First, if you missed Part One, containing the entire list, please check it out here.
I had originally intended to list the ten worst, but we try to keep positivity going on this site (unless a movie is so terrible we feel it is our duty to warn fellow horror fans not to waste their time/money). So, I carved it down to the worst five. Not to mention, the bad ones were so bad that just revisiting the memories of watching them (so I can give you reasons they were shitty) made my head feel like someone was squeezing it. You’ll notice there’s a high number of found-footage horror on the list, but surprisingly, only two of them made it to “worst” (though if I had done ten instead of five, more might show up).
1. Carver, 2008 (NR)
Oh man, this was terrible. Here’s my full disclosure: I wouldn’t have watched it if it wasn’t supposed to be chock-full of gory practical effects. Having it be an low-budget indie also factored in there. I also wouldn’t have watched it if it wasn’t free. Man oh man, am I glad I did not pay money to see this crap. Uh, the plot, and it just may sound the tiniest bit familiar: Three young men and two women decide to go on a road/camping trip way out in the middle of nowhere. They end up in a tiny town full of redneck white trash, all of whom would be
unfuckable pretty hard to look at even if they did have proper hygiene (they do not). Guess what? There’s a brutal killer laying in wait! Yep, he’s big and fat and wears a weird mask.
“You will scream your head off.” Or until your testicles rupture.
No matter how tempting it is to see just for the gore, DO NOT DO THIS. You know what you can do instead, that’ll only take up a few minutes of your time? One of our favorite sites ever, Movie Censorship.com (we’ve raved about it before) documents differences between R and Unrated/Uncut/”Director’s Cut” versions of movies, though they will also sometimes compare versions from other countries (those are usually heavily censored). This site is useful for so many things, and has saved me from wasted time and money*. For instance, before I discovered the site, I would see an R-Rated version of a mediocre horror movie, then usually give in to temptation and later rent the Unrated/Director’s Cut version to see the stuff too gory (sometimes also advertised as “the version too frightening for theaters”) that had to be cut. If it’s a movie I already loved released unrated, say the remake of Dawn of the Dead or The Grudge (2004 US version), I just buy it. Most of the time I will end up feeling vaguely ashamed of myself. At least 75% of the time the stuff probably could have been in the R-version, and it turns out to be maybe 10 seconds tops that was cut. But, with this awesome site, they put up screencaps of the gore. Very thorough, high-quality ones. The only way the site could be improved on is if they showed the actual cut footage as comparison, and I’d even pay some modest membership fee if they did it. However, everything is documented and described. So I am going to do something you will thank me for later: here is the link that compares the cut and uncut versions of Carver. Sample screen shots of what you cannot see unless you were to watch the Unrated version (not that either version is worth wasting time on), which I made as small as possible in case you prefer not to suddenly see a screen shot of something disgusting, or you are eating while you browse Horror Boom (click to enlarge-do NOT click if you don’t want to see something horrible happening).
There’s plenty more where that came from on the link I gave you. There, now you have no reason to watch this movie. I sat through the unrated version, for the excuses I gave above. What’s wrong with it? It’s torture porn. Here’s a tip on how you know if a movie is truly torture porn (which I define as a very flimsy narrative, characters, and acting built around scenes of torture just to prop the sick scenes up): if someone tells you not to bother with anything but the unrated version, because otherwise it will be boring without all the sadistic scenes. The Neighbor and Human Centipede 2 are good examples of this. Everything in Carver is just put there to as a flimsy frame to surround the torture porn. This movie is not scary in any way. At no point did I even feel the slightest hint of tension or suspense. The first half-hour is just filler to push it to a feature-length film. The characters are one-dimensional idiots. The entire movie just slogs clumsily forward, the characters (at least the men–they women are mainly there to run around in their underwear, look hot, and be subjected to horrible bloody ordeals, like involuntarily starring in a snuff movie) do such stupid things you feel no sympathy for them. Yeah, I know this is a staple of slasher/torture porn movies; at least one person, usually more, makes such a cretinous decision that you can’t wait for them to get decapitated. SOMEONE should not act like a total idiot, however, and you should care a tiny bit about at least one character, so that you are on the side of the victims and have at least a sliver of investment in whether they will manage to live through the movie.
Is it possible for a viewer to really enjoy a movie (especially a scary one) when you can predict… oh… EVERYTHING that is going to happen? I’m not even going to bother with a spoiler alert here, because none of these things are a shock and trust me, the movie is already spoiled rotten. My inner monologue while watching went like this: Oh, I bet that guy is in on the whole thing. (guy turns out to be in on the whole thing). I bet these old movie reels contain snuff movies (movie reels contain snuff movies). That guy’s genitals are going to be disgustingly mutilated (guy’s genitals get mutilated). Even with an ice pick buried in his eye socket, the killer is going to act like it’s just a flea bite or something and not be slowed down at all (killer is not slowed down at all). You idiot, the guy who has to be in on it is in the other room, and he’s going to come up behind you and cut your throat while you sit there like a dumbass. (guy gets throat cut). She’s going to think the guy suddenly running out in front of her wearing the mask is the killer, but it will turn out he’s one of her friends in the group that was tortured but not killed, so she kills the wrong guy (Guess what happens).
Oh, and there’s a claim that the movie was based on actual events, which is a pack of lies. How would anyone know the true event occurred when every person who could tell someone their true story is dead, and the killers are never caught? Horror movies say this a lot now, but this time it’s just insulting our intelligence. Avoid this movie; it gives low-budget horror, practical effects, and the old fiddle-tune “Turkey in the Straw” a bad name.
2. Dark Mountain (2014).
The reason I picked this to watch and sit through this (other than being able to watch it on Netflix for free) is that I could have sworn Dread Central gave it a good review and said it had some really good, intense moments and well-written characters. We went back to DC and could find no such review, other than one honest one telling us we’d already seen the same found-footage movie ten times already, and done better than this one (still thought they went too easy on it ) What is weird is I even remember the DVD cover and making a mental note to look for it later. That review must have been on another site, or possibly someone inserted the wrong title and cover art (we recall, the review described the plot being driven by a horrible disease of some kind that the characters are trying to fight in an isolated space, which doesn’t resemble anything in Dark Mountain’s narrative) because boy did we get it wrong.
Never a dull moment on Dark Mountain (2014)!
They don’t just rip off Blair Witch, they also rip off Atrocious and Yellow Brick Road, among others. I wasn’t especially impressed with those latter two, but I’d sure as hell gladly watch them again if I could have skipped Dark Mountain. Everything that makes people strongly dislike found-footage is there: people running around for what seems like half the running time with a flashlight and the camera’s night vision on so that all we can see is a blur, tearful confessions/good-byes to loved ones given by the one female character to the camera, characters making such idiotic, unrealistic decisions that you want to see them die a violent death rather than root for them, and one of the things that will make a terrible found footage movie even worse: adding a soundtrack. Inserting a ‘stinger’ for what is supposed to be a jump scare, serving only to remind you of better found-footage flicks that didn’t need any damned stingers to make you hit the ceiling. Also, if we see one more fucking found-footage movie (other than [REC]) that ends with the last surviving character terrified and crawl-dragging themselves slowly towards the dropped camera, then being yanked out of frame suddenly just as they are inches away from it…
3. Bad Kids Go To Hell (2012).
Oh yeah, let’s spend 90 minutes getting to know THESE characters.
Seriously, we tried to like this movie. We really did. Hey, it had a fun title. We even read the graphic novel over a year before we saw the movie, and that didn’t really live up to the hype, not to mention the movie got a below-average rating on Netflix AND IMDB. Strangely, Variety loved it and said it was made for midnight screenings; I no longer trust the reviewer. BKGTH was another one that was free, plus we were between new releases at the time (if you have seen any of the films listed, you’ll understand why I start all these reviews more or less apologetically justifying why I sat through it). You know they used some tag close to “It’s Breakfast Club meets Scream!” in the pitch. “We even got Judd Nelson in the cast, how meta is that?” They are actually making a sequel titled Bad Kids Go 2 Hell. See what they did there? Poor Gina Gershon, who deserves better, is in it. Anyway, it’s not that I’m mad at BKGTH, I’m disappointed in it. During the final act, they lay on twist after twist, after twist, but none of them are fun and instead they just seem forced. Really, don’t bother unless it is your favorite horror comic in the world (though you could do much, much better). It should have been fun, but it just didn’t work.
4. Evil Things (2009)
Oh, did I say Dark Mountain was bad? Well, next to Evil Things it looks like Grave Encounters. For one thing, the acting in Dark Mountain could have been worse. I cannot think of any way to justify my reason for watching this movie, other than starting to run low on fresh ones. I did read some reviews, but if I’d really done my homework I would never have touched this boring thing. This whole movie was stupid from start to finish. The audience will figure out what is really going on much faster than the characters pick up on it. Some kids, none of whom are likeable, go to drive out into the middle of the woods to have a 21st birthday party for one of them up at a rich relative’s cabin. Actually money did not look like an issue for any of them, but it is a problem when you already don’t like the characters, then find out they never have to worry about money. The running time is clearly padded. It was one of those found-footage movies with a short running time, which can work well (especially if there’s a limited narrative and a low budget). For what seems like the first half-hour, the kids drive up there in what I think was bad weather (I am NOT watching this one again to get a couple little details right). A van ominously follows them most of the way. Rather than, I don’t know, pull over and let it pass, pull into a roadside diner or gas station and get the license plate or do anything you would if it was really concerning you, they just keep going, with someone occasionally remarking on the van, but no big deal to them. They get to the luxurious cabin and PAR-TAY! Of course this includes the need to DOCU-MENT! EVERYTHING! Whoooo! About 50 minutes into the running time, they start getting nervous. Part of this is caused by the (landline) telephone ringing; when one of them answers it, whoever is on the other end terrorizes them with complete silence. I know I almost have a heart attack from sheer fright every time this happens –no wait, I don’t stay on the line for more than two seconds at the most if I say hello more than once and get dead air.
Wow, I sure hope nothing bad happens to these characters.
Much, much later, they get creeped out when they pick up their camera or iPhone or whatever they were recording on, and see that someone filmed them on their own camera. By now, I think we’ve all seen the “creepy person purposely leaves footage on camera that belongs to the person documenting it in night vision while they sleep, then leaves it where they can see it to freak them out” gag. It is not scary anymore. In another of the movies on the “31 movies in 31 days” list, The Houses That October Built, it almost brings the movie to a halt– we’re that sick of it by now. Just in case anyone had any investment whatsoever in the plotline during the last half-hour, they insert a soundtrack, which is when the movie went from bad to terrible. The filmmakers could probably sense there was no tension or scares whatsoever, got desperate, and broke one of the rules of a found-footage movie (this is also a big part of why I didn’t enjoy The Last Exorcism). So the kids freak out, some start to panic, none of them can get a cell phone signal (surprise surprise), and they get killed. The final scene- which is where, in a found footage movie things should go completely crazy, you get the feeling anything could happen, and scare the hell out of you–emphasis on should– shows the actress who passes for the ‘final girl’ nervously groping around in a pitch-black room while the killer films her on night-vision. She eventually screams after the camera has slowly panned in on her for a while, end of movie… seen below on all the poster art.
Check out the brilliant tagline, sure to put asses in seats pronto.
Just kidding! After some abbreviated credits, we then get to what pissed me off enough to bump this garbage from “mediocre” to ” ‘Worst Of’ List”. For literally ten minutes, possibly more, we get to watch exciting footage from the van’s dash-cam. Nothing happens, other than seeing he was following the kids earlier and taping them, which we already knew, so it adds nothing except tedium. It’s not even remotely spooky. He just tools around, following cars at a safe distance, sometimes watching people get out of the car and go into a building of some sort, then driving around again. Can the team responsible for making this crap have any pride in their finished product AT ALL? If so, how? These are questions that will never be answered (along with any motive the killer had, or explanations for his actions, other than being bored or stalking and killing random kids is just kind of his thing, or any sort of clue who, he might be). I don’t care how big of a found-footage horror fan you are, avoid this one like the plague.
5. And speaking of plague, in fifth place, we have…
Most of the reviews I scanned were “mixed” rather than negative; I should have looked into it more. This one was also free and I was running out of movies, so there’s my excuse for sitting through it. I had the (mistaken) impression it was mediocre with maybe one or two good moments, rather than just plain shitty. The plot: a group of unlikable millennials (are you seeing a pattern here?) with names like “Chad” and “Kaitlin”** plan to have a New Year’s Eve bash at one of the character’s places, because their parents are out of town! I’m not sure if they’re high and drunk or just drunk (it wasn’t worth going back and re-watching the first 15 minutes of so over). The “party” consists of, I think, five idiots dancing around to techno/dance music (that is, by the way, some of the worst dogshit I’ve ever heard) while one, maybe two of their friends is on their way.; then they break out the brewski! At least one of them dances around like an idiot, waving two sparklers, and they speed the film up the cliché way that films do sometimes to indicate someone is on X (either that, or they were just being merciful to us by not showing it at normal, slower speed maybe). Anyway, via their iPhones or laptops, one of them discovers that a virus has very suddenly busted out, and is spreading more quickly than any virus in history. Worldwide. They’re not zombies, though. This virus causes you to bleed from your ears and nose, then hallucinate, then start getting hysterical and enraged enough to try to murder everyone around you. Oh, and if there’s no people handy for whatever reason, you’ll just pick some house to break into and attack whoever is inside. Black guy (the only one of the characters that seemed to have some common sense) gets infected/killed first, by the way. Thanks, movie, needed that cliché again. I should point out that the script is bad enough that we are given no reason to care about any of the characters, he was just NOT one of the ones that I actively hoped would meet a violent death due to being a selfish idiot.
Not only is the movie boring and has terrible acting (and a terrible script), but there is a reason it made this list rather that the “meh” list. The film-makers and very adamant that social media is evil and turns people into monsters. They act like their film is the first piece of fiction in history to use this metaphor, but it’s 2014, so they’re a little late to the party. We are slammed over the head with this message repeatedly. At one point, a laptop is even used to beat someone to death. Full disclosure: I am not thrilled with social media (especially when it actually cuts down on the amount of real, in-person social interaction that could be taking place instead; man, I’m glad I grew up in the 80s), but I also have a Facebook profile and I check my ‘feed’ once a day, so I can’t get all self-righteous. (Shameless self-promotion: if you haven’t “liked” Horror Boom on FB yet, we have a link to our page for you here!) But boy, do the writers of this movie! SPOILERS FOR THE MOVIE FOLLOW: during the last half hour of the movie, we find out that the virus was caused by something on a social media site that really doesn’t resemble, but is more or less supposed to be, FB. But this is no ordinary computer virus (see:tagline of the film)! The name of the site is The Social Redroom. The virus is called the RED ROOM virus. Get it? Kind of like that urban legend which is actually Japanese in origin, and is also mentioned frequently on creepypasta.com?*** I was just going to link to their page, but here is the You Tube video that explains it; the one I picked is twelve minutes long, but also the most thorough. I am inserting it because it will entertain you more in the short running time than all five of the movies we talk about in this piece put together. It’s also a little bit creepy, especially if you watch it after dark. If you only have a minute or two, or a very short attention span, you can get the gist by just watching the first few minutes (the long running time is due to what is supposed to be the actual footage/flash animation contained in the curse).
There are many, many problems with this movie, to the point where it would be faster to list the things they did right, but the only positive I can think of is some practical effects. OK, I have now run out of good points, so let’s move on to the elements that helped ruin the movie. At least pick a social network site name that is original (though I think they thought they were being clever linking it with that urban legend) and sounds like one that could be a household name and one of the most popular in the entire world. Yeah, especially in 2014, all social networking sites put “Social” in the NAME OF THEIR SITE. What’s worse is that the filmmakers thought we might be too stupid to make the connection that “Redroom” was a social media site, because having the title of the movie be ANTI-SOCIAL wasn’t a big enough hint for our stupid asses.
(EVEN MORE SPOILERS FOR THE MOVIE ANTISOCIAL, WHICH YOU SHOULDN’T REALLY BOTHER WITH IN THE FIRST PLACE, BEGINNING NOW).
Speaking of stupid, here is the explanation for the virus by someone who worked at “Social Redroom”: the people who owner the site decided to insert subliminal messages on it that would make users “check in” more frequently for status updates, etc. and give the site more hits, so they could make more money from advertisers. Only something went horribly wrong with the latest update, causing an actual worm-like tumor to very quickly form in the heads of those who looked at the site. Never mind the fact that this is physically impossible, by this time your head will be hurting too, just for different reasons. The tumor grows in the frontal lobe, ridiculously quickly, causing the hallucinations, bleeding from the ears, and homicidal behavior. Even if you manage to survive this, your head (partially) explodes, killing you. If this sounds interesting, I have explained it better than the actual script does. Another video goes up later (good thing both of these clips go viral!) explaining a possible cure, one that is pretty crude. Since the virus is an actual organism at least the size of a very large earthworm, someone can drill a hole in your skull and then grab it with tweezers (or a small box cutter, as one very desperate character does), then pull it out. Any intrigue this could generate for the viewer is dampened by the fact that no-one even thinks about disinfecting the drill or any of the tools that are going to touch their brains before jumping in and using them. OK, if they don’t have anything handy containing alcohol (which they do), they could at least wipe it off with a relatively clean piece of cloth first, but no.
One of the
few two positive things the movie had going for it was that the infected people did not actually turn into zombies when infected with the virus. They don’t bite and spread the infection that way, then the people don’t get up and trying to eat the living. It would have been the lazier way to go. However, a “twist” in the final minutes of the film shows news outlets reporting that those whose heads have exploded are now getting up and walking around again, rising from the dead. So, one of the two things the movie contained that would go on the “pro” list instead of the length “con” column is dispatched swiftly by the fact that in the end, it is turned into a zombie apocalypse after all. Please skip this one. They only want to express their hatred of social media–which could even have been interesting and worked with the right script– but just end up insulting the viewer’s intelligence.
Okay, now that the negative stuff is out of the way, you can look forward to the final part, where we name the ten best movies in the list of 31 horror movies in 30 days. We can even recommend some of the movies to you, which will be a nice switch after strongly warning you off five of them.
*It’s not just horror, either. If you want to see what you missed in the unrated version of, say, Get Him to the Greek, or what is in an “Extended Director’s Cut” of anything, even if it wasn’t cut for rating reasons but for time, it can help you our with that, too. Many foreign movies make it almost impossible for you to locate and see the extended version if you’re in the US, so it can save you money. They’ll even tell you lines that are missing. I cannot recommend Movie-Censorship.com enough… though I should warn you they do advertise some pretty sleazy exploitation movies that you can buy in Amazon, including some disturbing stuff from Japan. Fine with me, they have to make money somehow, but if you are offended by that kind of box art, just don’t look too carefully at the ads on the sidebars, etc. They’re never in-your-face, but I thought I would bring it up just in case. The site is frequently NSFW.
**I know some people who are named Kaitlin that are fine people, so nothing personal.
***”Red Room” is also the name of a boring, nasty Japanese straight-to-video torture porn flick with really, really terrible production values (don’t even think about renting it–or the sequel– trust me).