Horror fans know the feeling. You wait for months for that hyped-up scary movie to be released in theatres. You stand in line for popcorn and finally plop down in a comfy cinema seat in heightened anticipation of what has been promised to be ‘the scariest movie since…’ And then, halfway through, you realize the beginning was the best part and the movie is just not going to get any better.
Disappointment turns into a knot in your stomach and all you want to do is go home and create several memes about how bad the movie was. We’re looking at you, Boogeyman. And new Freddy Krueger (also old Freddy Krueger). And… well every movie on this list.
1. The Nun
The Conjuring was released in 2013 and received mostly positive reviews. The Conjuring 2 followed in 2016 and received similar praise. The movie has a genuinely creepy core that tells the story of the Enfield poltergeist and it is also the film in which the freaky-looking nun is introduced. It creeped most movie-goers out at the time because she is immortalized in a painting by Ed Warren and comes to life after his wife has a vision. The nun turns out to be a demonic entity by the name of Valak that is banished to hell by Lorraine Warren towards the end of the film.
By the time we meet Valak again in the 2018 movie, The Nun, all the creepiness is gone. All the terror that The Conjuring brought is now replaced by a hokey-looking monster in a nun outfit that couldn’t scare a child if it tried. What should have been a strong instalment in The Conjuring universe, turned out to be a weak attempt at frightening people with several jump scares and a truly dismal attempt at explaining a disjointed backstory.
2. La Llorona
The frightening legend of La Llorona has been passed down through many generations. La Llorona, or The Weeping Woman, is part of Latin American folklore and is still used to terrify misbehaving children. The story goes that a long time ago, a woman named Maria, drowned her own children in revenge after her husband cheated. However, she was immediately overcome with regret and sorrow and killed herself. After being banished from heaven, she was sent back to Earth to live out her afterlife in misery. La Llorona is said to hover near bodies of water, all the while wailing and weeping for her children. Should you hear her or encounter her, run. If you are a cheating husband, run faster.
The horror movie, The Curse of La Llorona, was released in 2019 and was eagerly anticipated by horror fans worldwide. Unfortunately, the movie is one of the worst modern horrors and fails to scare up even one creepy scene. Even more unfortunate is the fact that even the jump scares fail in every way. The La Llorona character becomes somewhat laughable in her attempt to frighten audiences. And worst of all, the whole thing is just incredibly boring.
3. It Part 1 (and 2)
It, yet another great novel by Stephen King, has been turned into two mediocre films. The opening sequence of the novel is so memorable that you immediately identify little Georgie Denbrough with his yellow rain coat in It Part 1 (the movie).
The film starts out really well, following in the footsteps of the book, and shows Georgie running down the street chasing after his paper boat until he finds Pennywise in the sewer. The scene where the clown bites off his arm, is shocking and one would be forgiven for thinking that the rest of the movie will follow suit. Unfortunately, despite great performances by the cast, the movie never gets off the ground. It is two hours of a non-scary clown trying to scare children by using their greatest fears against them. Part 2 is even worse as the clown just doesn’t get any scarier. At the end, the now adult members of the Losers Club, shout abuse (in the form of ‘you don’t exist’) at him to the point that he weakens and finally ‘dies.’ It is disappointing that the fearsome creature dreamed up by Stephen King is reduced to a bobble-head clown that resorts to calling children ‘egg-boy’ and other names in a weepy voice.
4. Jeepers Creepers
Jeepers Creepers, released in 2001, has a promising start. It builds suspense with its intense opening sequence and you can almost feel the terror emanating through the screen. All too quickly however, the scares dissipate and what you are left with is a by-the-numbers horror flick with a terrible monster reveal. Terrible as in bad.
The monster looks like something between a badly drawn demon and a CGI alien gone wrong. Known as the Creeper, the monster is an ancient evil being that awakens every 23 years to gobble up some body parts. The backstory of the creature, as well as the sewn together bodies shown in the film, could have made for a horrifying tale, but it is all ruined by how non-terrifying the Creeper actually looks. Sadly, the sequels are even worse. Eventually, the scariest part of the movies turns out to be the writer/director, Victor Salva. Salva had been convicted and sentenced to three years in prison for sexual abuse of a minor (12-year-old boy) in 1988.
5. The Shining
There can be no doubt that Stephen King is a master of creating horrific characters and writing magnificent horror stories. Ever since Carrie was published in the eighties, King has cemented his legacy as one of the best novel writers in the world. The Shining is one of his standout novels, in which he brings to life the truly memorable character of Jack Torrance who slowly loses his mind in the eerie Overlook Hotel.
Considering the excellent novel, it is no wonder that King is not a fan of the film adaptation by Stanley Kubrick. None of the dark and brooding atmosphere that King so skilfully created in the book, is anywhere to be found in the movie. Jack Torrance, played by Jack Nicholson, looks crazed, but is never actually scary. The hedge animals are replaced by a maze, and Torrance eventually dies in the dumbest way that is completely different from how he dies in the novel. This is one film that really should be remade.
6. The Happening
M. Night Shyamalan is known for his hits and misses when it comes to movies he directs. Who can forget The Last Airbender, After Earth, Lady in the Water, and The Happening. Turns out, most people wished they could, especially the train wreck that is The Happening.
What was meant to be a thrillingly scary, apocalyptic horror, turns out to be a sad and sometimes even comedic disaster. What could have been a truly terrifying tale of nature taking revenge on selfish humans, morphs into a caricature of itself, causing most audiences to laugh at the gruesome scenes instead of cowering in terror. Lions eating people and a lawnmower running someone over has never been less scary. In fact, some people are convinced that the movie is a comedy and was just mislabelled as a horror film.
After Hereditary hit theatres in 2018 and scared the crap out of audiences, horror fans couldn’t wait to watch Ari Aster’s next horror attempt: Midsommar. The film starts out creepily enough with main character Dani Ardor’s family dying in a murder-suicide. Dani cannot seem to move past the tragedy and decides to go to a midsommar celebration in Sweden with her boyfriend and other friends. It is at this point where things start to go south.
It soon becomes apparent that the Harga community in Sweden is not all unicorns and rainbows, especially after two elderly citizens jump off the edge of a cliff and die in a gruesome fashion. Things go even further south after this and at one point Dani’s boyfriend, Christian, starts having sex with a teenage girl while naked women surround them. Seemingly in homage to The Wicker Man (Nicolas Cage version), Christian is stuffed into a disembowelled bear at the end of the film and burned to death alongside the corpses of his friends, while Dani joins the villagers outside and starts to smile in a demented fashion.
The problem with Midsommar is that not only is it not scary, it is just confusing. And exceedingly long.
While movies such as Midsommar and IT at least got some decent reviews, it seems that Rings couldn’t inspire any critic to say anything positive about it. It was rated a dismal 8% on Rotten Tomatoes and with good reason. The third instalment to The Ring trilogy is such a far cry from the original movie that it doesn’t seem related except for the appearance of Samara.
Whereas The Ring was able to tap into people’s fear with an eerie videotape and a promise of death in 7 days, Rings does not produce a single scare-inducing moment. Not one. What could have and should have been a frightening final send-off using modern technology, turned into a joke. The plane crash scene in the beginning is just ridiculous and everything that follows is worse. Much like with The Happening, the scares are laughable with the dialogue inducing further laughter. After all, who takes any movie seriously during which a one-dimensional character very seriously and dramatically says: “The copied file is bigger than the original file!”
9. The Forest
Seeing as how Japan’s Aokigahara forest is also known as the Suicide Forest, there are a multitude of scary stories inspired by it. Sarah Lotz’s haunting novel, The Three, includes skin-crawling scenes in and around the forest. The movie, The Forest, is about an American woman who goes to Aokigahara to search for her missing twin sister.
With all the spookiness and tales of bodies hanging in the Aokigahara forest’s trees, you would expect the movie to have a creepy plot and disturbing visual scenes. Alas, no. The scares are watered down to the tired and decades-old jump variety. The weird sounds coming from the forest are not scary either, and the visions Sara (American woman) experiences, are just dull and boring. The ending is far too predictable and not chill inducing in the least. And perhaps worst of all, it seems to trivialize a site where so many have lost their lives without paying tribute to any of them in any way.
10. Slender Man
For a creepy pasta turned movie based on real events, Slender Man is exceptionally disappointing. When the first Slender Man images appeared online in 2009, they had the ultimate creep-factor. Children were playing in the foreground while something inhuman watches them from the background. The figure, named Slender Man, took over people’s imagination and more stories and images appeared. Things turned very dark when two 12-year old girls lured their 12-year old friend, Payton, into the woods in Waukesha, Wisconsin and proceeded to stab her 19 times. Payton survived the attack and her friends were sentenced to long stays in mental institutions after claiming that Slender Man forced them to carry out the attack.
The movie, Slender Man, was released in 2018, but had none of the terror of the real-life attack or the fear caused by the imaginary monster. The characters of the girls in the film are very poorly defined which makes for a very dull story. Considering the hype around the release of the movie and how scary it could have been, this movie is truly one of the worst disappointments in cinematic horror history.