Sputnik (2020, dir. Egor Abramenko)

1983: a Soviet cosmonaut returns to Earth harbouring a parasite. Very watchable Alien/Quatermass Experiment hybrid, balancing SF horror with a developing romance and a modernist visual sensibility. Doesn’t add much to what we’ve seen before, perhaps, but distinctive in feel and look nevertheless.

Here’s the trailer.

The Yakuza (1974, dir. Sydney Pollack)

A former detective returns to Japan from the US: an old friend’s daughter under threat. Neither quite a neo-noir, an action thriller or a study of overseas crime syndicates, The Yakuza tries to be all three with variable results. Slow, but interesting, with flashes of a darker, better, and more violent film lurking.

Here’s the trailer.

Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers [AKA Halloween 6] (1995, dir. Joe Chapelle)

Michael’s niece has a child: the baby is at the centre of a cult’s attempts to harness the energies compelling Michael Myers. Some distance from the linear plotting of the first films, this conclusion to the arc begun in Part 4 is soapy, scrappy, scattershot: only for indulgent series and Paul Rudd completists.

Here’s the trailer.

Halloween 5 [AKA Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers] (1989, dir. Dominique Othenin-Girard)

Michael Myers returns again to Haddonfield, this time to kill his institutionalized niece, who is still traumatised from their previous encounter. Developing new plot ideas from its immediate predecessor, Part 5 struggles for coherence and focus throughout: by this stage of things the franchise is a weary beast indeed.

Here’s the trailer.

Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977, dir. Steven Spielberg)

A suburban dad is drawn to a Wyoming mountain after a close encounter with an unidentified flying object. Still hugely-effective blend of heart and smarts: perhaps Spielberg’s most complete film, mixing technical excellence with quest narratives, hard SF and senses of innocence and wonder.

Here’s the trailer.

Better Watch Out (2017, dir. Chris Peckover)

A pre-teen and his babysitter find themselves in a hostage situation one Christmas. Gleeful mashup of Home Alone and The Strangers that plays fast with audience expectations of a Yuletide teen wish fulfilment black comedy siege horror flick. Does what it sets out to do with some gusto.

Here’s the trailer.

Tenet (2020, dir. Christopher Nolan)

An agent is recruited to investigate an arms dealer who may have access to technology from the future. Dazzling, confident SF thriller with more than its share of smart ideas. Glossy entertainment of the highest order: sharp suits, modernist architecture, timey-wimey shenanigans. Don’t overthink it: go with the temporal flow. Recommended.

Here’s the trailer.

The Void (2016, dir. Steven Kostanski & Jeremy Gillespie)

A closing-down hospital comes under siege from cultists outside, and from monsters within. 80s-tastic lo-fi splattery horror, riffing on multiple John Carpenter movies and others, not least Phantasm. Plenty of fun in its own right, even if it tends to go for striking images over consistency in character and story terms.

Here’s the trailer.

And here’s Lemonsquirtle’s review.

The Senator [AKA Chappaquiddick] (2017, dir. John Curran)

Edward Kennedy’s presidential ambitions are destroyed because of his involvement in the death of Mary Jo Kopechne. Sober political drama focusing on ambition, hubris, legacy, and arrogance. Decent performances and production values help, though there’s awkwardness in the focus on the politician over the deceased.

Here’s the trailer.

Die Hard 2 [AKA Die Hard 2: Die Harder] (1990, dir. Renny Harlin)

John McClane intervenes to stop mercenaries from freeing a high-value prisoner from a snowbound airport. Messy serio-comic sequel that bends over backwards to link itself to the first film. It scrapes by on residual goodwill from its predecessor, but that’s about it.

Here’s the trailer.