Halloween movie preview
During the next four or five weeks, the megaplex screens will be dominated by horror films. Halloween themes and the horror genre breed squeals of delight, but this year the studios have been rolling out supernatural themed flicks since “The Last Exorcism” opened in late August.
“Exorcism” explores a fake preacher catering to distressed people who, for a fee, can see a demon dispatched. The tale has scares, but, for once, I’d trim the last five minutes, which opens a trivial twist that’s too predictable.
Along with the zombie blood suckers of “Resident Evil Afterlife3D,” “The Devil” (see separate review) creeps you out with a simple theme — people trapped in an elevator. One of these people trapped is the man or woman who carries a pitchfork. M. Night Shyamalan (“Sixth Sense”) has been having trouble connecting with crowds lately, so this gives the writer/producer an opportunity for a mid-course career jolt.
“Afterlife” partially abandons blood, body parts and body count in favor of a challenge to reach a possible location where the vampire/zombie virus has not yet spread. Divas take the heroism leads.
Here are the horror/thrillers scheduled for “wide” (all market) openings for October 2010. This critic hasn’t previewed these at the time of writing:
• “Let Me In” — Plagued by a trio of bullies, Owen (Kodi Smit-McPhee) has a lonely life with his newly divorced mom. However, he makes a friend when a new girl, Abby (Chloe Crace Moretz), moves next door. As it turns out, her arrival coincides with a series of seemingly Satanic murders, which prompts Abby to reveal her vampire nature to Owen. Reviewers have deemed this film “visually gorgeous, subtly acted, genuinely unnerving and a (rare) character driven horror flick.” A re-make of the Swedish “Let the Right One In,” the film has been likened to a ghoulish R-rated version of “E.T.” and rated one of 2010’s best films.
• “Case 39” — A social worker (Renee Zellweger) fights for the right home for a seemingly abused girl. But removing the child to Zellwegar’s home for temporary safety opens a terrifying door. Ian McShane (“We Are Marshall”) plays a shrink. Advance buzz is mixed. “Case 39” has been both positively and negatively compared to “Orphan.” One viewer wrote, “It’s not as slick or scary but contains enjoyable over the top trashy thrills.” Other viewers have described it as “schlocky and ridiculous,” but gleefully gruesome to cheesy, badly animated, embarrassing and overly predictable.
• “My Soul to Take”— Wes (“Nightmare on Elm Street,” “Scream,” “Hills Have Eyes”) Craven offers a 3D thriller that seems to be a hybrid of the “Scream” and “Halloween” story lines, where a “dead” serial killer returns to his hometown to kill seven kids born the night he supposedly met his maker. Has an 89 percent Rotten Tomatoes rating.
Buried stars Ryan Reynolds as a U.S. contractor left buried alive in Iraq. Inside the coffin he has but a lighter and a cell phone. Can he escape the claustrophobic and slow death? The flick played the Sundance Film Festival and one reviewer praised a “superbly convincing performance by Reynolds that leaves you gasping for air until the end.”
• “Paranormal Activity II (3D),” whose low budget original earned its way to a wide release through midnight sell outs and Internet demand for screenings, has been held close to the vest by Paramount. However, two viral videos, each containing a few seconds of the sequel, have been posted. They feature a baby, a crib, a girl and some kind of demon, ghost or other supernatural entity in one frame. Another one has mom and dad leaving the baby in a crib with a dog and something else in the room. The German shepherd leaves after an entity intrudes.
• “Hereafter,” scores as the ambitious award-potential production that explores beyond cliches yet spins a unique perception of inquiring about the potential for life after death. Directed by Clint Eastwood and shot in Europe with an ensemble cast, the alternate realms of consciousness after death premise may have similar potential as the elaborately provocative and imaginative summer sleeper “Inception.” Matt Damon and Cécile de France earn acting honors based on film festival buzzes.
• “Saw 3D” has a group of Jigsaw survivors seeking therapy from a guru that of course sets off a new selection of secrets and games. Relying on reports from the Comic-Con previews, the last flick in the franchise contains 11 traps. The first one has two men shackled to buzz saws inside a department store window display. A woman is chained to the ceiling. All three have broken the law, so in the next 60 seconds one will die. I know, but I’m not going to be a spoiler.
Some select regions of the country will have an opportunity to see a re-make of the cult horror classic, “I Spit on Your Grave,” as well as a sequel, “Hatchet II.”
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