In addition to being one of the most anticipated films of the season, “The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo” is also marketing itself somewhat subversively: as the “feel bad movie” of the year, something sure to put a damper on your Christmas morning. With a plot heavy on rape and murder, it’s definitely not fun for the whole family.
But “Tattoo” wouldn’t be the first inappropriate holiday movie, not by a long shot. For families really upset about the way their annual Yankee Swap turned out, there’s a long history of violent and messed up films being released on Christmas weekend. Below, our top five picks for the worst way to spend a Christmas afternoon.
This near three-hour long Jewish revenge film dropped on December 23rd, making it either a super empowering Hannukah movie or the worst possible Christmas family outing. Steven Spielberg’s look at Israeli retaliation for the 1972 Olympics massacre wasn’t very soft or even very exciting, instead a slow, methodical look at the lines crossed in the name of justice. It climaxes with a scene where a traumatized Eric Bana makes love to his wife while reliving the massacre in his head — definitely, definitely not the best viewing material for a post-ham glow.
“Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street”
Musicals are always a blast, right? The film adaptation of the Stephen Sondheim play was large on singing, goofy costumes and stylized drama, as well as slit throats, cannibalization and dirty fingernails. It ends horribly, too — almost everyone dies and you’re left thinking about the pointlessness of revenge, hardly a feeling for the holiday season. On the bright side, maybe a depressed family would’ve gotten off on all the gore and betrayal.
“The Talented Mr. Ripley”
With that title, this Matt Damon murder thriller sounds so whimsical — like “Fantastic Mr. Fox,” or something else quirky and fancy-free. It’s easy to see how the trailer would’ve fooled a lot of families into saddling up the ole hatchback. The voiceover is almost comically melodic, taking us through Ripley’s eventual character transformation with the lightness of an Adam Sandler comedy. If you recall, Ripley murders a bunch of people and commits massive identity fraud while leading police on an international man hunt — not that light or funny, really.
A winsome poster and ad campaign led a lot of first-lookers to think this would be another warm, fuzzy Robin Williams movie. The Genie in a clown nose! This is going to be just like “Aladdin,” right? For most of the film, it’s an uplifting journey about the power of the human spirit. That’s until Williams’ would-be lover gets murdered by an insane patient. Then he wanders around questioning the nature of God and contemplating his own suicide, which, yeesh. A somewhat happy ending couldn’t make up for parents having to explain about murder-suicides to their children.
Imagine being the kid who’d seen this historic stinker instead of “Toy Story” or “Jumanji” that Christmas Day in 1995. You’d just be so, so mad.
Tell us some of your favorite feel-bad holiday movies in the comments section and on Twitter!