The year has been blessed with great horror films, from Tony Muschietti’s IT to M. Night Shyamalan’s Split, but there have also been a fair few flops. This list looks at those films which haven’t matched our expectations in 2017, whether it be because they continued to muddy the mythology of a beloved franchise or because they simply weren’t scary.
1. Alien: Covenant
Alien: Covenant was an okay film – the cinematography was fine and as a throwaway horror it does its job by holding your attention for 90 minutes. However, the Alien franchise deserves better than a mediocre monster movie which makes its antagonist less threatening.
Not only did Covenant attempt and fail to recreate the badass persona of Ellen Ripley, it also confused the origin of the xenomorph and fell into the same trap as Prometheus by being too wrapped up in its own lore.
It isn’t a terrible movie in and of itself, but fans rightly expected more given that Ridley Scott returned to direct, and unfortunately it’s another film which makes the franchise weaker as a whole.
2. A Cure for Wellness
A Cure for Wellness is a psychological horror film which was written and directed by Gore Verbinski, the mastermind behind the fantastic American remake of Ringu in 2002. The trailer for this film was magnificent, giving viewers a feel for the movie’s tone without revealing too much in terms of plot.
Sadly, the fact that the story remained relatively under wraps prior to its release tricked audiences into believing that it would be an intriguing and entertaining watch. The end result was quite the opposite, with any mystery evoked by the trailer suddenly evaporating as characters failed to use basic common sense and Verbinski seemed more interested in eels than a coherent narrative.
Again it isn’t one of the worst horror films of the year – those are likely found in the bargain bin rather than at the cinema – but it was a massive let down given the calibre of the talent involved.
3. The Belko Experiment
The Belko Experiment wasn’t exactly excessively marketed upon its UK release in April but it still managed to disappoint those of us who paid the price of a ticket.
Whilst there are redeeming factors and some entertainingly exaggerated performances within its 88-minute runtime, the main feeling once you’ve left the theatre is one of frustration because it could’ve been much more. A fight to the death in an office environment for the purpose of scientific discovery is the kind of premise that inspires enthusiasm, so when the execution is as bland as it is here it’s truly infuriating.
A common theme of this article is that the films which are mentioned aren’t actually bad, and that statement is true of The Belko Experiment, but once you’ve read the synopsis you expect more than the movie is able to offer.
4. Little Evil
Little Evil is a Netflix original horror film which leans towards comedy rather than jump scares. This in itself isn’t a criticism and audiences shouldn’t be surprised by the movie’s tone, however, the execution leaves a lot to be desired.
Oftentimes the jokes fall flat and the dynamic between step-father and step-son is confusing rather than funny – a damning flaw considering the fact that the entire movie relies on the ups and downs of this relationship.
The fact that Evangeline Lilly and Adam Scott were cast as the film’s two leads and the marketing implied that the film would parody The Omen suggested that Little Evil would be a fun and diverting experience. Alas, this was not the case, making its subsequent lack of quality all the more exasperating.
5. Flatliners (2017)
Flatliners had a great trailer. Hinting at characters with rich backstories and a darker tone than the 1990 original of the same name, it looked as though it could be a brilliant horror movie.
However, any expectations for Flatliners were quickly tempered as the film started slowly and got worse as it progressed. The entire premise of the movie relied on flawed logic and the rules of flatlining were led by the narrative rather than the other way around, leading to an underwhelming and frankly annoying experience.
The performances aren’t terrible – Ellen Page and Nina Dobrev do well despite the lacklustre material that they’re given – but there’s a noticeable imbalance between the quality of the film’s trailer and the end product.
Jigsaw is a movie which shouldn’t have been made. Picking up years after John Kramer’s demise, Jigsaw takes the score, gore and core concept of the franchise and makes each element incredibly boring.
The traps are lacking in invention and the result of violence is almost always portrayed using CGI, meaning that nothing about the movie is scary. The gore is completely ineffective and the experience as a whole is neither fun to watch nor visually disturbing.
The franchise has been getting worse for quite a while now, but this could’ve been a new start given the fact that it is set so long after the events of the series to date. Unfortunately, that isn’t the case which, when you consider how entertaining Saw was, is extremely regrettable.
Rings is a terrible movie. Technically the third film in the American Ring franchise, Francisco Javier Gutiérrez’s continuation of the series attempted to take Samara’s murderous exploits into the modern age.
This, in concept, is a lovely idea. Watching millennials view the video tape on their smartphones would’ve been entertaining – if a little silly – and the opportunity was there to tell an imaginative story. Sadly, this movie was devoid of creativity or even the slightest sense of self-awareness and rather than capitalising on the success of the original it damaged its credibility.
In view of the fact that The Ring is one of the best horror films of the millennium, the fact that the gap in quality between Rings and the movie which bore it is so massive makes it the biggest horror movie let-down of 2017.