​Exclaim!'s 10 Most Disappointing Films of 2023

BY Exclaim! StaffPublished Dec 8, 2023

Expectation and hype can be a real killer of joy — something that's particularly true when it comes to film. Whether it's Adam Driver fighting dinosaurs, a "realistic" take on a Disney classic or a deep-dive into the GameStop stock fiasco, every year, there are movies that don't quite hit the mark that their potential promises. 

We're not mad, we're just disappointed. 

The most disappointing films of 2023 are below. Read about Exclaim!'s favourite films and music of 2023 here.

10. The Creator
(20th Century Studios)
Directed by Gareth Edwards

It's not that The Creator is a bad film; it has an intriguing premise set in a highly imaginative, visually stunning world. John David Washington and Madeleine Yuna Voyles make for a heartwarming and absorbing one-two punch, and Gemma Chan lends a grace to the warring surroundings. Even the main theme (artificial intelligence is bad) is topical and thought-provoking, with robots as the enemy and threatening to be the demise of humanity. But ultimately, The Creator feels like a lesser-than version of a multitude of films we've seen before. And for all that thinkpiece potential, nothing fresh or compelling is ever gained — just a 2D Avatar without the blue people.
Rachel Ho

9. Reptile
Directed by Grant Singer

In a year in which David Fincher made his return to the thriller genre, music video director Grant Singer tried to make the leap into features with this pastiche of Gone Girl and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. With a dull grey filter on the lens, comically eerie sound design and paper-thin characters who exist for no other reason than to be suspicious, the shallow Reptile had TIFF viewers openly laughing at the silliness during its premiere.
Alex Hudson

8. The Little Mermaid
(Walt Disney Pictures)
Directed by Rob Marshall

Despite the promises of its aggressive marketing campaign, Disney's The Little Mermaid remake is aggressively mediocre, overly long and lacking the energy necessary to keep audiences engaged. Even viewed independently from the original, it's a middling, uninspired film. Ironically, the very movie that launched the House of Mouse's "renaissance" period may be the final dagger in their extremely lucrative photo-realistic remake coffin. As lifeless and bloated as Ursula's corpse by the movie's end, The Little Mermaid offers little to justify its existence — let alone its almost $300 million price tag.
Sarah Bea

7. 65
(Sony Pictures)
Directed by Scott Beck and Bryan Woods

There's a particular type of movie that's delightfully mindless and generic. Our bar for these movies is incredibly low; we just need it to cheer us up after a tough work week or amuse us on a lazy weekend. Disaster sci-fi 65, which has space pilot Adam Driver crashing into an alien planet 65 million years ago, is exactly this kind of movie, and truly, the idea of Driver battling dinosaurs and aliens is inspired. The problem with 65 is just how half-baked every aspect (save for Driver) feels. The action scenes are uninspired, the effects are bleak and tired, and the story fails to deliver on any of the potential fun. 
Rachel Ho

6. The Flash
(Warner Bros. Pictures)
Directed by Andy Muschietti

With Marvel floundering, 2022's The Batman was one of the best superhero movies in recent memory, and The Flash was meant to keep up the momentum for the DC Universe. In 2022, however, star Ezra Miller was disgraced following a series of incidents, including harassment charges and grooming allegations. Too late to reshoot, and having already cost too much to be abandoned, The Flash went ahead as planned and unsurprisingly bombed — a rare case when a film is disappointing before even arriving in cinemas.
Alex Hudson

5. Ghosted
(Apple TV+)
Directed by Dexter Fletcher

The premise of Ghosted is as generic as they come, but no one was looking for this to be Citizen Kane — all that was asked of a film like this was to deliver some entertainment, of which there was none. All I wanted from Ghosted was a sexy action-thriller with Chris Evans and Ana de Armas looking beautiful. The latter of course was true, how could it not be? But how a rom-com adventure movie with two proven movie stars (who have already proved their magnetic chemistry in Knives Out) can be so sterile and limp is almost impressive. 
Rachel Ho

4. Flamin' Hot
Directed by Eva Longoria

(Searchlight Pictures)

I think we've all had enough of the "product origin story" genre of movies, as Hollywood has spent the last couple of years celebrating capitalism with nostalgic tributes to Air Jordan, Tetris and Beanie Babies. Even if the company itself hadn't already debunked the story of the janitor who supposedly invented spicy Cheetos, Flamin' Hot would still be a laughably unrealistic insult to everyone living under capitalism, with its depictions of kindly CEOs and low-level employees who give standing ovations to their managers.
Alex Hudson

3. Fingernails
(Apple TV+)
Directed by Christos Nikou

Describing the premise of Fingernails would have anyone cock an eyebrow with intrigue — and the first 45 minutes or so of the film delivers on its promise. A world where being in love can be empirically certified by testing the fingernails of individuals for compatibility presents an almost satirical reality not entirely removed from the algorithm-laden dating world of today. As with Christos Nikou's previous films, the world of Fingernails is fully realized and grounded, but unlike his previous outings, it takes a generic turn that leaves the film desperately wanting.
Rachel Ho

2. The Exorcist: Believer
(Universal Pictures)
Directed by David Gordon Green

Every word written about this stale-bread-dipped-in-unseasoned-chicken-noodle-soup of a film would be more consideration than it deserves. Following two girls who become possessed for absolutely no good reason, it has the gall to bring back Ellen Burstyn and Linda Blair in a bloated and frankly offensive attempt to justify its existence. There's literally nothing good about this movie. The Exorcist: Believer is the filmic equivalent of the experience of underestimating a fart.
Alisha Mughal

1. Dumb Money
(Elevation Pictures)
Directed by Craig Gillespi

Dumb Money was far from the year's worst film (it wasn't even the worst film at TIFF 2023, where it premiered), but by golly did it ever waste its potential. The script lacks basic insight into the very broken economic system that allowed the GameStop stock to be co-opted by Redditors wanting to force a "short squeeze." Instead, the comedy opts for a feel-good Robin Hood narrative that venerates counterculture millennials looking to make a quick buck against evil, money-grubbing venture capitalists., who are also looking to make a quick buck. What should have been a razor-sharp satire on capitalism and greed was instead a forgettable comedy with little substance.
Sarah Bea

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