Weekend Movies: Frightfest for All

Thrills and scares abound for various audience demographics in this weekend’s new movies. Among them are a new Spielberg drama, a new Guillermo del Toro horror tale, and a playful take on R.L. Stine’s popular book series.

The widest release of the weekend is the PG-rated scary family flick ‘Goosebumps‘. Jack Black, teenagers and a lot of CG effects star in this creative kids’ movie that’s quite a bit more than just an adaptation of one of author R.L. Stine’s many youth fiction books. Instead, Black stars as author R.L. Stine himself. In this cinematic version of the reality, he’s a shut-in with an unexplainable power. His writing is so strong that the monsters from his books literally leap from the pages when opened. To keep monsters such as the Wolfman, the Abominable Snowman of Pasadena, and Slappy the Ventriloquist Dummy (and many more) at bay, he keeps the books locked shut. But when the teenage boy next door and his new best friend open one of the books, with the help of Stine and his daughter, they must fight the monsters and save the town in fun ‘Monster Squad’ fashion.

Guillermo del Toro’s creepy period piece ‘Crimson Peak‘ is the second-biggest release of the weekend. Set in the early 1900s, the Gothic horror story follows a young American woman (Mia Wasikowska) who falls for a charming British inventor (Tom Hiddleston). After her father dies, she marries him and moves to his remote estate in England, a grand old home built on a red clay hill known as Crimson Peak. Once there with her new husband and his unpredictable sister (Jessica Chastain), she’s reminded of a warning that her mother’s ghost shared with her as a child, one that didn’t make sense until it was too late: “Beware of Crimson Peak.” Get ready for a fantastic horror film that’s not only pleasing to the eye, but meaty with much-better-than-average quality. Don’t be surprised when it’s nominated for design Oscars. If the option is available to you, it’s worth seeing in IMAX.

Surprisingly, out of the three wide releases, Steven Spielberg’s latest film is opening in the smallest number of theaters – but that’s still 2,811 screens. ‘Bridge of Spies‘ reunites the filmmaker with star Tom Hanks in a thrilling true story set at the peak of the Cold War. While Russia was sending spies to the U.S., the U.S. was flying camera-equipped U-2 planes 70,000 feet above Russia. Both were on the prowl for the other and each managed to catch one man from the other side. While defending a Russian spy in court, insurance lawyer James Donovan (Hanks) gets hired by the CIA to do what they can’t – facilitate a prisoner exchange with a dangerous nation that would also send off-the-record representatives of their own. With a great screenplay by Joel and Ethan Coen, ‘Bridge of Spies’ is yet another worthy Spielberg release.

There’s actually a fourth wide release this weekend, but distributor Pure Flix hasn’t done an ounce of marketing, causing it to fly under the radar until now. On 1,500 screens, the faith-based drama ‘Woodlawn‘ tells the biographical story of former NFL player Tony Nathan who, as a teenager in the early 1970s, struggled with faith and racism. ‘Woodlawn’ comes from the directors of ‘October Baby‘ and co-stars Sean Astin, Jon Voight and C. Thomas Howell.

In limited release, screenwriter James Vanderbilt takes a crack a directing with ‘Truth‘. With Robert Redford playing Dan Rather and Cate Blanchett playing his ’60 Minutes’ producer, the film tells the true story of the heat they and their weekly newsmagazine took in 2004 after running a controversial special on George W. Bush, who was President at the time. The film is said to be OK, but the performances are getting most of the praise. The supporting cast includes Topher Grace, Dennis Quaid, Elizabeth Moss, Bruce Greenwood and Stacy Keach.

Another of this weekend’s limited releases has been buzzed-about since hitting the festival circuit. From the director of ‘Frank‘, ‘Room‘ stars Brie Larson as the overly protective mother of a five-year-old boy. After spending his whole life in a small room and having no notion of what lies outside, she finally decides to take him out into the real world and play it up like a grand escape.

4 comments

  1. Bolo

    Thanks for that plot description of ‘Room’. I saw the trailer and was a bit confused because it looked like the same woman imprisoning the boy as helping him escape. I thought maybe it was just two actresses who look similar or something, but it turns out it is the same woman and there’s a reason for it.

    I’ll be seeing ‘Crimson Peak’ tomorrow. Looking forward to it. There will be plenty more films that will I see in cinemas this year, because that’s how I see most films, but this is the last big one that I was really anticipating for 2015.

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