as Sandler’s “Grown Ups 2.”
Of course it’s not quite true that we only allow ourselves this orgy of recrimination once a year, in fact we did do a halfway-mark “Worst of the Year so far” feature in which we chose our personal duds of 2013 to date and gently eviscerated them. A few of those picks have made it onto this more comprehensive and general year-end list, though a notable few have not. So while elsewhere, we’ll be going on ad infinitum about what kind of a year 2013 was at the movies, and how much hope it instills for us in the future (quite a lot, actually) here we…celebrate? the other end of that spectrum and give vent to our more pessimistic instincts. I mean, who’d have thought in July that enough terrible movies would be released by December to push “The Incredible Burt Wonderstone” off the list altogether? Ordered from least-most terrible to most-most terrible, ladies and gentlemen, here are the Playlist’s 20 Worst Films of 2013.
20. "Violet & Daisy"
There's nothing worse than a crummy exploitation movie with grander pretensions. And there are fewer crummy exploitation movies that are more pretentious than "Violet & Daisy," which is seemingly about the two chattiest teenage assassins in the history of B-movies. The directorial debut from "Precious" screenwriter Geoffrey Fletcher, is slow, clumsy and stagy, with our would-be warriors (Saoirse Ronan and Alexis Bledel) talking their intended target (James Gandolfini, in one of his more inglorious final performances) to death. This movie is a special kind of boring, one in which you can't believe that you're still watching it, even with a relatively brisk runtime of 88 minutes. Brief stylistic flourishes are undone by the hoary, implausible twist at the end and the character work is constantly undermining itself, with these coldblooded killers engaging in infantile games. The movie's supposed outrageousness can't make up for a screenplay more leaden than a whole box full of bullets.
This is the most recent movie to make the list and easily one of the most awful of the year. For some reason, it was decided that a spineless American remake of a gutsy South Korean original was a good idea. And honestly, when the decision was made to hire Spike Lee to helm the project, our interest, if not skyrocketed, at least rose, and rose again when Lee put together an interesting cast, including Josh Brolin, as a character mysteriously imprisoned for 20 years and then just-as-mysteriously released, and Elizabeth Olsen as the woman he befriends on the outside. But watching the movie, it's apparent how wrong Lee's approach was, despite a scene where Samuel L. Jackson almost gets his head torn off. For one thing, the imprisonment section of the movie, which lasts for about fifteen minutes in the South Korean original, is expanded to the entire first act in the remake. This not only slows things down to a sluggish pace but also causes the rest of the movie to feel hurried and unbalanced. "Oldboy" should be about a man confronting his past and discovering what, exactly, he did to provoke such hatred. Instead it's about a guy who is in jail for a long time and when he's out he kills a bunch of people. The violence and sexuality in the film are somehow more unbearable than the more realistic original, to the point that a woman sitting next to us at our screening almost left during one of the many, seemingly endless torture sequences. There are a lot of ways in which "Oldboy" could have been misread or poorly adapted, and Spike Lee found every single one.
18. “Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters”
This film is an easy punching bag, but that doesn’t excuse it from further punching at the end of the year. Tommy Wirkola’s nonsense violent fairy tale adaptation took the trend and punted it into absurdity, starting with the unrelentingly stupid script. Adapting the fairy tale of two siblings who escape the cannibalistic clutches of a terrifying witch, Wirkola drags the thing into the 21st century with the help of many f-bombs and a variety of gatling guns. Working with usually well-regarded actors Jeremy Renner and Gemma Arterton, Wirkola’s screenplay manages to make both of them come off like they’re mildly brain damaged. Renner, in particular, seems bewildered in every scene, especially when he’s boning horny witches in forest pools. Arterton, meanwhile, spends the entire film stating everything aloud that we’ve already seen on screen, and hanging out with a giant troll named Edward. The movie also features more direct punches to female faces than any other film we’ve seen this year, and with a very specific kind of glee. Famke Janssen plays a head witch to a ridiculous level of camp, while Peter Stormare wears a ridiculous nose patch. Nothing makes sense, and Hansel and Gretel, while fierce witch hunters, are some of the dumbest characters in cinema this year, or ever. It’s really just very stupid, and maybe this is making you want to see it more which is not our intention. That’s okay, do as you will, just remember that we told you so (three times over, in fact).