"Fifty Shades Darker" review roundup: Critics don't go easy on sequel

“Fifty Shades Darker” is hitting theaters, and the vast majority of film critics are hitting back.

Audience anticipation is definitely high, with its trailer briefly holding the YouTube record for the most views in 24 hours. But with 125 reviews posted to Rotten Tomatoes, the steamy sequel had scored a fresh rating of just 9 percent, a stern warning for viewers to steer clear this weekend. 

Matt Singer at Screencrush dubbed it “a movie only a masochist could love,” while Newsday’s Rafer Guzman called it “breathtakingly, pulse-poundingly bad.”

“It’s a female-driven fantasy, for sure, but that doesn’t mean it’s not toxic,” wrote Katie Rife at the AV Club. “And God help the poor woman who believes it.”

At least CNN’s Brian Lowry was trying to look on the bright side: “The frequent use of musical montages -- as trite and heavy-handed as they are -- comes across as something of a relief, simply because during those stretches, nobody’s talking,” he wrote.

Even the nominally positive reviews seemed more than a little cautious, with the San Francisco Chronicle’s Mark LaSalle offering, “In some weird way it really is good, even as it bypasses sense, reason and a viewer’s intelligence.”

Time’s Stephanie Zacharek, meanwhile, warned, “To call it a lousy movie is missing the point.”