Underwater – 6.5
Kristen Stewart is undeniably hot, having long since left the shadow of Twilight behind her and become a capable actress in her own right, but even with her star power, the killer effects wizardry of Legacy Effects, and a cameo by Chthulu himself, this thing tanks as anything other than a mindless Alien/Abyss wannabe. Check it out if you want, it’s fun, but for a story that takes place 6 miles down, it’s about as deep as a thimble. About as believable as Aquaman. Seriously, if you’re going to bring Chthulu in, give us some damn Lovecraftian strangeness and make it worth the time! My lady and I, after the credits, were joking about how cool it would be to have a cut of the whole film from the monster’s perspective. Like seriously, why would he give two shits about a couple of divers that aren’t bigger to him than unpopped popcorn kernels? Clearly he was doing just fine and already has an adequate food source… Why are monsters always so stupid and hungry? WTF hollywood. Wanted to like it, but honestly I forgot most of it before the credits finished rolling. Watch instead: Life or The Abyss.
The Grudge (2020) – 6.5
Twenty years after Ju-on, the grudge is still pissed off. And who can blame it? Not only did it die in a fit of violent rage, but then had to suffer through a couple terrible sequels that would be sure to piss off any ghost with a shred of integrity. Raimi’s new take isn’t a remake, but another chapter, and it’s probably the best since SMG’s rendition back in 2004. For a pop-up book of jump scares, it’s definitely not bad, it just doesn’t really go anywhere we haven’t already been. Which I guess we should’ve known from the title.
The Ring (2002) – WTF
But if you want to make that new Grudge look good, you don’t have to go far. We ended up running a bit of a japanahorror marathon this month, and you can’t do that without hitting the cornerstone, The Ring. I’d never seen it before. Now I know why. Trying to put myself in the more innocent shoes of someone twenty years ago, maybe fresh with 1996’s Scream still revolutionizing my baby mind, I still can’t for the life of me figure out what was ever scary about a girl who makes supernatural vhs tapes for high-school kids and then “rings” them on their land line to tell them they are going to die in a week. For the first 30 minutes I was kind of into the anything goes mentality, but then it swiftly started becoming clear that there really wasn’t any sense behind it all. I guess she just didn’t like the vhs player in her treehouse in the barn? “Don’t fuck with the antichrist,” would’ve been a decent plotline, except we never get even a hint of who Samara is for real or why she has the power to manifest photo-negatives from nothing. Odd can be scary, sure, but it can also be just stupid. At least Watts is fun. Watch instead: Ringu. I haven’t seen it yet, but it can’t be this bad, can it?
The Ring 2 – WTFer
We just don’t learn. If you love camp, and already wasted an evening on the first one, or you hate Naomi Watts and don’t want her to forget she participated in this crapfest, go ahead a waste a bubblegum’s worth of money and rent it. It’s that bad. Just ask Max Rourke (his truck is still running, anyway).
Stigmata – 6
So then we rolled back to 1999 and dropped in on Patricia Arquette and Rupert Wainwright doing a bit of religious horror that actually held up better than expected. It’s not terribly good either, but the writing is consistent and even has just a little something to say before the end. I’d watch it again before most anything else on this list for sure. I’m still not clear on why the ghost of that priest was quite so pissed off, but these are just the mysteries of religious life I guess…
The Descent – 5.5
2005 took us underground to fight a bunch of cannibal bat-men, with a slew of sexy women who more or less don’t have a clue how to survive in cave life. This one was better than that makes it sound, for sure, and a couple of the ladies prove themselves to be downright tough before the end, but go in with low expectations and you’ll enjoy it more. It’s campy, and badly lit, and the girls constantly make stupid decisions, and the monsters are just kind of dumb. But can you have a good time watching it? Sure. Watch instead: 127 Hours. The real monster is human stupidity, if you want a better scare.
The Descent 2 – WTFest
Yeah, if you turn this on and don’t know any better, well you get what you deserve. Terrible in every way. I swear she didn’t have that accent in the first movie. Why does Juno die at the end of both movies? She was the only character I liked…
The Darkness – OMG WTF
Kevin Bacon in a subpar horror remake of Stargate? With a budget to rival the average episode of Power Rangers? What could go wrong? Sign me up! Watch instead: Footloose, Tremors 1, or even Hollow Man.
Some shoutouts to better horror that you might’ve missed: Any one of these is more worth your time than the rest of this list. Hell, Goosebumps is better than most of that shit, straight up.