• Beneath the Darkness

    Beneath the Darkness

    ★★★

    A horror potboiler that finds of group of teens taking on a mortician played by Dennis Quaid, "Beneath the Darkness" barely lands as recommendation-worthy thanks to a crazed Quaid and the full commitment to its preposterousness. Martin Guigui's film, seeing its high school players unearthing certain secrets that certain undertakers wish kept hidden, is not built on the most sure-footed narrative; and the production offers little that stands out. The atmosphere, the tiny tone-shifts, and the characters (not to mention the two end-credits songs) all work well together, however, and that makes all the difference.

  • Evil Little Things

    Evil Little Things

    ★★

    Though it is unable to overcome its hackneyed production flourishes and story elements, "Evil Little Things" almost lands as a watchable horror film. Featuring two horror tales told with a solid framing device, the film finds its character besets by porcelain terrors. Those tales are limited, and the film suffers from cornball touches; but the cast is sound and fully committed to the wants-to-be chilling shenanigans. This is a solid attempt that falls short.

  • Drácula

    Drácula

    ★★★★

    Directed by Enrique Tovar Ávalos and George Melford, the Spanish-language "Drácula" is both an interesting page of filmmaking history and an impactful feature in and of itself. The film, shot nightly on the same sets that Tod Browning's "Dracula" used during the day, is an atmospheric and effective early trek into talkie horror.

    Produced, according to "The Road to Dracula" documentary, in order to maximized return on cinematic investment now that movies had spoken-language specificity, "Drácula" could have been a…

  • Apparition

    Apparition

    ★★

    Tucking three stories, none of them overwhelmingly compelling, into one horror film, "Apparition" stretches its plot and the play-on-words to a flimsy, dismissible breaking point. Revolving around a boy who witnesses the death of his mother and is, in turn, sentenced to a reformatory where violent acts rule the day with one of those acts terrorizing teens 20 years later, the film eventually finds itself tracking the use of an app that can detect the dead. The narrative's different movements are equally limited, and the flat production does little to elevate the material. It is a thin experience.

  • Lou

    Lou

    ★★½

    Starring Allison Janney as a glowering character with a certain set of skills, "Lou" is a watchable thriller whose energy flags as the film progresses. Revolving around the kidnapping of a little girl, the film sees Janney's Lou concerning herself with the child's return. Bullets and fists fly as the dour story's secrets are revealed; but the rain-soaked production can not seem to keep tension at a premium as the work rolls on, deflated by uninvestable characters and a pervasive sogginess.

  • Red Notice

    Red Notice

    ★★★

    A big, expensive, throwaway adventure-caper, Rawson Marshall Thurber's "Red Notice" succeeds only based on the movie-star charm of its three leads. The story, dealing with two criminals, an FBI profiler, and an ill-thought heist, is on-paper fine; but the narrative is rarely engrossing in and of itself. The collection of token story threads is sewn together with a capable production that vibrates with a frequency as token as those plot beats it communicates. Its players give personality to an, otherwise, personality-free, light-toned thriller; and that, appealingly, is enough to make a difference.

  • Asylum of Fear

    Asylum of Fear

    ★½

    An instantly forgettable horror film that finds it characters paranormally investigating the mysteries of the titular institution, "Asylum of Fear" is the kind of low-budget genre offering that looks and smells like every other similar-minded film of the last five years. The work builds itself on suggestions of story beats, rudimentary attempts at chills, and flimsy filmmaking. To its credit, however, horror completists will have definitely seen worse.

  • The Falling

    The Falling

    ★★½

    A VHS-era horror adventure that looks and feels like it should have Roger Corman's hands all over it, the surprisingly Corman-free "The Falling" stirs together energetic characters, an extraterrestrial threat, and suitable thrills. Also known as the clearly cornier "Alien Predators," the film sees three American tourists running headlong into the above outer-space danger while traveling in Spain. The story is built to offer genre excitement with a straight-faced tone and succeeds serviceably, delivered by an efficient if limited production and a game cast. Overall, the experience may not be memorable; though, it is watchable while it lasts.

  • The Banshees of Inisherin

    The Banshees of Inisherin

    ★★★★½

    Martin McDonagh's stellar "The Banshees of Inisherin" positively bristles with every element needed to make the film land as an outstanding experience. From dialogue and performance, texture and attitude, McDonagh's bleak-tinged comedy offers the ingredients and execution required for a cinematic feast.

    Taking place on a quiet Irish island, "The Banshees of Inisherin" is a character-driven slice of story that finds its protagonist lamenting the sudden end of a long friendship. There is less plot than observation of its players…

  • Dracula

    Dracula

    ★★★★½

    The icon that thrust what would become the visual code for the king of all vampires into the public consciousness, Tod Browning's "Dracula" may be more renowned for what it established than the immediate experience of the film itself. There is an odd sort-of let down, a sense of "that's all there is?," viewing the horror landmark 91 years after its initial release in light of everything Browning's foray into sound cinema set forth. Still, Universal's primordial chiller is every…

  • Homebound

    Homebound

    ★★½

    A small-scale horror film that features quiet chills and off-putting children, "Homebound" finds a husband bring his new wife to remote manor to meet his children. The man's brood from a previous marriage treats the stepmother with more than passing disrespect, and certain secrets soon rise to the fore. It is a serviceable if undeveloped narrative, the limitations production communicating story with icy capability. The entire experience feels stunted as the credits roll, but the work is watchable despite its shortcomings.

  • Black Rain

    Black Rain

    ★★★½

    Ridley Scott's "Black Rain," a Japan-set crime thriller that finds Michael Douglas and Andy Garcia's New York cops dealing with local law enforcement and the Yakuza, is smooth, stylish work. The story is a straightforward potboiler, peopled with hard scrabble types and culture-clashing tropes, that clicks with a neatly assembled plot. Scott composes the film with weight, focusing on his characters' grit and personalities, and layers that weight and the energy it produces with swift construction and visual zest. The results land as mid-tier Scott and a worthy experience.