Four old friends play a mysterious drinking game: matters soon get out of hand. Fun little riff on Zathura / Jumanji with a little escape room stuff thrown in. At its strongest when focused on the game itself (its weakest in engineering soapy issues to be addressed), but there’s talent and some confidence on display here.
A young stepmother-to-be is isolated one Christmas with her partner’s children. Well-sustained psychological horror, strong on atmosphere. Kinda goes where you’d expect, and there’s some clunky exposition initially, but gets credit for pushing its core idea to an agreeably nasty limit.
An accordion-playing musical parodist finds that fame has its price. A solid comedy made with affection, effectively satirising the pop biopic genre while both lauding and appreciating the specific pleasures associated with its subject. Strength in depth in cameos too, plus some niche gags along the way.
A recently widowed woman starts to believe her house is haunted by her dead husband. Effective ghost story with some terrific scare moments and lingering unease. The payoff is a little tricksy, but this is well worth your focus nevertheless, not least for Rebecca Hall’s immaculate central performance.
Twin boys begin to suspect that their mother is not who she claims to be. Muted and perhaps over-respectful English-language remake of the 2014 Austrian original. The performances are uniformly good, mind, even if the reveals aren’t strong: Naomi Watts delivers another variant on her mum (or not…) under pressure specialism.
A meteorologist struggles with family and professional pressures as a freak weather event threatens Australia. Bargain basement though watchable cover version of the likes of The Day After Tomorrow: SciFi Channel / The Asylum production values, but this is no worse ultimately than the big-budget versions.
A detective crosses Europe on the trail of serial killers responsible for his daughter’s death. Tickbox post-Lecter thriller (from a James Patterson novel) held together by Jeffrey Dean Morgan and – initially – some strong moments. It collapses, though, under the weight of ho-hum twists and a throwaway ending.
A history of Black representation in US cinema, with a focus on the 1970s. An excellent and detailed chronological overview. Lots to think about here, and fresh light on relative obscurities offered. Clips and interviews galore. Recommended.
A high-stakes poker game among old friends gets out of hand. It’s messy (takes an age to get going) and both sweaty but not quite sleazy enough. At 80 minutes plus credits, it’s only just a movie too. There’s a solid half hour in the middle though: Benedict Hardie is especially fun.
A year after Lost Bullet, Lino has a chance to get justice for the deaths of his mentor and brother. Amped-up sequel delivering as before in close combat, chases, reversals, and vehicular mayhem. A slightly lighter touch this time: sterling genre (SF and western touches in the mix) entertainment all the same.