Texas Killing Fields (2011, dir. Amy Canaan Mann)

Detectives struggle with a series of murders. Based very loosely on real-world unsolved crimes, this noir-ish thriller can’t decide whether to go for procedural or for obsessive cop angst. It tries both, and so doesn’t gel. Decent performances from an up-and-coming cast and an OK look make this a not-uninteresting curio though.

Here’s the trailer.

Silk Road (2021, dir. Tiller Russell)

A tech wiz develops an online trading portal for drugs: a burnout agent begins to investigate. Loosely based on a true story, this thriller/drama plays off opposites – digital/analogue, young/old – to generally OK if at-times soapy effect. No real surprises, but some effective playing from a decent cast. Paul Walter Hauser shines in a key supporting role.

Here’s the trailer.

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.

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.

Pet Sematary (2019, dir. Kevin Kölsch and Dennis Widmyer)

A doctor and family settle in a New England community with a secret. Okay second adaptation of the Stephen King novel, itself an extended riff on WW Jacobs’ “The Monkey’s Paw”. Adds some folk horror moments and enough third act story alterations to differentiate it sufficiently from the serviceable 1989 movie version.

Terminator: Genisys (2015, dir. Alan Taylor)

Time-travelling freedom fighters attempt to prevent a digital apocalypse in near-future (2017) San Francisco. Muddled series reboot saddled with awkward plotting, key unanswered questions, and too many borrowings. Only JK Simmons brings some fun in support.

Pet Semetery (2019, Dir. Kevin Kölsch, Dennis Widmyer)

A family discover a mysterious burial ground with hidden powers of reanimation. A well adapted movie which ably captures the horrific nastiness from the novel and plays nothing for laughs. Grim enough for a classic ‘bleak-end’ and worth your time!

First Man (2018, dir. Damien Chazelle)

Biopic of Neil Armstrong, from test pilot to Apollo 11 days. An impressionistic, oblique approach doesn’t really penetrate the subject, leaving Gosling free to offer another blank, introverted performance. Impressive rather than good, though with a sterling cast of character actors in support.

Zero Dark Thirty (2012, dir. Kathryn Bigelow)

A dramatisation of the hunt for and killing of Osama Bin Laden. Sober and focused, with an eye for detail and on the selling of its version of events as truth through the use of faux documentary techniques, this works as an intelligent thriller throughout.

Winchester (2018, dir. The Spierig Brothers)

A widowed doctor is hired to prove that the eccentric owner of a weapons company is insane. Handsomely-mounted jumpscare horror that doesn’t find much to do with its based-on-a-true-story premise, so settles for a few boos and no eews. Disappointing, given the talent involved.