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I watched every movie with an F Cinemascore to see if audiences were right - were there any misunderstood gems?

22 movies have received an F Cinemascore from opening weekend US audiences since the beginning of the service in the 1980s. I've ranked and rated each one. Was it worth my time? Probably not but I love doing silly, unique little Letterboxd challenges and there were a few titles worth checking out.

  • mother! (2017) - 10/10. This Darren Aronofsky-directed drama was divisive on release due to its disturbing content but I think it's a masterpiece. The acting is fantastic, the themes of the film are not subtle but they are effectively presented and it is exactly as shocking as intended.

  • Bug (2006) - 8/10. "The Exorcist" director William Friedkin adapted this play by Tracy Letts into a very disturbing and effective horror drama. The actors commit 100% and Ashley Judd in particular gives the best performance I've seen from her.

  • I Know Who Killed Me (2007) - 8/10. Lindsay Lohan's cheesy star vehicle is the only movie on this list that I think crosses the line into "so bad it's good" camp. Truly bizarre choices are made throughout and it is exceptionally entertaining.

  • Wolf Creek (2005) - 7/10. This Australian horror confounds expectations with its realistic depiction of sadistic violence. I imagine the movie lost audiences with its slow build-up but I bought into the characters and was engaged. The sequel is even better!

  • In The Cut (2003) - 7/10. Meg Ryan subverts her star persona as an English teacher who finds herself entangled in an investigation into a series of murders. This one doesn't deliver the pulpy thrills audiences might want but it is smart, engaging and offers a fresh perspective on the erotic thriller.

  • Killing Them Softly (2012) - 6/10. You have to imagine this only got a wide release as a result of Brad Pitt's presence in a main role because this doesn't have any mainstream appeal. A depressing but effective condemnation of US society, this isn't one for everyone but it could pack a punch for those who can get on its wavelength.

  • Dr T and The Women (2000) - 6/10. This overstuffed but fitfully effective comedy drama boasts a great cast headed by Richard Gere. Only some of the plotlines work but it holds together decently until its truly insane ending that doesn't fit well with what came before.

  • The Grudge (2020) - 5/10. A gross and messy horror remake that I nevertheless think is overhated. It has some stylish moments, strong direction and the gore VFX are top notch.

  • Darkness (2002) - 5/10. Harvey Weinstein ripped this movie apart in the edit and audiences hated the watered-down PG-13 theatrical cut. I watched the unrated version which restores a lot of context and thematic exploration lost in the other version. Although the film is a bit generic, it has some effective scares and is more entertaining than the F rating suggests.

  • The Box (2009) - 5/10. Director Richard Kelly (Donnie Darko, Southland Tales) is an acquired taste but this weird drama almost makes up for its flawed execution with bold and unique creative choices. Sadly, the film can only go so far in the face of poor acting and a ridiculous storyline.

  • Solaris (2002) - 5/10. Steven Soderbergh's remake of the classic 1972 has some stellar acting and posits some interesting ideas, but ultimately it can't overcome its glacial placing and lack of energy which left me bored me throughout.

  • Silent House (2011) - 5/10. Three directors are credited on this "great in concept, poor in execution" horror, which is never a good sign. The ending of this one is a howler which let's down any goodwill built up by the film's tense atmosphere.

  • Lost Souls (2000) - 4/10. This is the last film on the list before we get into the truly terrible stuff. Winona Ryder gives a strange performance here that contributes to the overheated, cheesy vibe from the beginning. By the end, I just thought that the film overall was very mediocre and generic.

  • Alone in the Dark (2005) - 3/10. At no point did I understand what was going on in this convoluted mess of a movie. Still, it gets a few bonus points for being silly and fun. I was never bored and the movie had a few genuine laughs. Also the acting is nowhere near as bad as people say!

  • Eye of the Beholder (1999) - 3/10. Ashley Judd does The Most in every scene in this movie and I have no idea if it was a great performance or a terrible one. Otherwise, this detective thriller was extremely creepy (in the wrong type of way) and Ewan McGregor gives his worst performance.

  • The Turning (2020) - 2/10. Does this movie have the worst ending ever made? Possibly, and the rest isn't much better. The acting is strong but nothing else comes together in this ridiculous thriller.

  • The Wicker Man (2006) - 2/10. So many quotable lines for all the wrong reasons but the experience of watching the movie is actually rather tiresome. All the unintentional comedy is in the last act and before that, the film is poorly acted and a complete hatchet job of the original story.

  • Lucky Numbers (2000) - 2/10. A heist comedy starring John Travolta and Lisa Kudrow directed by Nora Ephron? What could go wrong? Basically everything. I think this is the worst movie that could be made with that concept and that creative team. This one also loses points for being the most boring out of a very boring lineup - I actually fell asleep watching it

  • The Devil Inside (2012) - 1/10. The cop-out non-ending of this one is perhaps the only rival to The Turning. Perhaps the most egregious thing of all is that they haven't bothered to maintain the website that supposedly answers the questions left unfinished. A total waste of time.

  • Disaster Movie (2007) - 1/10. I liked this when I saw it in the cinema when I was 9 and that says it all. Kim Kardashian cameos and dated celebrity references don't make for good comedy.

  • Fear Dot Com (2002) - 1/10. So I'm not sure if this one is actually worse than the two above, but it's definitely more of a mess. This big-budget horror movie is incompetent on every level. It is ugly, too long, poorly acted, badly shot, badly edited, not scary and boring.

  • Bolero (1984) - 0/10. The most irredeemable piece of garbage on this list. The Bo Derek-starring "erotic" movie is so insulting, unsexy and stupid that it beggers belief. However, the thing that makes it the absolute worst of the bunch is the inclusion of sexualised full-frontal nude scenes from then 14-year old Olivia d'Abo. Don't look up how old Bo Derek was when she met John Derek, the director. Yuck.

Overall, the movies fell into five main categories that explain their F ratings:

  • Secretly worth your time, but divisive or subverts expectations: mother!, Bug, Wolf Creek, Killing Me Softly, In The Cut.

  • Let down by a bad ending: Dr T and the Women, Silent House, The Turning, The Grudge

  • Entertaining for the wrong reasons: I Know Who Killed Me, The Wicker Man, Alone in the Dark, Eye of the Beholder

  • Boring: Darkness, Solaris, Lost Souls, The Box, Lucky Numbers

  • Irredeemably terrible: The Devil Inside, Disaster Movie, Fear Dot Com, Bolero.

So that's the full list. I'd probably only recommend the top 6 but everything down to 13 has some good things going for it. I would say that audiences were often on the money with hating these movies, but in a few special cases, the marketing department mis-selling their product let down some genuinely good work.

If you'd like more detail on the movies listed, see the full list here: https://boxd.it/dWsJs

Edit: Thank you for the great feedback on this post. I'm glad it's generating so much discussion. Nothing I've written has ever had so much attention and it's crazy to think that more people have upvoted this post than have ever logged many of these movies in Letterboxd. I am very grateful!

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