Execrable: Indiscretion

Indiscretion (2016)
Directed by John Stewart Muller
Written by Laura Boersma, John Stewart Muller
Produced by Laura Boersma, John Stewart Muller, Timothy Rhys, Thomas Beach, Gabe Lang, Alexandra Bentley, J.C. Cantu, Joseph Suarez, Dylan Matlock, Frederick Schroeder, Aric Avelino, Randy Newman, Keylee Sanders, Therese Beach, George Kevin Chapin, Karen Clark, Barbara Gallagher, Ron Gallagher, William Kyte, Jerry Lang, Joni Lang, Kevin Lynch, Kathleen S. Muller, Aaron Peterson, Susie Peterson
Starring Mira Sorvino, Christopher Backus, Cary Elwes, Katherine McNamara, LisaGay Hamilton, Shane Callahan, Melora Walters
For pleasure and political profit, a psychiatrist (Sorvino) unsatisfactorily wed to a maritally derelict, reputedly unfaithful New Orleanian councilman (Elwes) assesses, seduces, then manipulates an obsessively unstable sculptural bricoleur, whose ascendant repute exceeds his talent, to murder her husband so that she can undertake for his flagging senatorial campaign by exploiting popular sympathy to endorse a ticket of disarmament. That stratagem’s exposited by her dupe at the denouement of this garishly lit, positively prognosticable crime drama evidently occurring in Lifetime’s and Netflix’s parallel universe, where detectives don’t exist. Your complimentary spoiler isn’t half so much an affront as the conjoint investment by extravigesimal, moneyed barnacles to produce this dreck, which portrays as predictably as its plot marriage as a cell to be escaped, for the gratification of embittered housewives and monition of young, germinal careerists — an intimation that’s familiarly pernicious in mundane, contemporary agitprop. Like everyone else here, Sorvino and Backus (whose career’s initiation concurs with that of their marriage) are clearly grinding through the motions, generating exiguous eroticism during their characters’ fling, and even less interest while he’s loudly stalking her or romancing her gorgeous, gormless daughter (McNamara). As poorly plotted as thrillers come, it only deviates from convention at its unbelievable conclusion; as seedy bait for vicarious and disgruntled devil’s advocates, it’s as putrid as any of the effluent issued by Blumhouse.

Instead, watch Diabolique, Fatal Attraction or Obsessed.

Execrable: The Damned

The Damned, A.K.A. Gallows Hill (2013)
Directed by Víctor García
Written by Richard D’Ovidio, David Higgins
Produced by Peter Block, Andrea Chung, David Higgins, Richard D’Ovidio, Cristina Villar, Mauricio Ardila, Julián Giraldo
Starring Peter Facinelli, Sophia Myles, Nathalia Ramos, Sebastian Martínez, Carolina Guerra, Juan Pablo Gamboa, Gustavo Angarita, Julieta Salazar
Preteen girls might be rattled by this hackneyed horror’s witching-by-numbers, as drippy and dreary a contribution to the genre as any in the past decade. En route from Bogotá to Medellín, a flash flood and their everyday idiocy strand a photographer (Facinelli) and his fiancée (Myles), opportunistic sister-in-law (Guerra), irksome daughter (Ramos), and her boyfriend (Martínez) in Colombian backcountry, where they find shelter from an unceasing downpour in a hotel that’s been shuttered for nearly thirty-five years. Against warnings from its aged proprietor (Angarita), that aforementioned stupidity motivates them to free from his basement a suspiciously imprisoned girl (Salazar), along with the dead witch who’s possessed and preserved her. Despite a few bright ideas invested in D’Ovidio’s story and Asdrúbal Medina’s fastidiously fine production design, any hope for a single scare’s smothered by syrupy reminiscence, unconvincing CG, a sequence of exhausted cliches and Frederik Wiedmann’s hoary score, which reliably disturbs any emerging trace of spooky mood. Facinelli’s blandly adequate as a milksop who’s as senselessly unprepared for action as the rest of his party, and so a fit lead subject to García’s able, unremarkable direction. Were Ramos less obnoxious, and D’Ovidio’s and Higgins’ dialogue not so bathetic, this might’ve been mediocre.

Instead, watch either version of The Old Dark House.

Execrable: Hot Girls Wanted

Hot Girls Wanted (2015)
Directed by Jill Bauer, Ronna Gradus
Written by Brittany Huckabee
Produced by Jill Bauer, Ronna Gradus, Rashida Jones, Brittany Huckabee, Mary Anne Franks, Debby Herbenick, Bryant Paul, Daniel Raiffe, Kat Vecchio, Abigail Disney, Barbara Dobkin, Geralyn White Dreyfous, Chandra Jessee, Evan Krauss, Ann Lovell, Julie Parker Benello, Gini Reticker, Jacki Zehner
Starring Tressa Silguero, Riley Reynolds, Rachel Bernard, Kendall Plemons, Kelly Silguero, Emeterio Silguero, Ava Kelly, Lucy Tyler, Michelle Toomey, Ivan H. Itzkowitz III, Levi Cash, Tony D.
In this abhorrent age when exhibitionism and prostitution are selectively celebrated, nobody comes cheaper than an amateur pornstar, such as several vacuous vicenarians and teens (Silguero, Bernard, Tyler, Toomey, et aliae) by Craigslist procured, then housed in a Miamian residence by an oafish “talent agent” (Reynolds). These halfwitted harlots earn an average pittance of $800 per shoot (approximately $2,400-$4,000 weekly), yet pay steep vestural and medical costs while sustaining much more physical and emotional wear than moderately successful camgirls and models who’ve superior recompense. Bauer’s and Gradus’s sloppily shot documentary accidentally divulges these girls as opportunistically obscene yet gullibly gormless and remarkably self-centered, less victims than fungible, cretinous, covetous cogs who extenuate their degrading, entirely elective profession in a tired and contracting industry that competes with homemade pornography and relatively restrained streaming sluts by working cheap, disposable, superabundant talent. Somberly, suggestively depreciative intertitles cite statistical data regarding the popularity of amateur porn and its industry’s lack of regulation to provoke sheltered boomers and Xers, but provide no further context to the movie’s accurate postulation that the normalization of pornography proceeds from an urban cultural degeneracy, a condition to which this production owes its trashy trappings. Neither does it comparatively explore the myriad of lucrative online options for attractive young women of limited means and intelligence, only a few of which are scarcely mentioned. They have obliged budding hustlers if the filmmakers have deterred but a few hundred from participation in this especially sleazy, abusive, potentially injurious form of porn, as by their even-handed depiction of Silguero’s ordinarily short career, resultant maladies and retirement at the advice of her mother and spinelessly dithering boyfriend (Plemons). Akin to this flick’s other aforelisted, preposterously profuse productional parasites, that overt dearth of talent that Bauer, Gradus and especially Jones have evidenced in their piffling corporate careers has always been supplemented by their galling congenital privilege, which they agonize to arrogate to a patriarchy that hasn’t existed for decades. As heritors of nepotism and commissaries of a contemporary feminism that’s far more disposed to gainfully exploit the unfortunate indiscretion of poor and middle-class women and skew its consequences as “oppression” rather than empower them by promoting an embarrassment of available alternatives, they prove themselves specimens of their ignoble, incompetent, pietistical class. So few in their stratum care to grasp that the little people who whore themselves do so volitionally.

Instead, watch Escorts or Rocco.

Execrable: Je t’aime moi non plus

Je t’aime moi non plus (1976)
Written and directed by Serge Gainsbourg
Produced by Jacques-Eric Strauss, Claude Berri
Starring Joe Dallesandro, Jane Birkin, Hugues Quester, Nana Gainsbourg, Reinhard Kolldehoff, Gerard Depardieu
Ever the trailblazer, Gainsbourg baked cinema’s first great queer turkey years before that particular platter was served annually as Oscar bait. In a rural pseudo-America, the relationship of two strapping, gay garbagemen is disrupted when that twosome’s hunkier homo (Dallesandro) falls for a boyish gamine (Birkin) employed as the barmaid of a remote roadside cafe, to the chagrin and eventual, violent ire of his embattled boyfriend (Quester). Lest he deviate from wont, their transitory romance is consummated with shrieking sodomy, for which they’re ejected from several hotels. Trite (if not tame) by contemporary standards, Gainsbourg’s foul fiasco hasn’t much to recommend it save the considerable, concerted screen presence of its attractive stars. Alas, Quester is the only one among them who can actually act; the camera loves them both, but Little Joe is almost as stiffly unfit when dubbed as usual, and hasn’t any chemistry with the director’s scrawnily curveless mistress. Their adorable bull terrier Nana steals her every scene, mayhap because she’s spared any lines. As in all his pictures, some tackily gimmicky shots are sprinkled throughout elsewise technically sound direction, and ham-fisted symbolism abounds in most scenes, uttered often as daft dialogue verifying that Serge’s verbal verve was strictly lyric. Just as wearisome are his patently sham American trappings: a Mack truck, hamburgers, bluejeans and a rock band that performs during and after a horrific competition of dumpy ecdysiasts. Depardieu’s briefly squandered in the role of an addled equestrian, as is perennial nebbish Michel Blanc. Nearly a decade after its controversial release, voxless variants of Gainsbourg’s classic, celebrated, titular, trademark signature single serenade the leads as they kiss ineptly. Lingering shots of a dumpsite and a climax wherein Birkin and Dallesandro generate minimal erotic heat via anal intercourse in the bed of his garbage truck remind us what this movie is, and where it belongs.

Instead, watch Going Places.

Execrable: Charlotte for Ever

Charlotte for Ever (1986)
Directed and written by Serge Gainsbourg
Produced by Claudie Ossard, Jean-Claude Fleury, Charlotte Fraisse
Starring Serge Gainsbourg, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Roland Bertin, Roland Dubillard, Anne Le Guernec, Sabeline Campo
That late phase of his life and career when Gainsbourg intimated incestuous relations with his adolescent daughter for publicity and profit climaxed with his hokey ode to hebephilia, persisted with a salaciously sloppy smooch when Charlotte won a César Award for her lead performance in An Impudent Girl, then finally fizzled for the failure of this preposterously plotless, mawkish, kinky little drama, notable chiefly for its scant score and cockamamie comedy, mayhap half of which is deliberate. Succeeding his wife’s fiery demise in an automotive accident (from which he escaped with a supposedly scorched, gloved right hand), an alcoholic screenwriter (Gainsbourg) years past his prime mourns her by moping around his home, composing bad poetry, pitching lewdly unsalable scripts to his producer (Dubillard), comforting a heartbroken friend (Bertin), flirting with his sullen, sylphlike scion (Gainsbourg) and her equally beddable, if brainless friend (Campo), and boffing a butterfaced student (Le Guernec) under his tutelage. All else is implied. His admittedly striking composition can’t be faulted for all the truly unique inanities that Gainsbourg realizes therein: Charlotte whips wet, unshampooed hair to and fro while wiggling her rump; father and daughter reenact their respective wife’s and mother’s fictional death with slot cars; hungover Serge fingers his throat for genuine emesis; as Charlotte attacks Le Guernec in a jaundiced wax, her dad tears himself away from his toilet (and a close-up of his erratic urinary stream) to manhandle the ugly, shapely strumpet, then dance with his little girl. They recite and vogue rather than act, for who needs characters when they already are? As sulking Charlotte gazes dazed in what appears a harrowed hebetude punctuated by periodic outbursts, stuporous yet spastic Serge emotes weirdly, rotating his twisting, flicking paws, quoting classic literature in monologies, and muttering ham-handed exposition because he can’t or won’t exert allusion in a non-lyrical context: “I’ll steal something from classics like Benjamin Constant. Herman won’t notice. Poor idiot! He’s an ignoramus.” Most of this transpires as one might imagine those weekends or summers when the divorced pop star enjoyed custody. Just as aforementioned Lemon Incest is derived from the principal theme of Chopin’s third étude in E major, the tune of this picture’s eponymous theme song is cribbed from Khachaturian’s Andantino; in both, Charlotte’s breathily inept vocals remind all listeners that she’s as much her mother’s daughter as an inarguable beneficiary of daddy’s nepotism. Naturally, Gainsbourg’s music is excellent, but meager in repetition of only a few tracks. Leave it to Serge to err in a manner contrary to everyone else! Despite its absurdity, this most decadent chanteur’s laughable lust letter is truly singular, and entertaining for its perverted peculiarities.

Execrable: Bang Gang

Bang Gang (A Modern Love Story) (2015)
Written and directed by Eva Husson
Produced by Laurent Baudens, Didar Domehri, Gaël Nouaille
Starring Marilyn Lima, Lorenzo Lefèbvre, Daisy Broom, Finnegan Oldfield, Fred Hotier, Raphaël Porcheron, Manuel Husson
Two strains of cinematic hack can be severalized by gender among the superabundance of derivative dullards who’ve succeeded the last great French cineastes in the wake of their attrition to reduce Francophonic cinema to a trendy, tacky, Americanized, globalist cesspit: effete epigones who strive and fail to mimic the likes of Truffaut, Rohmer, Chabrol and especially Pialat, and thick women arrogating the tone or style (without the substance) of Agnes Varda or Catherine Breillat. That latter camp produces idiots like Husson, who in turn produces idiocies such as her debut feature, which drearily depicts vapid, vacuous teens who bond at private, prurient parties over drugs, dull sex and duller music, until their local physicians sweep up after their venereal indulgences by treating them for incident outbreaks of syphilis, gonorrhea and at least one unbidden pregnancy, as though the repercussions of such debaucheries are purely corporal. Husson struggles to generate, or at least evoke a zeitgeist with adolescent pretensions embodied in postures and vocalized via clunky, narrational metaphors, but only ultimately betrays her own naiveté. If her young players are as jejune as her story, they can’t be blamed for roles that are almost interchangeably alike, only varying in how they miffingly mope. Besides, the most attractive among them (Lima, Lefèbvre) are annoyingly so, while the ugliest (Broom, Oldfield, Hotier) are visual indignities whether in conversation or coitus. It’s as responsible as a narcoleptic babysitter, aphrodisiacal as colonoscopic footage and personally profound as an episode of a reality show, but its parenthetic subtitle is accurate: this Modern Love Story radiates its directress’s limitless love for herself.

Execrable: Lift Me Up

Lift Me Up (2015)
Directed by Mark Cartier
Written by Franco Zavala, Aviv Rubinstien, Mark Cartier
Produced by Mark Cartier, Jonny Jay, Lisha Yakub, Jacob Patrick, Franco Zavala, Mike Montgomery, Lars Anderson
Starring Todd Cahoon, Sarah Frangenberg, Shane Harper, Maureen McCormick, Jonny Jay, Chris Browning, Kathryn McCormick, Gene Gabriel, Jacob Patrick, Madison Hargrove, Mallory Hargrove, Lexi DiStefano, Rafael de la Fuente, Antonio D. Charity, Gary Hargrove
Frangenberg isn’t a pinch as pretty, pleasing, plausible or lightsome as anyone who might clothe with appeal her role of a tetchy teen whose dolor for her late mother is expressed in flailing dance and shared by the stepfather (Cahoon) who she loudly and routinely vituperates, a fit yet estrogenically hypersensitive gunnery sergeant who attends a support group with other proto-menopausal widowers to vent his grief and craft pottery. Nearly everyone in this tame yet overheated drama is wooden, strepitently hammy or interchanging between either unwatchable extreme, obliged by dialogue as stiff and screamingly unfunny, from the mouths of characters defined either by insipidity or quirks as cutesy as Michael Matta’s mincing music. Zavala’s conflict is sloppily fabricated with unexplained absurdities: Cahoon’s obdurately obtuse Marine — who nearly deserves the bitchy invective he sustains daily — protests his stepdaughter’s daily transport courtesy of her unmistakably innocuous, quasi-nerdy inamorato manqué (Harper) without his spoken permission, but when she’s traumatized that he disposed of her mother’s entire wardrobe and other possessions in a previous, purportedly purgative scene without consulting her in advance, can’t fathom why he’d need hers (and nobody else cares); sororal twins (Hargroves) who’ve the demeanor of flamers coked to the gills and popularity warranting an entourage at our carping protagonist’s high school invite her to a party with presumed intent to humiliate her, then lose their minds when she smooches a cute classmate (Fuente) on whom they’d both designs; a sojourn at the home of her negligent and inconsiderate father (Browning) impels the aspiring dancer to her inevitable reconciliation with his successor, but a minute of this deadbeat’s sleazy presence raises the question of why she’s at all eager to reside with him. Their script exposes Rubinstien’s and Cartier’s categorical inability to pen compelling drama or amusing comedy, but much of the latter’s unintentionally manifest in Kathryn McCormick’s choreography, whereby the lunky leading lady and her classmates fling themselves about goofily. Some of that terpsichorean welter is prefaced by a metaphorically convoluted dithyramb delivered by McCormick during her cameo, but it’s never more hilarious than when Frangenberg pantomimes and thrashes wackily through a hokily interpretive routine onstage at a climactic competition. Would that this entire movie was as genuinely entertaining as its risibly tossing steppers, or that its hour of story wasn’t padded with nearly another fifty minutes of filler.

Instead, watch Uncle Buck.

Execrable: Phoenix

Phoenix (1995)
Directed by Troy Cook
Written by Troy Cook, Jimmy Lifton
Produced by Dan Bates, Troy Cook, Jimmy Lifton, Morgan Salkind
Starring Stephen Nichols, Billy Drago, Denice Duff, Brad Dourif, Peter Murnik, William Sanderson, Robert Gossett, Betsy Soo, Jeremy Roberts, Leland Orser
Most of these rather languorous, fifth-rate fantasies that aired during afternoons of the nineties and early aughts on the Sci-Fi Channel (to the middling approval of children and teenagers) seem less produced than cobbled for prompt airplay. In this one, the bloody insurgence of military androids posted to a lunar mining colony provokes their manufacturer’s oily CEO (Drago) to dispatch a strike force under the oversight of his testy lackey (Dourif) to neutralize the offending automatons and their undersized honcho (Sanderson). Treachery, corporate conspiracy, psychic side-effects of the mine’s exclusively extracted element and a few instances of shocking ineptitude create complications substituted for any sort of plot. Nichols is blandly macho as the team’s commander, lacking a dash of chemistry with his dubious love interest (Duff). His team’s cadre are stock stereotypes: doomed black lieutenant (Gossett); tough hussy (Soo); brainish clown (Roberts). Usually a reliable character actor, Sanderson is here either deliberately stiff or merely sedated. Dourif’s contrarily seething overperformance is amusing enough, as is a single sinister note played greasily by Drago. Expenses incurred by what passes for this flick’s production design certainly couldn’t exceed any budget in the low six figures; most of the costumes are inferior to middling togs of cosplay, and off-world mines, corporate complexes and hospitals of the future respectively resemble boiler rooms, warehouses and dentists’ offices of the ’90s sparsely adorned with neon lights. Congruous spacecraft consist of adorably toylike miniatures and graphics to rival those in cutscenes of coexistent shmups. Excepting a few unintentionally hilarious lines, most of Cook’s and Lifton’s dialogue is as shopworn as their story defined by derivation; even the malevolent corporation’s eponym Rydell is suspiciously similar to Tyrell. This is recommended only for indiscriminate potheads and Dourif’s fans, especially those who supported the twitchy thespian before Peter Jackson revived his career.

Instead, watch Scanners, Blade Runner or Ghost in the Shell.

Execrable: Girls’ Night Out

Girls’ Night Out (2017)
Directed by Philippe Gagnon
Written by Lisa Steele
Produced by Ian Whitehead, Kaleigh Kavanagh, Jean Bureau
Starring Mackenzie Mauzy, Kelly Kruger, Jacob Blair, Katherine Barrell, Hannah Emily Anderson, Cody Ray Thompson, Tristan D. Lalla

“Women complain about sex more often than men. Their gripes fall into two major categories: (1) Not enough, (2) Too much.”

–Ann Landers

Muted, the first twenty minutes of this crime drama excreted from the bowels of Lifetime could easily be mistaken for a carousal of alcoholic hookers; in actuality, it’s a bibulous bachelorette party thrown by her whilom sorority’s sisters (Kruger, Barrell, Anderson) for a copywriter (Mauzy) in a hotel room, limousine and strip club. Her loony ex-boyfriend (Blair) meanwhile abducts to torture her fiancee (Thompson), then threatens the wassailing quartet of ditzy careerists with blackmail by footage of their licentious collegiate indiscretions, coercing their fulfillment of several dicey, disgusting, destructive, absurdly agonizing and abashing tasks. None of these ladies are for their sleaze and self-righteous egoism significantly more sympathetic than their antagonist, now unhinged by a criminal trial in which he was acquitted years before that devastated his budding sporting career. Whoever can overlook this flick’s trashily garish photography (of an oversaturated sort common to televised fare or ugly features lensed by the likes of Ben Seresin), downright distasteful characters whose noisome personalities were defined by their inane collegial culture, and a few yawning plot holes may also be sufficiently suasible or dupable to believe that a rape can be inflicted by a man upon his doxy of over a year while both are drunk. Its cockamamie contrivances are sporadically fun, but this pernicious, preposterous propaganda is plainly aimed to inspire in stupidly susceptible young women the inkling that sex in any conceivable circumstance may be assault, and victimhood’s a mere question of post-coital dissatisfaction. Trash of this fashion would be decried detestable in a normal society; in those where mendacious accusations of rape are spotlit monthly by corrupt news media outlets until they’re debunked, it’s all the more repugnant for its mundanity.

Behold — the most unconvincing headshot yet shot:

Execrable: Dead Awake

Dead Awake (2016)
Directed by Phillip Guzman
Written by Jeffrey Reddick
Produced by Phillip Guzman, Philip Marlatt, Galen Walker, Kurt Wehner, James LaMarr, Derek Lee Nixon, A.J. Gutierrez, Jeffrey Reddick, LeeLee Wellberg
Starring Jocelin Donahue, Jesse Bradford, Jesse Borrego, Lori Petty, Brea Grant, James Eckhouse, Mona Lee Fultz, A.J. Gutierrez, Natalie Jones, Billy Blair
It’s as apt as inevitable a subject to be exploited for the conception of a horror flick, but sleep paralysis isn’t ever in reality so soporiferous as this flat pap concerning a social worker (Donahue) who investigates the inexplicable death of her identical twin (Donahue) with her sibling’s boyfriend (Bradford) and an invariably incapable somnologist (Borrego) who’s colligated historical, apocryphal and personal evidence of a dread beldame (Jones) who strangles her somnially immobilized victims. Actualized by Guzman’s perfunctorily practiced direction, Reddick’s story typically, torpidly totters from one prosaic, progressively preposterous scene to the next, each replete with a tranche of spoken and conceptual clichés. Securely typecast Donahue prettily navigates her leaden, often footling dialogue with facility as spare as her figure to surpass most of her co-stars. Borrego and Blair seem to vie for the goofier performance, and Bradford’s greasily bewildering crinal extensions and beard impart to him a semblance of Colin Farrell cosplaying as Dick Masterson, dubbed by A.J. Bowen at his most nebbish. Much of Dominique Martinez’s photography is weirdly desaturated when that banal blue filter isn’t applied, and both modes are as ugly as Donahue’s god-awful wardrobe. Presumably intended for audiences possessing an infinitesimal threshold for horror who enjoyed Reddick’s Final Destination, it’s not likely to unsettle any save the smallest children and animals. Howbeit, this picture may be someday pressed as the nonmedical, hypnagogic remedy that finally cured insomnia.

Instead, watch A Nightmare on Elm Street.