A private hire driver picks up an unorthodox passenger. LA-set mashup of Collateral and The Hitcher for the Uber/Lyft generation. Okay performances (it’s basically a car-set three-hander), and some good moments, though the movie suffers from a lack of story: at 75 minutes, though, it doesn’t overstay its welcome.
A tech wiz develops an online trading portal for drugs: a burnout agent begins to investigate. Loosely based on a true story, this thriller/drama plays off opposites – digital/analogue, young/old – to generally OK if at-times soapy effect. No real surprises, but some effective playing from a decent cast. Paul Walter Hauser shines in a key supporting role.
A group of strangers are invited to play a new escape room. Well-mounted though straightforward post-Saw horror/puzzle movie, part of a cycle of similar flicks. Nor really scary or especially horrific, but entertaining in the moment. A sequel – Escape Room: Tournament of Champions – follows.
Trucker brothers transport key equipment over treacherous ice roads to rescue trapped miners. Straightforward thriller with action elements, riffing on Hawksian reality TV and The Wages of Fear. Somewhat perfunctory in plotting and direction, though a decent cast, location shooting, and some character elements add value.
A young woman leads a party recceing a remote long-abandoned mine being protected by locals. Very straightforward horror flick, uncertain what to do with its premise: not great at all. A decent lead performance helps, though, and old hand Will Patton offers world-weary grizzled support.
Searching for her long-missing friend, a young woman ventures into remote upstate New York. A confused film, bungling simultaneously Bigfoot horror, serial killer thriller, and gay romance. Slow to start and falling apart at the halfway point, this is messy, leering, but too dull to be infuriating. Not great.
An Italian mer-boy swims away from his boring undersea life to the 1950s surface, where he meets an exciting new friend. Sunny but slight animated adventure revisiting ideas done much better by Pixar elsewhere. Still, it looks great, there’s a lovely Sacha Baron Cohen voice cameo, and there’s openness to a gay reading of the central relationship, which is an interesting element.
Four US backpackers searching for a long-lost heir in Southwest New Guinea disregard rumours of cannibal tribes. Straightforward but effective found-footage horror with interesting credits, clearly in dept to both Cannibal Holocaust and The Blair Witch Project, with a glimmer of Heart of Darkness in the background.
A US Civil War-era plantation is not as it first appears. Clumsy attempt to mash together the likes of Westworld and The Village. Unfortunately, any good intentions are masked by a fetishised approach to depicting slavery, and by not thinking through either the premise or its implications. A shame, as Janelle Monae and – especially – Gabourey Sidibe are good here.
Thorin is driven mad by gold-lust as warring factions converge on Mt Erebor. The concluding part of the prequel trilogy is pretty much for fans only by this stage, though it’s nevertheless an impressively-mounted and extravagant action fantasy.