The Devil All The Time (2020, dir. Antonio Campos)

An Ohio family is linked in different ways with a series of tragedies and crimes. Splendid adaptation of the Donald Ray Pollock novel; a brooding back country gothic noir meditating on faith and violence. Not for everyone, but there’s strong work from all concerned here. Recommended.

Here’s the trailer.

Don’t Let Go (2019, dir. Jacob Aaron Estes)

A detective races to save the life again of his niece, who is contacting him through time from before her recent murder. Odd timeslip procedural (a cousin to Deja Vu) that succeeds if you go with its premise. Excellent performances and committed direction help no end.

Here’s the trailer.

Project Power (2020, dir. Henry Joost & Ariel Schulman)

Multiple parties search for the source of a New Orleans street drug, which grants a superpower for five minutes. Flashy and confident if superficial mashup of Limitless and the 70s TV show Gemini Man. Plenty of incidental fun tho, especially in the first two acts.

The Debt Collector 2 [AKA Debt Collectors] (2020, dir. Jesse V Johnson)

French and Sue go to Las Vegas on the promise of a payday. DTV martial arts comedy-thriller sequel that’s a cut above. The mix of bickering and bar fights as before, though there’s some panache in the direction, the action choreography, and the chemistry between the leads. Recommended for genre fans.

Dark Place (2019, dir. Kodie Bedford, Perun Bonser, Rob Braslin, Liam Phillips, Bjorn Stewart)

Five horror shorts concerned with AboriginalĀ andĀ Torres Strait Islander females, and with the legacies of colonialism. Not a dud among them either, with a range of subgenres and stylistic approaches (from human trafficking to vampirism, and from moody b/w to Raimi-esque splatter comedy). Each stand-alone story is brisk and effective enough to earn its place and more. Recommended.

The Night Clerk (2020, dir. Michael Cristofer)

A hotel night clerk – who has an ASD – witnesses a murder via the recordings he makes of guests. Good performances aside, this is neither trashy enough to revel in its mashup of Rear Window and the likes of Vacancy, nor pacy and committed enough to its thriller elements to work in dramatic terms. Well-directed though, and not without its pleasures.

Arkansas (2020, dir. Clark Duke)

Two low-level drug dealers find themselves in a new state, working for a new boss. Low-key, novelistic drama (adapted from the John Brandon book) with thriller elements. Its gentle pace and lack of narrative drive may infuriate some, but there’s plenty to appreciate if you go with it.

Hammer (2019, dir. Christian Sparkes)

An estranged father and son are forced to work together when a drug deal goes wrong. Smart, lean all-in-one-day indie thriller with as keen a focus on character and relationships as on the narrative’s spiralling complications. Lots to appreciate and enjoy; recommended. Great to see Will Patton in a leading role too.

Batman: The Killing Joke (2016, dir. Sam Liu)

An origin story for The Joker, filtered through his attempts to show anyone can become like him if they have a single day traumatic enough. Okay expansion of the iconic Moore/Bolland graphic novel. Doesn’t add much except running time; for completists only, perhaps, though those unfamiliar with the book may appreciate it more.

Batman Returns (1992, dir. Tim Burton)

Batman encounters Catwoman and The Penguin, who is being manipulated to become mayor of Gotham City. Darker, confident sequel, with a pervy streak a mile wide running right through it. Pushing the limits of weirdness for a tentpole release, Batman Returns is both a franchise and genre high point.