Cinema can do incredible things to an audience. It can thrill with action, woo with romance and tickle with comedy and also suck pretty hard at times, though popular opinion can really be divided sometimes. It’s like there’s almost a sub-genre of films that have the ability to completely polarise their audiences.
If you’ve ever loved a film that critics have panned or walked out of an Oscar-nominated blockbuster hit in disgust then there’s a chance you might find it on this list. There’s also a good chance you won’t find it on this list, in which case you should probably stick it in the comments at the end of this post so the rest of us can check it out.
There’s no middle ground here – you’re either going to love it or hate it.
Beyond The Black Rainbow (2010)
Brave, belligerent, self-absorbed sci-fi nonsense with stunning cinematography, a convincing cast and watery dialogue, Beyond the Black Rainbow is truly the epitome of a polarising film. It’s one of those movies where half the audience will spend most of the film trying to work out exactly what’s going on while the rest will gawp slack-jawed at the action unfolding on the screen. Maybe only a quarter of the audience will love it, with a good half tempted to give up half-way through.
It’s incredibly difficult to even loosely sum up what is a rather disjointed and perplexing sci-fi thriller from writer and director Panos Cosmatos, but I’ll just say it involves a big bad dystopian future corp, a young girl under heavy sedation and a borderline psychotic “evil genius” character. If you like brooding synth, shallow depth of field and being confused then do all you can to find this film.
A.I. Artificial Intelligence (2001)
I’ve never walked out of a movie theatre before, instead preferring to stay and endure the steaming pile in front of me and at least “get my money’s worth” before leaving. AI was undoubtedly the closest I have come to walking out of a cinema in my life, as I watched people in the rows in front leave at around the 2-hour mark.
AI is the bastard child of Stanley Kubrick who had been working on the concept since the 70s. The film was in fact handed over to Steven Spielberg in 1995, but remained stagnant until Kubrick sadly passed away in 1999. The film generally received good reviews, but for my money it was way too long and uninteresting.
Wrong is a film that looks like it was created just to be different, to completely break the rules of traditional cinema and instead of building a careful story full of believable characters, interactions and emotion it tries to blow your mind. The film itself tells the tale of a man who wakes up only to find he has lost his dog. The rest of the film is spent following the quest for Paul the dog which plays out like some unending psychedelic experience in which you wonder if you’ll ever feel normal again.
Perhaps Wrong isn’t quite as polarising as some of the other films on this list but there will certainly be a divide in the audience between those who love being thrown into the back of a crazy van and driven around town for a few hours and others who don’t see the need to create such an extremely warped universe that leaves the viewer with such a sense of unease.
Sex Drive (2008)
I almost hate myself for putting this film on the list, but then again I suppose that’s the point. Never before have I taken to such a laddish tale of balls-first masculinity, and never before have I laughed quite so hard at a series of Amish jokes. With a name like Sex Drive I was ready to completely hate this film when it first came out, but there are subtle flashes of brilliance starting with the credits, which to this day stick in my mind for some unknown reason.
The real saviour is Seth Green, so it goes without saying that if you’re not a fan of the actor, Robot Chicken or Chris’ character from Family Guy then you probably won’t feel the same. The jokes are dry, barely conscious quips laced with passive aggression and delivered on a silver plate. At a push I’d still call this a “bad” film, with some incredibly redeeming comedy thrown in.
The Sixth Sense (1999)
As I write this I’m struggling to see how this M. Night Shyamalan film has scored an 8.2 on IMDB, been nominated for 37 awards and walked off with another 32. In my opinion this is a terrible film with a predictable “something will happen at some point!” storyline that on careful repeat watchings barely makes sense in parts. It’s rather hard to talk about this one without a spoiler or two, so give this last paragraph a miss if you’ve not seen it (or better still, don’t watch it).
The symbolism of a certain colour is not so much subtly hinting at a twist rather than jamming it down your throat. Recent productions have clearly demonstrated that subtlety is not M. Night Shyamalan’s forte, and this film should have been a warning shot. You might love it, but I sure know a lot of people who didn’t.
A dark and very strange tale of a man struggling with his wife and newly born mutant child… thing. Eraserhead is part horror part psychotic break which will leave you wondering what you’ve just watched. One thing is for sure: you will not forget this film, whether it’s because you loved how disconnected from reality it was or because you quickly grew tired of the increasingly bizarre plot.
Being a David Lynch film it is of course intended to conjure a sense of foreboding, loneliness and misery. At least, thats how I interpreted it, though everyone will take something different from this film; and it won’t all be good things either. The film drags at points, but it also drags you through a filed of emotion and despair and you’re either going to love it or hate it from the outset.
Have I completely missed the mark? Do you love these films? Are they all rubbish? Any others that should be on the list? Tell me how wrong I am in the comments, below!