We certainly had some horror greats this year (see the full list here), but no year is without its letdowns. However, let’s be clear and point out that these films are the most disappointing of the year, rather than the worst. We’re not saying that these are downright terrible, rather they missed the mark on great potential, or failed to live up to expectations.
(Click on the title for our full review of that movie)
5. It: Chapter 2
This highly anticipated sequel may have poked fun at its own ending via meta humor, but sadly it wasn’t enough to make up for the overall lack of payoff. While it followed the book fairly well, it simply couldn’t live up the massive hype and buildup that began with Chapter 1.
However, that has more to do with King’s novel than just this film, and perhaps it’s not fair to criticize it for the faults of its source material. To its credit, the casting was stellar, but even this cadre of brilliant actors couldn’t save a weak, and frankly cheesy ending.
Chalk this up to a fascinating premise with a subpar delivery. Death looms over us all, and aside from the Final Destination series, we rarely see death itself as the direct antagonist. Countdown brought this idea into the modern age with an app that tells you how long you have to live, but what could have been a great film is wasted.
Its potential is cast aside by campy writing/acting that isn’t quality enough to be good, but isn’t cheesy enough for “so bad it’s funny” territory. The comic relief priest/exorcist has his moments, but for most of the runtime, he feels like he’s in a satirical horror/comedy, while everyone else is playing it seriously (and failing at it).
3. Pet Sematary
This may be the second Stephen King adaptation on this list, but don’t feel bad. Between Doctor Sleep, Castle Rock, and Mr. Mercedes, his adaptations are still doing well.
To its credit, this version of Pet Sematary sought to alter one major detail in the plot (no spoilers, but even the trailer gave it away). So many remakes and reboots simply mimic the original, but here they tried something new and it deserves recognition.
That being said, not everything added up from a narrative perspective. It took certain leaps and bounds with plot and characters that it never would have done, had it not been a remake.
It’s as if, the filmmakers counted on us having seen the original and felt that much could be left unsaid, knowing we would fill in the blanks. But then, it doesn’t make as much sense on its own.
2. The Dead Don’t Die
Known for his music videos and arthouse indie films, it was a bit of a surprise to see Jim Jarmusch dabble in the horror genre. In all honesty, The Dead Don’t Die is a brilliant, witty, and well written/acted film. Jarmusch also broke the fourth wall and infused an interesting political commentary (but done so subtly, which will be important later).
For all its praise however, there is a reason it’s number 2 on this list. The simple fact is, this is the most well-made film of these 5, but it missed the mark quite a bit when everything didn’t quite amount to much at the end.
Story and character beats seemingly go nowhere, and then it just sort of ends, as if the film didn’t know what else to do. And it was all the more disappointing simply because it was such a great film, that had amazing potential.
1. Black Christmas
Much like The Dead Don’t Die, Black Christmas clearly has a social/political commentary that it wishes to make. Unlike the former, which uses subtlety and the zombies as a metaphor, the latter beats its message over the audience’s head without cessation.
Jim Jarmusch’s zombie satire may not have known how to end, but at least it trusted the viewer to infer certain things and walk away with their own unique perspective. Black Christmas fears that the viewer won’t understand, unless the message is spoon-fed. And what’s all the more frustrating is just how much could have been done with this premise.
Remakes of beloved classics are always going to be met with scrutiny, but writer/director Sophia Takal’s goal to update the college slasher in the #MeToo era is actually a very fascinating idea.
Some argue that slashers have always been empowering for women, given that they are usually the protagonists who prevail over the killer, while others feel that the rampant sex scenes and female nudity only further objectified women.
This is just one of the many ideas that the new Black Christmas could have explored, all while being self-aware, but instead to doubles down on its heavy-handed approach, which in turn will only galvanize true misogynists in their distaste of it. The film had something real to say, but sadly settled for being a PSA, rather than a cinematic exploration of relevant social issues.
Which of these movies do you really like? Were there any other major disappointments that we missed? Let us know in the comments below! For more reviews, rankings, and other fun horror content, follow Halloween Year-Round on Facebook and Twitter!