After highlighting the best films of 2023, let’s look back at the worst.

5. The Exorcist: Believer

Rotten Tomatoes score: 22% (critics), 59% (audience)

Streaming on: Peacock

Why does Hollywood love horror movies? They’re cheap to make. You don’t need stars. And audiences generally are willing to give them a try, no matter how dreadful they might be. The Exorcist: Believer is the most successful terrible film of 2023. It cracked the top 35 for worldwide box office gross, hauling in over $135 million on a tiny budget of $30 million. The drawing power of intellectual property helped overcome a lousy script. The original The Exorcist (1973) remains one of the most terrifying films ever made. The Exorcist: Believer is just a messy collection of jump scares and callbacks. What’s truly frightening? We’re going to get another Exorcist film in 2025

4. Expend4bles

Rotten Tomatoes score: 14% (critics), 71% (audience)

Available for rent on: Apple TV, Amazon, YouTube

Sylvester Stallone is barely in Expend4bles which is all you need to know about a franchise that has surpassed its expiration date. There have been reports that creative differences led to Stallone’s diminished role. Whatever the reason, the finished product is lousy with bad CGI, easy-to-spot ridiculous plot twists, and terrible acting. The entire movie feels like it was conceived and directed by AI. All of this would be forgivable if the experience was fun. Instead, Expend4bles is tired and worn out. Not even the new additions of 50 Cent, Megan Fox, and Andy García can save this train wreck. At least Jason Statham is back to do Jason Statham things.

3. Fool’s Paradise

Rotten Tomatoes score: 18% (critics), 38% (audience)

Streaming on: Hulu

Available for rent on: Apple TV, Amazon, YouTube

Charlie Day’s directorial debut was a huge swing and a miss. It also goes to show that there’s a difference between having a good idea and turning that idea into a good film. Day, who also wrote the screenplay, made a satire about how the Hollywood machine can turn anyone into an actor. Day plays an unnamed mute and former mental institution patient who through a set of fortunate circumstances becomes a rising star. The plot seems intriguing. However, Fool’s Paradise is filled with inside jokes that most of the audience won’t get or care about. After a while, it just feels heavy-handed and empty.

2. You People

Rotten Tomatoes score: 40% (critics), 34% (audience)

Streaming on: Netflix

It takes quite an effort to make two of the funniest people on the planet sound so mind-numbingly unfunny. Eddie Murphy and Jonah Hill are not only (usually) hilarious, they’re Oscar-nominated actors. Some of the blame must go to Hill, who cowrote and coproduced this Netflix feature along with director Kenya Barris. Imagine a modern version of Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner but without the charm. Too many scenes are at best cringeworthy, at worst offensive. You People doesn’t offer anything fresh. Instead, it prods the viewer with stereotypes and begs you to laugh at tropes that were outdated 20 years ago.

1. Beau Is Afraid

Rotten Tomatoes score: 67% (critics), 71% (audience)

Available for rent on: Apple TV, Amazon, YouTube

Something can be artistic, ambitious, and awful. Ari Aster belched out his most divisive film yet. While Midsommar and Hereditary were fascinating, Beau Is Afraid is a tedious snoozer that will destroy your will to live. Its three-hour run time seems more like three days. You keep waiting and hoping it gets better as Aster drags the audience from one preposterous scene to another. This supposed horror film from A24 isn’t scary at all. It’s a failed art school project with a $35-million budget. When it’s over, you’re left wondering what the hell just happened. Take heart. You’ll also feel like Andy Dufresne after he crawled through sewage to finally escape.  

About Michael Grant

Born in Jamaica. Grew up in New York City. Lives in Louisville, Ky. Sports writer. Not related to Ulysses S. Grant, Anthony Grant, Amy Grant or Hugh Grant.