Jolt (2021, dir. Tanya Wexler)

A woman who controls her extreme anger issues via a high-tech electrical device investigates a murder. Poor sub-Crank action-comedy: a decent cast helps (several in one-set cameos), but (some OK) quips, poor action, over-direction, the world’s most guessable villain, and stagey visuals don’t. Feels like a TV pilot: has that Nu Boyana aesthetic.

Here’s the trailer.

Fear Street: 1666 [AKA Fear Street Part Three: 1666] (2021, dir. Leigh Janiak)

The final part of the trilogy: events and characters between 1994 and 1666 are linked. A messy finale saddled with an offstage villain, variable accents, a weird lack of interest in its potentially-good ideas, and an hour of padding. Not great at all: precisely one interesting visual moment.

Here’s the trailer.

Fear Street: 1994 [AKA Fear Street Part One: 1994] (2021, dir. Leigh Janiak)

Teens in a rundown community are attacked by the latest incarnation of a cyclic horror. The first of a linked trilogy, this feels like a feature-length series opener, though settles after lumpen exposition into an OK riff on Scream via IT, while promising a more involved story. A fresh cast helps, though there’s nothing particularly new here.

Here’s the trailer.

The Ice Road (2021, dir. Jonathan Hensleigh)

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.

Here’s the trailer.

The Empty Man (2020, dir. David Prior)

An ex-cop investigates the disappearance of a friend’s teen daughter. Dazzling in parts, this long, uneven but ambitious and compelling horror-ish movie is well worth your time and patience. Genre fans will know where it’s going, but there’s great stuff throughout, and James Badge Dale is as terrific as ever.

Here’s the trailer.

Willy’s Wonderland (2021, dir. Kevin Lewis)

A laconic drifter battles possessed animatronics in a children’s amusement attraction. While not quite as much fun as its Five Nights at Freddy’s-ish premise indicates, this mashup of The Banana Splits Movie and Cabin In The Woods just about earns its keep. Cage is Cage as ever, and here that’s a good thing.

Here’s the trailer.

Without Remorse [AKA Tom Clancy’s Without Remorse] (2021, dir. Stefano Sollima)

A special forces soldier seeks revenge on the agents who kill his wife. Sub-par military actioner intended to be a franchise-starter. A terrible script, lacklustre action, and variable playing (only Jodie Turner-Smith stands out) plus that European backlot aesthetic. A couple of visually-interesting moments, but that’s it.

Here’s the trailer.

Prophecy (1979, dir. John Frankenheimer)

A doctor investigating environmental harm in Maine finds that pollution is causing animal mutations. Daft, naive, though well-meaning studio eco-horror juggling post-Jaws monster mayhem, evil corporations, First Peoples legends, white saviour storytelling, and some fun effects and stunt work. A big ol’ mess.

Here’s the trailer.

Thunder Force (2021, dir. Ben Falcone)

Mismatched former best friends become superheroes after a laboratory mishap. Perhaps the most perfunctorily-plotted movie in recent history. McCarthy reprises her brash/embarrassed working class schtick, and there’s a few decent song-based jokes. A strong cast helps: Jason Bateman’s enjoying himself.

Here’s the trailer.

SAS: Red Notice (2021, dir. Magnus Martens)

An SAS officer is caught in a Channel Tunnel train hijack overseen by disgruntled mercenaries. Boorish, overlong action thriller that’s both hideously contrived and has some properly dumb ideas. A decent TV-ish cast and some effective stunt work help, but this is clunky, obvious stuff throughout.

Here’s the trailer.