Now that 2013 is but a faded stain on the carpet, I thought I’d take this time to clean out ye old septic tank and take one last opportunity to revel in the shit of 2013. As a whole, the year was blighted with more mediocrity than outright wretchedness; a blessing for those keeping track at home on Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic, but a curse for people who sit through endless hours of repetitive drivel. So even though I’m about to take a massive dump on all of the following works, I’m truly grateful to have been able to outright hate instead of grudgingly tolerate something last year.
Worst movie: Personal Tailor
I hated, hated, hated Aftershock – Feng Xiaogang trying to make the cinematic equivalent of Pearl Harbor for China without an ounce of Michael Bay’s visual panache – but it never gave me cause to suspect Feng is actually a completely empty hack. Then came Personal Tailor, much like Fat Man came to Nagasaki.
If it had only been a shitty comedy, I wouldn’t have given it much thought, but Personal Tailor really sets out to be as unpleasant as humanely possible. In addition to a simultaneously nonsensical and derivative premise, Personal Tailor traffics in broad, maudlin emotions and sub-mantle brow humor that it comes across as a petulant, possibly autistic child. Feng has tried defending his movie as a “satire,” but the level of “satire” in Personal Tailor would embarrass even the Animal Practice writing staff. Its idea of political satire is to reference half a year old headlines. Its idea of cultural critique is to jam a painfully long and out of place epilogue featuring actors looking out at the scenery and apologizing for pollution.
Were it not for a genuinely great last line, Personal Tailor would have tied Prom for being the worst movie I have ever seen. Feng lacks the self-awareness to realize how insincere and generally abysmal his movie is. Feng is the director that his film tries unsuccessfully to make fun of, perhaps a half-baked stab at self-deprecation, in the movie’s second vignette. He’s trying so hard to be an artist, yet we’re the ones suffering for his art.
Worst video game: The second 2/3s of Outlast
I feel bad for shitting on Outlast, a fairly respectable indie game with some real horror chops early on, but the last two-thirds of Outlast really sucks. At the start, Outlast succeeds wildly in terrifying the player, expertly making use of its setting and found-footage aesthetic to create some nightmarish images and pee-inducing jump scares. But then, the developers run out of ideas about 1 hour in, around the time players realize they can sprint past everything with little punishment.
What’s a horror game to do when it stops being scary? In this case, tell an uninteresting and increasingly convoluted story while trying hard to repackage and recycle old jump scares. Outlast blows its ghoulish wad far too early on, and mistakenly assumes that it can coast on the terrifying fumes for a good 2 or so hours more. Instead, Outlast just becomes frustratingly dull and often idiotic.
Worst episode of TV: “Conventions of Space and Time”
I made fun of Animal Practice earlier for being shit, but even it can’t compete with Conventions of Space and Time. As a guy who liked season 4 of Community a touch more than most, this was appalling.