By Nick Maylor
How can one decide what film truly is the “worst”? Something like The Room (2003) might qualify. Anything made by Aaron Seltzer and Jason Friedberg (or any other hacks) never has the prospect of being good. Maybe something that features quality talent but disappoints and bombs? It’s hard to say.
I’ve got one that came to mind when the idea was proposed. My “worst film” is something that wasn’t just a disappointment; it was a bait-and-switch, “WTF was that?” Kind of experience that left a foul taste in my mouth and made me feel cheated.
It’s not possible to analyze my film without some context. The picture on its own may be something less terrible than my memory of it but that’s because I was deceived right from the beginning.
Deceptive marketing is inherent for many films when trailers are released; for various reasons. The trailers for Avengers: Infinity War (2018) intentionally featured shots and sequences that not only do not appear in the film; they contain misdirection to keep the audience guessing.
That’s fair enough. It’s not like the film failed to deliver on its promise. This simple misdirection is necessary or at least, excusable.
For another example, let’s look at The Grey (2011), a movie that was presented as “Liam Neeson vs. Wolves” fight to the death.
Ticket sold! More than enough to get me to the theatre. Funnily enough however, The Grey (2011) not only delivers on that whole “Neeson v Wolf” thing; it’s a brilliant character study that is way better than it has any right to be.
That movie made me cry, no joke.
Alas, there are also deceptive marketing campaigns that essentially serve as a giant middle finger to the general public. My “worst film” is one of these insults.
Take a look at the trailer for The Village (2004)
From the director of The Sixth Sense (1999), Unbreakable (2000) and Signs (2002); three impressive thriller-esque movies from the young emerging director. I liked all of those movies. I was sold. Looks cool. Great cast.
The trailer for this film makes it look like a horror/thriller/mystery akin to Shyamalan’s previous work.
It was neither. Not by a long shot.
It also blatantly cheats. Take a look at this photo:
See that gravestone? Read the text:
“Here Lies DANIEL NICHOLSON Beloved son of August Nicholson
June 17, 1890 – November 3 1897″
Those are dates. The film tells us when it takes place. This “Village” is isolated in thick woods, isolated from the outside world. The people don’t leave because of “Those we don’t speak of”; what appear to be giant, robed, porcupine/human hybrids.
If you haven’t seen this travesty, I’ll spare you the anguish of having to watch it.
There are no monsters. The beasts in the woods are fabricated boogeymen created by the town elders to dissuade anyone from leaving, They do this because this movie takes place in a contemporary setting. The outside word? 2004 Pennsylvania.
This isn’t a period piece. That’s your twist. The town elders hate the modern world and created this isolated village to escape its “evils”. Showing that gravestone is cheap and cheating. Your movie should have been able to tell us this without the blatant lie. The movie itself is also terrible.
No horror. No thriller. Just some incredibly misguided attempt at a morality play with an unclear message and a general “WTF did I just watch?” after taste.
It felt like a hand reached out from the screen and slapped me across the face. Ugh. Shyamalan… what happened?
I straight-up BOYCOTTED M. Night Shyamalan for 13 years after seeing this movie. Swore I would never watch anything he made ever again.
That lasted until Split (2016). I did not, and have not watched Lady in the Water (2006), The Happening (2008), The Last Airbender (2010), After Earth (2013) or The Visit (2015). From what I’ve heard, I haven’t missed anything worthwhile.
I loved what Shyamalan did with Split and lifted my boycott because it looked so interested,
I really can’t wait for Glass (2019); Shyamalan’s sequel to both Unbreakable and Split. I’m glad he’s returned to form but…. DAMN.
The Village is just awful. Bryce Dallas Howard gives a great performance and as I mentioned, the film has a formidable cast but nothing can save this terrible bloody film.
Roger Ebert said, “The Village is a colossal miscalculation, a movie based on a premise that cannot support it, a premise so transparent it would be laughable were the movie not so deadly solemn … To call the ending an anticlimax would be an insult not only to climaxes but to prefixes. It’s a crummy secret, about one step up the ladder of narrative originality from It was all a dream. It’s so witless, in fact, that when we do discover the secret, we want to rewind the film so we don’t know the secret anymore.” The film is also listed on Ebert’s “Most Hated” list
Nick is an actor/writer/comedian/musician from Hamilton, ON Canada. Having been a film nut since the early days of his life, Nick has had an obsession with cinema and popular entertainment. Nick has written for thecinemaholic.com and is the current Foote & Friends “expert” on all things geek/superhero/comic-book related. Nick is the host/producer of the official Foote & Friends On Film podcast. Nick met John when studying acting at the Toronto Film School, for which John H. Foote was director and Film History professor. The two have been arguing ever since.
Follow Nick on Twitter @NickMaylor