Ah February, such a wonderful time of the year. A season of love, a time of reflection on racial history, and also, horror movies… somehow.
Yeah, I don’t know if you’ve ever noticed, but the second month on the calendar tends to be the testing ground for the year in cinematic terror. Even though October and Halloween are the designated spooky seasons, for some reason we get a glut of the genre a full eight months in advance. Maybe this is part of an overall studio dump of underwhelming projects not expected to make much money (the overall garbage fire period typically lasts until after the Oscars, so we may be in for a third month of it this year). Maybe the marketing departments see a sort of revolt against romantic comedies in the forms of goth kids, single people, and couples who want a Date Night with personality. Whatever the reason, the season of candy hearts can also be one where beating ones are ripped from people’s chests.
Take this February for example. Of the 15 trailers I reviewed for major studio releases, four of them are straight up horror movies in one form or another, nearly 1/3 of the output, and a further five are action and suspense oriented. Compare that to only four love stories coming out in these same four weeks, and one of them involves a dog. Maybe the scales are tipped a bit more than usual because the ongoing pandemic can still make people feel a bit squeamish about human contact, but it really is a bit odd that, at least this year, the February movie slate involves a lot more killing than kissing.
However it shakes out, we can at least thank our lucky stars that we will have some movies that, at least on the surface, look entertaining. Last month’s output was universally bad as far as domestic releases, to the point that the only movies showing any promise were either International Feature contenders or animes. In a much needed bit of relief, this month the majority looks to be more good than bad.
But that doesn’t mean we’ve got nothing to do here. Not only do we have ill-advised horror taking up real estate outside of its thematic jurisdiction, but this month will also feature a disaster movie so bad looking that you’d sooner flee the theatre than any real catastrophe, a video game adaptation that kills so much goodwill for beloved actors, and quite possibly the most vain, self-serving interpretation of romance in recent memory.
So cuddle up closely with the one you love most, then beat the crap out of them if they suggest going to see any of these movies. This is the February 2022 edition of “This Film is Not Yet Watchable!”
Jackass Forever – February 4
I only had one regret when this film was moved from its previous release date back in October to now, and that’s the fact that I had to wait four more months to include it in this column. Look, if you’re a fan of Jackass, fine, I won’t judge you too harshly. People can like whatever they want. But this is – and always has been – stupid beyond measure, and never in a fun way. It’s one thing when cartoon characters do this shit, because we know it’s not real, but we’ve seen the actual consequences of this madness for over 20 years now, and the fact that these people are paid millions of dollars is honestly an insult to every hard-working person trying to eke out an honest living in this world.
The complete lack of necessity for this version is apparent even within the trailer. Steve-O comments that if you’re going to get a concussion, it’s best to do so before you turn 50, “and [Johnny] Knoxville’s 49, so we’re good.” Yeah, Johnny suffered actual brain damage during one of the stunts this time. Another shot shows two young participants gushing about the fact that they’re in the movie after being fans of the television program as kids. So despite the legally-mandated disclaimers that were put in after people severely injured themselves imitating the show, there are people who actually aspired to this, and the movie is apparently celebrating this. Fuck. Me.
And look, I’m not made of stone. I can laugh at some of this stuff, and people like Knoxville and Eric Andre are legitimately funny people outside of this bullshit. But even the stuff that might elicit a genuine chuckle is manufactured and manipulated. For example, I giggled ever so slightly at a clip where a cyclist pedals at full speed into what was revealed to be a taut curtain with a printout of the road on it, much like the old Coyote and Road Runner cartoons. But when you stop to think about it for two seconds (something many of the people involved in this are incapable of doing), the bit doesn’t actually work, because the illusion of the false wall only works from the angle at which it was shot, which is not the angle that the rider approaches, meaning he’s fully aware of what’s about to happen, and he’s just pretending to be surprised. Really it’s just a doofus slamming himself into a surface for cheap laughs.
This is how far MTV has fallen. I’m not even talking about the old “they don’t play music anymore” argument that’s gone on for a good two decades now. Even when they weren’t playing music, the network used to be about counter-culture, giving voice to America’s youth, and exploring the sillier elements of our society through a satirical, yet sympathetic lens. Even the dumbest shows like Beavis & Butt-Head were meant to be examples of how NOT to behave, lest you fuck up your entire life. Yes, the characters are hilarious, but they’re also animated cautionary tales. However, somewhere along the line, the likes of Jackass, The Real World, Jersey Shore, and all their other bullshit morphed the network from a platform for young people to assert their agency into one that simply condones and outright endorses the worst kinds of behavior, and that teaches their viewers to expect a life without consequences. There’s a reason that their 40th anniversary last year was just a 24-hour marathon of Ridiculousness, because it’s the closest thing they have to actual content these days.
The actions of the Jackass crew over the years should have served as a lesson in modern Darwinism. Every time they try to march sideways on a treadmill or cover themselves with honey and salmon in the presence of a bear, to paraphrase Jeff Goldblum, nature is selecting them for extinction. Instead dedicated medical personnel are forced to go in and save/reassemble these people every time, so that they can continue destroying themselves in a latter-day circus sideshow. The very tagline for this movie is, “Some people never learn.” This apparently holds true not just for the participants, but for MTV, movie studios, and the audience that somehow enjoys this.
Moonfall – February 4
Next time you’re out at the movies, play a little game with your friends during the trailers. Amongst yourselves, come up with some kind of signal – preferably a silent one so as not to annoy other patrons – when you figure out who the director is of a particular film.
For Moonfall, it took exactly seven seconds to know that this was gonna be some Roland Emmerich bullshit. Only he would frame a potentially cataclysmic event with an urgent message undercut by a cheesy “free bagels” joke.
Yup, this is yet another doomsday disaster film where somehow every major city on the planet is destroyed by some big CGI thing. This time it’s the Moon, only it’s not the Moon, because we never had one. This is somehow central to the film’s plot, that our natural satellite is not natural at all, it has somehow been knocked out of orbit, and is now on a collision course with Earth. And who ends up being the only person to see this coming? A conspiracy theorist played by John Bradley from Game of Thrones. Somehow, inexplicably, the likes of Halle Berry, Donald Sutherland, and Michael Peña get dragged into this as well.
The only remotely intriguing part of this picture is the fact that it’s technically an independent film despite its $140 million budget, making it one of the most expensive – if not the most expensive – indies ever. Sadly, to look at that trailer, it’s clear none of that money went to making passable effects, as the CGI looks more dated than 2012.
There is at least hope for the future, because Emmerich essentially had to write, direct, produce, and largely fund this project himself, which means Hollywood is apparently catching on to how terrible his films are. I’m sure he’s a nice guy, and his advocacy for the LGBTQ community is laudable, but that doesn’t mean he gets a pass on putting out one bomb after another. Look over his filmography. What is there that’s actually enjoyable? Well, you have the campy beat-em-up Universal Soldier, the retroactively essential Stargate because of the TV spinoff, and Independence Day, which is one of the perfect ’90s movies. The effects also looked more realistic in that now 25-year-old film than the ones for this one do, mostly because Emmerich had to use actual models and practical pyrotechnics back then.
The Long Night – February 4
Oof, this upcoming weekend does not look to be a good one, folks. I guess, watch the Olympics instead? Here we have the worst looking horror attempt for the month, filled to the brim with just about every genre cliché in the book. You’ve got jump scares, a cult, snakes, creaking doors, and monumentally bad line readings. As far as the plot, it looks like it’s cribbing from the likes of The Purge, Rosemary’s Baby, and even the fucking Babadook.
There’s really not much else to say. It looks generic, boring, and beyond derivative. The only shred of hope is that Jeff Fahey is in it, and even that just means I might see it due to lingering affection for his character from LOST, which I’m sure will not come into play whatsoever.
The Sky is Everywhere – February 11
Hey, you know what they say about grief? The best way to deal with it is a love triangle!
Based on the “beloved novel,” according to the trailer – which only begs questions about who loves it, and what criteria determines “beloved” status – the story is about a teenager whose older sister dies. She loses the ability to play music because of her grief (a theme covered much better by Belle mere weeks ago) until she gets a lady boner for a cute guy in her school band. If the movie stopped there, you’d have an annoying, but inoffensive teen romance. But then she goes ahead and starts dating/pining/boinking her dead sister’s boyfriend/fiancé. “I want to live like my sister did,” exclaims lead actress Grace Kaufman. Well, based on this, your sister was a two-timing whore, so I wouldn’t exactly consider this a goal.
There’s nothing likable or interesting about this character, and the trailer sets up a story where no matter what horrible thing she does, or how she toys with two young men’s hearts, it’ll be forgiven within the context of “ME SAAAAAAAAD!” Not helping matters, the trailer itself is filled with cheesy tropes set to a mediocre love song, including entry-level animation/animatronics, lines like “Do you believe in signs?” (the answer is yes, it was a 2002 film by M. Night Shyamalan; I very much believe it exists), and insipid onscreen text platitudes like “Fall in love” and “Find yourself.” You’ll find me nowhere near any theatre showing this, and I’ll love that fact. NEXT!
Uncharted – February 18
I’m a fan of Ryan George from Screen Rant, and after seeing this trailer… let’s just say I can already see the “Pitch Meeting” video for when this comes out.
So, you have a movie for me?
Yes sir, I do! So you know how everyone loves Tom Holland as Spider-Man?
Of course I do! He’s fantastic!
Yeah yeah yeah, so I was thinking we put him in a video game movie!
Oh, you want to make a movie out of one of the Spider-Man movies? Those are really popular, and we even did a video game out of the Miles Morales Spider-Verse franchise!
No, I was thinking we’d make an Uncharted movie and have him be Nathan Drake!
Isn’t Nathan Drake a grizzled old adventurer in his mid-to-late 40s?
And isn’t Tom Holland 25 and always looking like he’s 16?
So how’s that going to work?
Well we’re gonna also cast Mark Wahlberg, a 50-year-old man who perpetually looks 35, and have them do barely passable age jokes at each other.
And we’re gonna have Antonio Banderas be the bad guy but just have him do his Puss in Boots voice the whole time!
Oh, boot-clad pussies are tight! So what happens in the movie?
Well they’re gonna look for a treasure that’s worth billions of dollars and has never been found even though everyone seems to have a map to its exact location!
And we’re gonna have fight scenes where Tom Holland swings from hanging lights so he can be all Spider-Man without having to pay a royalty!
You know we at Sony own both the Uncharted series through PlayStation and the rights to the Spider-Man character right? We can just do a Spider-Man movie if you want.
And then at one point Tom Holland is going to fall out of a cargo plane.
And then a whole bunch of cargo is gonna fall out as well, plus some henchmen, and then he’s gonna get hit by a car in mid-air! And it’ll be really funny because the car will honk right before it hits him.
Kind of weird for someone to be sitting in a car as it’s dropped out of a plane, isn’t it?
Oh there’s no one in the car.
Then who honks the horn?
So Tom Holland, some bad guys, a whole bunch of cargo, and a car are falling through the air. I imagine it’s going to be pretty hard to survive a massive freefall like that.
Actually it’s gonna be super easy, barely an inconvenience.
Yeah, see Nathan’s going to just climb on top of all the falling cargo which is somehow staying relatively level with the altitude of the plane and then jump back on.
He’s going to jump from a falling pallet of cargo onto a moving plane?
Don’t planes fly at something like 300 miles per hour?
So is the plane like, circling around him?
No it’s very clearly flying in a straight line away from his position.
And yet he can horizontally and vertically jump to catch up and re-board?
That’s what we’re going with!
This is why video game movies almost always turn out terrible.
And with that, we reach the bottom of February’s barrel, The Worst Trailer in the World… This Month. As the first official trailer to receive this dubious honor (since last month I opted to playfully mock the AMC Nicole Kidman ad rather than single out one of the actual trailers because everything sucked), I present to you the least self-aware “romance” you could possibly imagine.
Marry Me – February 11
Okay, now to clean that taste out of my mouth with this month’s Redemption Reel! Since February is somehow giving us more horror than love, I thought it only fitting to take a look at an ironic exercise in both.
Studio 666 – February 25
Now, even if I wasn’t a lifelong fan of the Foo Fighters, I’d have put this trailer here. This is the perfect amount of silly for someone like me, someone who will definitely need a break from the Oscar Blitz by the end of the month, an opportunity to turn off my brain and just enjoy something delightfully stupid.
This looks like B-movie bonkers madness at its finest. This is one of those times where you just go completely balls to the wall and just do crazy shit. Go all the way with it and fully commit to the insanity, and it appears that Dave Grohl and company are giddily game for it all.
In preparation for the band’s 10th studio album (last year’s “Medicine at Midnight,” which as a fan I’d rank 4th overall in their discography), the group moves into an isolated, creepy-looking mansion that happens to have great acoustics… and a ton of spirits and demons lurking about. Slowly, Dave is consumed by evil as he copes with his writer’s block until he goes completely apeshit, transforming into some kind of monster and killing his bandmates in hilarious fashion, including apparently decapitating Taylor Hawkins with one of his own cymbals.
This not only has the earmarks of a well-made horror film (the editing within the trailer is very strong, with potential for some very rare proper use of jump scares), but it’s also clear that this is a love letter to the genre. So not only will the comedic kills be righteous, they will also likely be in service of something surprisingly poignant on a meta level by the time it’s over. Grohl is credited with coming up with the idea, and it’s obvious the whole group had an absolute blast making this secret side project in the actual house where they recorded “Medicine at Midnight.”
This will probably be the most madcap, out there movie of the year, and I am here for it. Sometimes you just have to go crazy with an idea to make it work, and this seems like it’ll be just that.
Join the conversation in the comments below! Are you planning to see any of these films? What do you think will be next month’s worst trailer? Is there a musical act you’d like to see make a self-parody movie? Let me know!