2013 Calvin Awards: Worst Picture
By Reagen Sulewski
February 20, 2013
As always, with the Calvins, we celebrate not just the best of the year, but also the worst. These ten films represent the nadir of our year at the movies – the ludicrously plotted, abysmally acted, intelligence insulting thieves of time that often had us looking for a fork to jam in our eyes. And these are just the films that we thought might have some promise. While there weren't any epic “what were they thinking?” mistakes like Battlefield Earth or Catwoman this year, we did have our share of horrible times at the movies.
Terrible horror films are a “favorite” of this category, and we're proud to crown another of its ilk as our champion of awful cinema this year. Silent House was a nearly shot-for-shot remake of a Uruguayan film of the same title which was actually kind of well regarded, so there's very little excuse for this version to be this bad. That singular “shot” is on purpose too, as both films were filmed as to look like they took place in one take – which could be very suspenseful or dreadfully tedious. I'll let you guess which one this one was. While minimalism is one way to ratchet up the tension in a horror film, having something actually happen as a result is a better idea.
Silent House's second crime was stranding Elizabeth Olsen, the new indie darling, in a film where she had essentially nothing to do other than walk around in the dark and scream. But perhaps the biggest reason this film is up here is its ridiculous “shocking for the sake of shocking” ending that makes the entire rest of the film completely pointless and nonsensical, not to mention making the whole thing seedy and exploitative. We won't quite ruin the surprise for you (not that this film deserves spoiler warnings...) except to say that you should think of the hackiest twist possible, then reject that and dig below that. We can put up with just about anything in the world expect wasting our time, and Silent House was the chief offender this year.
Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance is what happens when you see a franchise movie despite your best instincts. During the mid '00s comic movie craze when just about anything that was based on something that was originally drawn made ridiculous amounts of money, Ghost Rider was one of the more headshaking entries. Featuring one of Nicolas Cage's more bizarre performances, it somehow managed to convince people into a $55 million opening weekend. That just encouraged Hollywood, and despite the near universal verdict of “crap”, we were convinced that we wanted a second round of this. And when was the last time an all-time terrible movie had an even passable sequel?
This film was given over to the Crank directors, but while that gonzo filmmaking style worked for those live-action cartoons (I mean, to a degree – I won't argue with you too much if you hated those too) working within the constraints of a big budget blockbuster seemed to frustrate them, and they just ended up making things louder and explodier. We're pretty sure watching this film in 3D counts as an assault.