Little can sink a movie scene quicker than a botched performance from an actor. Even in sequences with poor direction, bad lighting or unconvincing CGI, the drama can be salvaged if audiences believe in the characters they're watching. Without that investment though, the whole thing can come tumbling down.
While there has been many a good movie housing bad performances across the history of cinema, there's nothing worse than when a usually good actor, who might have even been solid for the preceding runtime of a movie, completely misses the mark during the scene where they really needed to nail it.
Sadly, no matter the quality of the rest of the film, these are often the moments that fans come out of the cinema talking about for years to come. After all, there's a good chance the one thing you remember from The Dark Knight Rises is Marion Cotillard's pitiful display as her character took her final breaths, right?
The following cases follow the same logic: great scenes that are almost completely derailed by an actor who just isn't quite on the ball.
8. Annabelle Wallis - Malignant
A couple of weeks after seeing it, I'm still not entirely sure which parts of Malignant were supposed to be hammy and kinda bad on purpose, and which parts were the result of regular old bad filmmaking.
You see, that's partly because James Wan's latest is a big, daft B-Movie, full of crazy, bloody set-pieces and a whole bunch of references to similarly outlandish Giallo movies from decades past.
Lead Annabelle Wallis for the most part does an admirable job attempting to thread the needle of this precarious tone, and manages to nail most of the emotional beats. Where she falls down though is the climactic sequences where - vague spoilers incoming - she vanquishes the evil that's been causing so much trouble for the rest of the film.
This confrontation is supposed to be epic, but Wallis kind of seems just a bit annoyed rather than seething, and it undermines some of the horror the ending otherwise could have had.
With the entire cast often going from over-the-top to flat in a second, it's unclear who's at fault for the strange acting choices across the board: the director, the actors, the script, or all three?