The Best Films of 2023
The Orny Awards 2023

The Worst Films of 2023

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Worst Films of 2023

A party to skip, Josh Duhamel’s retirement plan, monsters and gangsters, reheated streaming filler, the new Gallo/Freeman joint, moldy corn, Freaky-less Friday, low-budget state of mind, the birds are back, and a silly old bear on a murderous rampage.

These are the Worst Films of 2023.

W14

Winnie the Pooh: Blood and Honey

“Winnie-the-Pooh” entered the public domain in 2022, and you better believe there was someone right at the gates waiting to take advantage of this legal liberation. Enter director Rhys Frake-Waterfield, who slaps together a cheap slasher film to bring attention to himself, looking to make something grim and awful with characters that typically bring joy to millions of young readers and viewers. “Winnie the Pooh: Blood and Honey” was made with a lunch money budget, cast with unseasoned actors, and routinely fumbled by Frake-Waterfield, whose moviemaking incompetence is on display throughout the tedious picture. “Blood and Honey” hopes to be shocking and perverse, but it’s basically unwatchable, not even engaging on a camp level.

 

X18

Birdemic 3: Sea Eagle

I know, I know, you must be thinking, “There’s a third ‘Birdemic’ movie?” There is, with writer/director James Nguyen once again trying to milk his bad movie brand name with another offering of intentionally poor filmmaking trying to catch on as cult goodness. “Birdemic 3: Sea Eagle” is basically the same as the rest of Nguyen’s oeuvre, only here what little passes for pacing has been destroyed. “Sea Eagle” takes an hour to actually encounter its “Birdemic,” and the wait isn’t worth it, finding Nguyen rehashing the same ideas and visuals, trusting the audience will respond to the endeavor’s clunky message on environmental disaster. It’s a brutal sit, and hopefully it’s the last we see of these angry birds.

 

HOUSE PARTY 2

House Party

I know, I know, you must be thinking, “There’s a ‘House Party’ remake?” There is, with director Calmatic and producer LeBron James trying to rework the simple pleasures of the 1990 production into an updated take on celebratory shenanigans. Instead of trying to match the enjoyable atmosphere and fun sense of humor of the original feature, the new “House Party” remains mostly comatose during its run time, chasing flimsy ideas for comedy while never mounting a big screen shindig worth sticking around for. The first “House Party” spawned a few terrible sequels, but the remake is its own kind of awful, generally ignoring what make the 33-year-old picture work so well.     

 

VACATION FRIENDS 2 a

Vacation Friends 2

There wasn’t any public demand for a sequel to 2021’s “Vacation Friends,” but the streaming title managed to find a captive audience during pandemic life, triggering production on a follow-up. The original picture wasn’t offensive, getting by on mild shenanigans, but “Vacation Friends 2” is mostly horrible, emerging as a lazy offering of comedy from co-writer/director Clay Tarver, who’s putting in the least amount of work possible with the endeavor, trusting streaming viewers won’t notice a steep decline in quality, more interested in playing with their phones than studying a resoundingly lame effort.

 

FEAR 3

Fear

Director Deon Taylor isn’t usually associated with strong creative triumphs, and his latest, “Fear,” is one of his worst features. The helmer hopes to tap into pandemic unease with the picture, making a horror movie about isolation, trying to knot the material into a psychological game with uninteresting characters and next to nothing in monetary support to visually realize the gradually escalating nightmare. It’s a cheap quickie without much of a setting or story, and Taylor doesn’t have the imagination to reach Kubrickian heights of brain-blurring terror.

 

CHILDREN OF THE CORN 3

Children of the Corn

While technically a 2020 film (released in a single Florida town three years ago), “Children of the Corn” finally found its way to a wide release this year, and it certainly wasn’t worth the wait. Writer/director Kurt Wimmer tries to find his own way around the original Stephen King book, coming up with a nutty version of kids-aren’t-alright hellraising, mixed with a few messages on agriculture devastation. There’s something in the story worth developing, but Wimmer doesn’t bother to chase it, eventually steering the chiller into monster movie nonsense that’s dreadfully executed.

 

BUDDY GAMES SPRING AWAKENING 1

Buddy Games: Spring Awakening

2020’s “Buddy Games” was another offering of pandemic filler, with Josh Duhamel making his debut as a writer/director with the unbearable comedy. With nowhere to go, viewers gave it a shot, and Duhamel was quick to go full franchise with the endeavor (including the creation of a television show), returning with “Buddy Games: Spring Awakening,” which is somehow worse than the original, reuniting with the unpleasant ways of bros gone wild. Now the characters are older, with Duhamel taking on the world of “wokeness” and Millennials, putting in the least amount of effort with this ghastly feature.

 

RITUAL KILLER 3

The Ritual Killer

Someone keeps giving George Gallo money to make movies, with “The Ritual Killer” the latest in a long line of stinkers for the helmer, reteaming with star Morgan Freeman (who’s no stranger to paycheck roles) for a generic serial killer film that demands little of the actor and inspires even less from Gallo. It’s DTV cinema without personality, suspense, or pace, which has become a Gallo specialty over the years, finding “The Ritual Killer” particularly odious with its use of child endangerment to trigger suspense, going ugly just to pull any kind of reaction out of viewers.

 

FAMILY SWITCH 1

Family Switch

“Family Switch” is credited as an adaptation of a 2010 children’s book, but it’s really another take on “Freaky Friday,” with the production weirdly trying to hide its true inspiration. Perhaps this is out of shame, as “Family Switch” is an extraordinarily obnoxious picture from director McG, who likes to play everything in the feature as aggressively as possible. Slapstick is present, but the writing hopes to leave viewers with a heartwarming message on the power of loved ones and the magic of household support. Those who elect to watch the endeavor will likely end up with a headache instead.

 

JOHNNY AND CLYDE 2

Johnny & Clyde

Co-writer/director Tom DeNucci makes the most confusing picture of 2023 with “Johnny & Clyde,” which, during the opening 15 minutes of the feature, had me questioning if I was watching some type of sequel. Characterization is a mystery to DeNucci, and mystery is handled poorly in this bizarre crime story/supernatural tale, which offers an eye-crossing sense of storytelling and performance, with the cast led by Megan Fox. Maybe it’s a graphic novel-style tale of violence, or perhaps some tribute to exploitation cinema? DeNucci certainly doesn’t know, forcing viewers to deal with the randomness of the movie, which becomes unbearable quickly.

 

Also of note:

Ghosted, Dark Harvest, Robots, Death on the Border, The Family Plan, Thanksgiving, Sound of Freedom, The Donor Party, Strays, Arthur Malediction, Office Race, The Exorcist: Believer, Wonderwell, The Machine, and Hidden Strike.            

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