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.

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.

Outland (1981, dir. Peter Hyams)

A new mining post security chief on a Jupiter moon investigates a series of deaths. A weak script and iffy science undermine this great-looking SF thriller (emulating Alien and clearly influential on early James Cameron). Doesn’t really deliver on its High Noon in Space promise.

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.

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.

Enola Holmes (2020, dir. Harry Bradbeer)

Sherlock Holmes’ younger sister Enola investigates their mother’s disappearance. Handsomely-produced but wildly inconsistent Victorian teen detective romp. A strong cast and good production values help, but a weak and smug script scuppers the enterprise as a whole, despite fun moments.

Here’s the trailer.

Dark Waters (2019, dir. Todd Haynes)

A lawyer investigates an environmental conspiracy linked to chemical company Dupont. Based on a true story, this sober drama is deliberate and effective. Oddly, the weak link is producer/star Ruffalo, who’s simply 20 years too old to be playing the lead, despite his sterling efforts. A sturdy cast of character actors helps things along.

Abduction (2019, dir. Ernie Barbarash)

Two men work to find missing family members; an interdimensional conspiracy is revealed. Modest Vietnam-set martial arts action with an SF/fantasy twist. No dafter than, say, Doctor Strange, but interesting to see attempted at this budget level. Very competent fight choreography is the selling point here. Ignore the poster; nothing to do with the movie!

The Arrival (1996, dir. David Twohy)

A disgraced radio astronomer is convinced that alien communications are being received. Quirky SF/horror hybrid with plenty of daft ideas and enough visual interest to keep you watching. No classic, but fun.

Domino (2019, dir. Brian De Palma)

A Copenhagen detective tracks down the terrorist responsible for his partner’s death. By-the-numbers thriller with a few flourishes typical of its director (a Vertigo reference here, a fascination with screens and technology) but also a flat script and a lack of enthusiasm for its rote story and characters throughout.