(Photo by Paramount Insurge/courtesy Everett Collection)
The Worst Horror Movies of All Time
We’re scraping the bottom of the cauldron for this one, freaky folks. Here lies a group of wretched movies with the lowest Tomatometers of all time – with a minimum of 20 reviews – now rising and shambling into our guide to the worst horror movies ever made.
No movie listed here achieved higher than 9% on the Tomatometer. As you might expect, the list features an inordinate number are remakes, the biggest offenders including The Fog, Jacob’s Ladder, Flatliners, and Martyrs. Same goes for sequels, as Jason, Jaws, the living dead, and an American werewolf make their appearances. And then there’s movies that will never even get a sniff of a chance for a sequel, like Sandra Bullock’s Premonition, the Daniel Craig clunker Dream House, or the eerily and aptly-titled The Disappointments Room.
Nothing but trouble coming up on in the worst, lowest-rated horror movies of all time!
Critics Consensus: It may feature such accomplished actors as Hilary Swank and Stephen Rea, but The Reaping also boasts the apropos tagline "What hath God wrought?" It's schlocky, spiritually shallow, and scare-free.
Synopsis: Katherine Morrissey (Hilary Swank), a former Christian missionary, lost her faith after the tragic deaths of her family. Now she... [More]
Critics Consensus:The Apparition fails to offer anything original, isn't particularly scary, and offers so little in the way of dramatic momentum that it's more likely to put you to sleep than thrill you.
Synopsis: Plagued by frightening occurrences in their home, Kelly (Ashley Greene) and Ben (Sebastian Stan) learn that a university's parapsychology experiment... [More]
Horror has a way of making an unlit hallway look like a trek through hell, inducing heart attacks though jumping cats, and transforming everyday tools like chainsaws and double-barrel shotguns into instruments of doom. The marketing and posters for Us suggests that Jordan Peele’s new horror flick will do for golden scissors what Get Out did for tea cups, which also happens to be one of selections for the 25 most iconic props from horror movie history! Read on to get your fill of creaky carriages, demonic dolls, and bloody blades.
Thor: Ragnarok only needed to get a 67% on the Tomatometer to improve upon The Dark World‘s score. Looks like all this franchise needed was some new zeal and New Zealand director Taika Waititi because Ragnarok is currently scoring way higher than that, which inspires this week’s gallery of 24 most improved movie sequels by Tomatometer!
Hey, kids! Ya like superheroes? Toys? Then has Hollywood got your taste quadrant covered with this week’s release of Max Steel, based on the action figure line first introduced by Mattel in 1997. Youth-focused cross-media filmmaking has been a thing since the early 1980s, and in this week’s gallery we cover every theatrical movie based on toys, cards, and board games that got a Tomatometer!
The box office looked very similar to last weekend despite three new films opening in wide release, two of them with big name stars who suffered some of the worst openings of their careers.
The top three films all stayed in the same spot as last weekend. On a weekend where there were new films starring Bradley Cooper and Sandra Bullock, the top three films were holdovers. Staying in first place for the second straight weekend, and the fourth time in five weekends, was the sci-fi extravaganza The Martian which dipped a slim 27.5 percent (best in the top 10) to an estimated $11.4 million, bringing its total to $182.8 million. Second place belonged to Goosebumps which fell 34 percent in its third weekend to an estimated $10.2 million bringing its cume up to $57 million. In third place was the Steven Spielberg/Tom Hanks collaboration, Bridge of Spies which slipped only 29 percent to $8 million, according to estimates, bringing its total to $45 million. Another holdover landed in fourth place, the Sony kids flick Hotel Transylvania 2 which made an estimated $5.8 million bringing its total to date up to $156 million.
Finally in fifth place we have the first of our disappointing openings of the weekend, Bradley Cooper’s Burnt which opened to an estimated $5 million from a wide 3,003 theaters for a per screen average of only $1,678. Cooper’s last film, Aloha opened in May to $9.6 million which puts him on a two-game losing streak. A B- CinemaScore does not bode well for the future. Big stars in prestige films don’t really seem to be doing well so far this season.
Did you think Burnt’s opening weekend was bad? How about the latest from Academy Award winner Sandra Bullock? Her last two live-action films opened to $55.8 million (Gravity in 2013) and $39.1 million (The Heat, also in 2013). This weekend, however, Our Brand Is Crisis opened to an estimated $3.4 million from 2,202 theaters for a per screen average of $1,558. Do you know the last time a Sandra Bullock filmed opened on over 1,000 screens and made less than $3.4 million? How about, never. This is just a pure flop. Once again, a prestige pic from a big star failed to connect with audiences. And a C+ CinemaScore means this one will be hitting On Demand pretty soon.
Rounding out the top 10 were Crimson Peak with an estimated $3.1 million bringing its total up to $27.7 million, and Steve Jobs which fell off a cliff dropping 64 percent to an estimated $2.6 million, bringing its cume up to a mediocre $14.5 million.
Oh, and remember how in the first paragraph I said there were three films that opened wide this weekend? You have to go all the way down to number 12 to find the third one. Paramount’s Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse bottomed out with a pitiful $1.77 million opening, according to estimates, with a per screen average of only $1,173. But hey, at least this one didn’t have big stars in it.
The top ten films grossed an estimated $57.8 million which was down 22.7 percent from last year when Ouija held on to the top spot with $10.7 million; and off a remarkable 50 percent from 2013 when Ender’s Game debuted in the top spot with $27 million.
Compared to projections, Our Brand is Crisis, Burnt and Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse all came in below Gitesh’s respective forecasts of $7 million, $7 million and $5 million.
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This weekend North American audiences were not impressed with the many new titles that Hollywood had to offer. Five films opened or expanded into nationwide release and all underperformed, a couple even had embarrassingly dismal numbers. Moviegoers stuck to well-liked holdover films which all carried good reviews and enjoyed solid holds. The top three films stayed the same as last weekend, though some shuffling occurred, and no film in wide release managed to reach a $5,000 average.
The Martian was in control once again as Matt Damon’s runaway hit eased just 25 percent in its fourth frame to gross an estimated $15.9M finishing in first place by a slim margin. Fox’s blockbuster has grossed a stellar $166.4M and is on its way to breaking $200M domestic joining Gravity to become the only October releases to ever surpass that mark.
Last week’s top draw Goosebumps fell to second place but still posted a good hold as Halloween approaches. The Sony adventure comedy took in an estimated $15.5M, down 34%, for a new cume of $43.7M. A final in the $80M neighborhood may occur for the $58M production.
Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks enjoyed a terrific sophomore hold for their latest venture Bridge of Spies which eased only 26 percent to an estimated $11.4M holding steady in the bronze medal position. The Disney release has one more week before Spectre arrives distracting much of its target audience of mature adults. A final in the neighborhood of $70M may result which would still be the lowest ever for Spielberg among movies playing in 2,000+ theaters.
Despite having 96 million Facebook likes, Vin Diesel’s social media promotional machine did little to drive in actual sales for his latest film The Last Witch Hunter which opened in fourth with an estimated $10.8M from 3,082 theaters for a mild $3,512 average. The Lionsgate action-horror title targeted the actor’s large fan base but also showed that outside of the Fast & Furious franchise, his box office pull is questionable. The PG-13 film earned negative reviews and aimed for young men, a demo that doesn’t come out to the multiplex as much anymore, especially for films not associated with an exciting brand. International prospects will be much better.
Hotel Transylvania 2 matched its 2012 predecessor’s total gross this weekend with an estimated $9M in its fifth weekend. Off only 29%, the Adam Sandler-led toon has banked $148.3M – just like part 1 – and may have another $25M or so still to come for Sony.
A once-powerful fright franchise showed its age as Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension, the sixth installment in the series, debuted in sixth place with an estimated $8.2M from a more limited 1,656 locations for a moderate $4,952 average. The first four Paranormal flicks all reached number one in October from 2009 to 2012 while the last pic The Marked Ones, more spinoff than sequel, bowed in second place in January 2014.
Paramount is planning a quicker VOD release than usual for the R-rated Ghost so some theater circuits opted not to play the scary film. Given the quick burn of the last few installments, this one (the first offered in 3D) may end its theatrical run with only about $15M which is about how much it cost to produce. The franchise has had limited activity over the past three years which is an eternity in the horror world and most fan interest in the U.S. has now evaporated. Overseas this weekend, Ghost opened to $18M from 33 markets including several number one debuts in Latin America.
Another new film underperforming was Steve Jobs which went nationwide after two strong weeks of limited play. The acclaimed Universal release grossed an estimated $7.3M from 2,493 sites for a weak $2,915 average. Great reviews and Oscar buzz only went so far with a nationwide audience. With low starpower, finite interest in the Apple guru, and competition for adults from many other choices it became a tough sell to mainstream moviegoers. Cume is $10M and finishing with $30M will be difficult.
Horror flick Crimson Peak fell 58 percent to an estimated $5.6M in its sophomore frame and has scared up $22.5M for Universal. Warner Bros. enjoyed another good frame for The Intern which slipped 29 percent to an estimated $3.9M raising the cume to $64.7M with the global gross now up to a solid $155.8M. Drug drama Sicario rounded out the top ten with an estimated $3M, down 35%, for a $39.4M sum for Lionsgate.
Outside of the top ten, two new releases opening in over 2,000 theaters each crashed and burned generating some of the worst results of all-time for wide debuts. The Bill Murray pic Rock The Kasbah bowed to an estimated $1.5M from 2,012 locations for a pathetic $750 average for Open Road. Meanwhile, Universal’s Jem and the Holograms did worse with an estimated $1.3M from 2,413 sites for a disastrous $547 average. Critics and paying audiences gave thumbs in a downward direction to each one.
Among awards hopefuls, Room expanded from four to 23 locations and grossed an estimated $254,000 for a solid $11,043 average for A24. Focus opened its women’s rights drama Suffragettein four houses and took in an estimated $77,000 for a decent $19,250 average from platform play. It expands to 26 theaters next weekend in a roll-out similar to Room‘s.
The top ten films grossed an estimated $90.4M which was down 7 percent from last year when Ouija opened at number one with $19.9M; and off 3 percent from 2013 when Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpadebuted in the top spot with $32.1M.
Get earlier box office updates and analysis by following BoxOfficeGuru.com on Twitter.
The biggest home video release this week is a surprisingly satisfying action flick starring Keanu Reeves, but outside of that, most of the big releases received pretty poor reviews. That said, the smaller films on this week’s list are the real highlights, with three acclaimed Certified Fresh picks and another trio of highly rated films. Read on for details:
John Wick is about as pure a revenge flick as you’re going to get, and critics were quite pleased with that. The story is simple: Keanu Reeves plays the titular former mob hitman, who’s mourning the death of his wife when the son of a local kingpin breaks into his home, kills his new puppy, and steals his car. This is the last straw for Wick, and he unleashes a most brutal temper tantrum upon anyone foolish enough to stand between him and the puppy-killing car thief. Directed by longtime stuntmen Chad Stahelski and David Leitch, John Wick is a stylish flurry of point blank shots to the face and brooding Keanu Reeves grimaces, and for most critics, the combination was a match made in heaven. Toss in a bit of the much talked-about “world-building” and a colorful cast of side characters, and you have the makings of an action franchise. At 83 percent on the Tomatometer, John Wick surprised a lot of folks and even took home the Golden Tomato Award in the Action/Adventure category.
Though ostensibly not part of Universal’s plan to reboot all of their classic monsters in a shared universe (kind of like The Avengers of horror), Dracula Untold doesn’t bode well for the studio’s future efforts in the genre. Untold purports to tell the “origin story” of the famous literary bloodsucker, in which Vlad the Impaler (Luke Evans), the prince of Transylvania, enters into a blood pact with a vampire to receive the power necessary to turn back a Turkish invasion and save his son. Critics didn’t buy it, for the most part; while the visuals were sometimes impressive, they also tended toward bad video game imagery, and the narrative lacked both the edge and the necessary dramatic heft to justify its epic scope. At 22 percent on the Tomatometer, Dracula Untold is a poor attempt to put a fresh spin on a familiar tale.
As long as you’ve got a working knowledge of horror movie mechanics, a decent cinematographer, and a few million dollars to spare, you stand a chance at making a tidy profit, regardless of what the critics say. At least, that was the case for last year’s Ouija, which was produced for about $5 million and earned a mere 7 percent on the Tomatometer but went on to gross over $95 million at the box office. This PG-13 tale of terror revolves around a group of young friends who use a Ouija board to make contact with a malicious spirit; as the participants of the original séance begin dropping one by one, the remaining survivors struggle to identify the spectre and figure out a way to defeat it. Critics found the film egregiously derivative of better movies, filled with telegraphed jump scares and bland storytelling, even if it did sport a nice professional sheen. This is probably the kind of fluff that teen horror novices might eagerly devour and quickly forget, but more discerning adults will find little in the way of a real scare here.
Don’t look now, but they’ve gone and made another Nicholas Sparks adaptation, and following recent tradition, it did not perform well with critics. At all. This would-be tearjerker stars James Marsden and Michelle Monaghan as star-crossed teenage lovers Dawson and Amanda, who are reunited after 20 years apart when a mutual friend passes away. Between flashbacks to their past relationship, the pair rekindle their romance, only to discover it’s not so easy to shake off the past and move forward. By now, most folks know where they stand with Sparks’s weepy formula, and critics agree that if you’re a fan, you’re in for more of the same, and you’ll likely be pretty satisfied with the final product. If you’re anyone else, though, you probably already know you’re going to avoid this like a snotty handkerchief, so the 8 percent Tomatometer score is somewhat irrelevant.
Also available this week:
Nas: Time Is Illmatic (100 percent), a documentary about the prolific and influential hip-hop artist and the creation of his seminal debut album.
Starred Up (99 percent), starring Jack O’Connell and Ben Mendelsohn in a Certified Fresh drama about a violent 19-year-old inmate who is transferred to the same prison as his estranged father.
The Overnighters (98 percent), a Certified Fresh documentary focusing on the rush to find jobs during the North Dakota oil boom and the hardships experienced by prospective workers there.
Dear White People (92 percent), a Certified Fresh satire of race politics about a mixed-race writer and radio show host at a mostly white university who causes a stir when she becomes the head of the all black house on campus.
The Retrieval (34 percent), a Civil War-set drama about a 13-year-old boy working with white bounty hunters who unexpectedly finds himself on the run with a runaway slave after he’s been sent to lure him back to the South.
ABCs of Death 2 (75 percent), the follow-up omnibus film featuring 26 horror segments — one for each letter of the alphabet — helmed by 26 different directors.
Halloween madness put a curse on the North American box office which sunk to a seven-week low with all wide releases failing to reach $11M for the weekend or a $4,000 average. Two films tied for the number one spot in a race that was too close to call with weekend estimates so final numbers to be reported on Monday will tell which movie takes the crown – newcomer Nightcrawler or horror holdover Ouija. Either way, it will be an unimpressive victory.
Jake Gyllenhaal attracted a mediocre debut for his critically acclaimed crime journalism thriller Nightcrawler which opened to an estimated $10.9M from 2,766 theaters for a mild $3,944 average. The R-rated pic won raves from reviewers, however what film critics love often differs from what regular moviegoers want to pay to see. The Open Road release earned a lackluster B- grade from CinemaScore so ticket buyers were not too impressed. But for Gyllenhaal, Nightcrawler‘s opening weekend was in the same range as some of his other films where he is the only major commercial selling point. They generally only open in the $10-15M range.
Last weekend’s top film – the supernatural thriller Ouija – was the other movie making a run for the top spot with an estimated $10.9M as well, according to its distributor Universal. The studio is projecting a Saturday-to-Sunday decline of 50% compared to the 35% Open Road estimated for Nightcrawler so Ouija stands a good chance of edging out a repeat at number one. Compared to what other distributors are guessing for their Sunday drops, Nightcrawler‘s is conservative while Ouija‘s is aggressive. Universal’s spookfest, which ranked number one on both Friday and Saturday, is now up to $35M and counting.
Many films held up well this weekend, especially kidpics, but it was the calm before the storm. On Friday, the holiday movie season kicks off with a potent double feature of Christopher Nolan’s sci-fi drama Interstellar and the Disney toon Big Hero 6 based on the Marvel character. Together, the tentpoles are expected to pull in over $100M in ticket sales next weekend and shove aside fall leftovers.
With hardly any competition from new films, Brad Pitt’s tank film Fury dropped 32% to an estimated $9.1M in its third weekend. Sony has grossed $60.4M so far. The missing-wife thriller Gone Girl became director David Fincher’s highest grossing film ever and landed in fourth place in its fifth weekend with an estimated $8.8M. Off a slender 20%, the Fox title has now amassed $136.6M and may end its domestic run in the $150-160M range.
Studio stablemate The Book of Life followed close behind with an estimated $8.3M, off just 17%, for a new total of $40.5M. Also holding up well, especially for a Keanu Reeves action film, was John Wick which dropped 44% to an estimated $8.1M. Lionsgate has taken in $27.6M to date and looks headed for a $45M domestic finish.
Audiences continued to flock to the hit indie comedy St. Vincent starring Bill Murray and Melissa McCarthy which virtually matched its gross from last weekend with an estimated $7.8M. The Weinstein Co. added 270 new locations boosting the theater count by 12% but the average of $3,038 was still solid dipping by only 11% from last weekend. That’s a terrific hold thanks mostly to encouraging word-of-mouth. Cume now sits at $19.5M.
Also showing much strength with moviegoers was Disney’s Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day which eased by a slim 10% to an estimated $6.5M for a sturdy $53.6M to date. The Judge followed with an estimated $3.4M, off 22%, giving Warner Bros. $39.6M so far. The monster movie Dracula Untold rounded out the Halloween weekend top ten with an estimated $2.9M, down 34%, putting Universal at $52.9M.
The Nicole Kidman thriller Before I Go To Sleep flopped instantly with a weak opening weekend estimate of only $2M from 1,935 locations for a flimsy $1,047 average. Clarius Entertainment saw mixed reviews plus could not compete in a crowded marketplace filled with better options for the target audience of mature adults. Kidman has not anchored a box office hit on her own in nearly a decade.
Lionsgate took a chance and re-released the horror hit Saw on Halloween day for its tenth anniversary, but failed to attract any business stumbling to the worst opening of 2014 for any film going out in 2,000+ theaters. The iconic torture porn flick attacked 2,063 locations but grossed a puny $650,000 for a horrendous $315 average. The brand is no longer very relevant and the film has been widely available on other platforms for years so there was nothing new that the theatrical re-release brought to the table. Sure the gorefest has already been made, but costs for marketing and new digital prints will not be recouped by this re-release. Most re-releases in recent years, including 3D upgrades, have struggled to make much of a dent at the box office.
In the specialty marketplace, only one film continues to make a lot of noise. Oscar hopeful Birdman expanded in its third round from 50 to 231 locations and grossed an estimated $2.5M for a strong $10,866 average. It was the best average for any film. With $5M in the bank and plenty more to come, the Fox Searchlight release is still growing and reaching new markets establishing itself as a major awards contender early in the kudos season. Next weekend will see it fly to nearly 450 theaters nationwide.
The top ten films grossed an estimated $76.6M which was down 34% from last year when Ender’s Game opened at number one with $27M; and down 36% from 2012 when Wreck-It Ralph debuted in the top spot with $49M. However, Halloween did not fall on either of those weekend periods.
This weekend, With Halloween approaching, young women powered the supernatural thriller Ouija to the top of the North American box office with a solid opening of an estimated $20M. Produced for under $5M, the PG-13 chiller based on the creepy game from Hasbro averaged an impressive $7,000 from 2,858 locations.
It’s the third horror film in four weeks to deliver strong results, but the first to hit number one. Annabelle and Dracula Untold both debuted in second place and the three films combined have grossed $147.8M to date putting the troubled horror genre in good shape during the all-important Halloween month. Studio research from Universal showed that an incredibly high 75% of the audience was under 25 while 61% was female. A lackluster C CinemaScore grade indicates that paying moviegoers were not too satisfied with their purchase and that declines common for this genre are to come.
Ouija‘s successful release follows a radical shift in the development of the project. Originally, Michael Bay’s production company which turned Hasbro’s Transformers property into a multi-billion-dollar franchise was planning a big-budget approach for Ouija. It was later reconceptualized under micro-budget horror king Jason Blum’s company as a low-cost, low-risk project aimed at spooking teens and young adults. The domestic gross should finish at eight or nine times the production cost.
For the first time in six years Keanu Reeves made it to the top two spots at the box office landing in second place with the opening of his new action thriller John Wick which debuted to an estimated $14.2M. Averaging a respectable $5,465 from 2,589 theaters including 347 IMAX screens, the brutally violent R-rated entry played mostly to adult men as expected. Studio research from Lionsgate showed that Wick skewed 60% male, and 77% over 25. IMAX screens accounted for $2.5M, or a very high 18% of the gross, and the CinemaScore grade was a decent B.
Reviews were very strong, but audience turnout was nothing too impressive. Football and the World Series provided distractions for this audience over the weekend. Reeves last hit number one with 2008’s The Day the Earth Stood Still with $30.5M. But his most recent studio effort — the big-budget 47 Ronin — flopped last Christmas with $14.2M in its first three days, the same as Wick. Since the actor’s signature Matrix trilogy ended 11 years ago, he has not had a single $100M+ domestic hit. Lionsgate acquired the film at no cost, however recouping marketing costs for a wide North American release will be no easy task.
Falling back to third place was the Brad Pitt tank drama Fury with an estimated $13M, off 45%. The decline would be moderate for most films, but for this particular pic it was slightly high given the Sony movie’s good buzz and older skew. Plus direct competition was not too furious this weekend. Second weekend declines for this month’s other star-driven mature-skewing films were 30% for Gone Girl and 40% for The Judge. Budgeted at $68M, Fury has grossed $46.1M so far and could be headed for a finish of about $75M.
Into its fourth weekend, Fox’s hit thriller Gone Girl enjoyed the lowest decline of any wide release slipping just 37% to an estimated $11.1M for a new cume of $124.1M. Studio stablemate The Book of Life collected $9.8M, off a reasonable 42% in its sophomore frame, for a total of $29.9M for the animated entry. A final in the $50-60M range seems likely.
The indie comedy St. Vincent starring Bill Murray and Melissa McCarthy expanded nationwide and came in at number six with an estimated $8.1M from 2,282 locations for a mild $3,531 average. Earning good reviews, the PG-13 film from The Weinstein Co. has grossed $9.2M to date.
Robert Downey Jr. dropped to ninth with The Judge which grossed an estimated $4.3M, down 45%, giving Warner Bros. $34.4M overall. Collecting the same weekend estimate was the horror entry Dracula Untold which stumbled 57% thanks to new fright competition. Universal is now sitting at $48.3M domestic and $166M worldwide.
Among notable specialty releases, Michael Keaton’s Birdman expanded from four to 50 theaters and grossed an estimated $1.4M for a strong $28,720 average following its monster platform debut in New York and Los Angeles last weekend. Fox Searchlight’s cume is now $2.1M and the distributor will widen again on Friday to the Top 60 markets with a total of nearly 250 locations with more to come in November. Birdman is currently on the shortlist of many industry insiders to earn an Oscar nomination for Best Picture.
On the documentary side, the Edward Snowden film Citizenfour debuted in five theaters this weekend grossing an estimated $125,000 for a solid $25,000 average. Earning sensational reviews, the Radius release platformed in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Washington D.C. this weekend and will expand on Friday to Boston, Philadelphia, Seattle, and Chicago. By Thanksgiving, the political doc expects to be playing nationwide.
The top ten films grossed an estimated $96.5M which was up 4% from last year when Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa opened at number one with $32.1M; and up 29% from 2012 when Argo returned to the top spot with $12.1M.
Ep. 069 – New Movies & TV plus Keanu Reeves, Mel Brooks & Sam Rockwell
This week the team kicks off the show with reviews for John Wick (and Grae shares and interview with star Keanu Reeves). Then they cover Ouija, 23 Blast, and Laggies. Ryan talks about new home video releases Snowpiercer, and Mad Men, and Grae share another interview, this time with Mel Brooks for the anniversary release of Young Frankenstein. Beki talks about critics’ reaction to the new Constantine TV series, and Matt takes the opportunity to rant about Toys R Us. The second half of the show features an extended interview with Lynn Shelton and Sam Rockwell, director and co-star of Laggies. And finally, you Grae shares how you can enter for a chance to win a John Wick prize pack!
He’s taken some lumps over the years, but when it comes right down to it, Keanu Reeves is one of our most dependable action stars. Time will tell if John Wick will join Speed and The Matrix in the action movie pantheon, but critics say this is a stylish, briskly-paced thriller with terrific fight scenes and some sly humor. Reeves stars as a retired hitman reeling from the death of his wife when mob-affiliated hoods break into his house and kill his dog. Soon, our hero is back in the game — and practically every gangster in town is in fear for his life. The pundits say the Certified FreshJohn Wick is the kind of muscular, full-throttle action flick that’s made with such skill and energy you’ll barely notice how thin the plot is. (Watch our video interview with Reeves.)
Ah, the mysterious Ouija board. Imbued with alleged occult powers, it’s been used to add spice to plenty of frightfests over the years, from 13 Ghosts to The Exorcist to Paranormal Activity. Now, everybody’s favorite board is ready for its close-up, but critics say Ouija fails to conjure much excitement aside from a few jump-scares. When a teenager dies in an accident, her friends attempt to contact her in the great beyond, awaking a malevolent spirit in the process. The pundits say Ouija is competently made but thoroughly bland and decidedly short on creepiness.
Made with the best of intentions and based upon a remarkable true story, 23 Blast would seem to have all the pieces in place to wring tears from even the most hardened pigskin fans. Unfortunately, critics say the movie could use a lesson in clock management; despite fine acting from a group of seasoned pros, the film’s narrative is a little too slack. Travis Freeman (Mark Hapka) is a high school football player who loses his vision from an inflammation of meningitis, but with the help of his family and friends, he eventually returns to the field. The pundits say 23 Blast has a nice sense of place and a few touching moments, but it’s awfully predictable.
Certified Fresh on TV:
After a rollicking, action-packed premiere, The Walking Dead mellowed out a bit for its second episode; critics say “Strangers”(100 percent) settles into a more deliberate, dialogue-heavy groove while still maintaining suspense.
Critics were mixed (but mostly positive) for the latest episode of Sons of Anarchy, saying that while it relied too heavily on brutal plot twists for effect, saying goodbye to a familiar face gives “Greensleeves”(70 percent) some emotional weight.
Also opening this week in limited release:
The Heart Machine, an indie thriller about a Manhattanite who suspects his long-distance girlfriend may be catfishing him, is at 100 percent.