Film Thrillers Coming this Fall

by Sandra Olmsted

Halloween is coming, and as the days get shorter, humans need reasons to stay in at night, so scary, suspenseful films naturally appeal and provide the opportunity to comfort a significant other or a potential one. For viewers who crave the thrills without the supernatural or sci-fi scares, thrillers address realistic fears such as kidnapping or being chased or trapped. Below are some films to satisfy that craving for nightmarish, heart-racing chills and thrills.

In Theaters Now:

RIDDICK:  Writer/director David Twohy’s latest chapter in the franchise began with Pitch Black and continued with The Chronicles of Riddick. Vin Diesel returns as antihero Riddick, a dangerous, escaped convict wanted by every bounty hunter. Left for dead on a scorched planet, Riddick must choose between battling aliens, who are intent on slicing and dicing him, or setting off emergency beacons which will bring new, extra violent bounty hunters, some with a personal grudge against Riddick. Meanwhile, an unsurvivable super storm threatens Riddick, aliens, and bounty hunters. Twohy, who is just going through the motions, sticks close to the genre conventions and keeps the pace up while adding engaging touches. The film’s solid action and abundant violence will be entertaining to some fans. A Universal Pictures release, Riddick is rated R for strong violence, language and some sexual content/nudity and runs 119 minutes.

CLOSED CIRCUIT: Director John Crowley’s thriller starts with an terrorist bombing in a crowded London market for which Farroukh Erdogan (Denis Moschitto) is quickly detained. Tapped by the British Attorney General (Jim Broadbent) to represent Erdogan, Martin Rose (Eric Bana) and Claudia Simmons-Howe (Rebecca Hall), former lovers, can’t contact each other as they prepare separate trial phases. Claudia’s keeper is MI5 agent Nazrul Sharma (Riz Ahmed), and Martin is assisted by fellow lawyer Devlin (Ciarán Hinds). Martin pieces
together a frightening conspiracy, and he needs to compare notes with Claudia. Meanwhile, Farroukh and his family will only say he’s guilty. Although Crowley stick to the genre conventions, his nimble direction and Steve Knight’s nuanced script are helped by creepy handheld camerawork, tight editing, and some suspenseful sequences, but mostly film raises questions about the cost of government espionage and surveillance and the post 9/11 behavior of Western governments.  Closed Circuit, a Focus Features release, is rated R for language and brief violence and runs 96 minutes.

YOU’RE NEXT: Filmed in Columbia, Missouri, this genre-bending, low-budget, tour de force combines home invasion with horror and suspense thriller tropes. Paul (Rob Moran) and Aubrey (Barbara Crampton) celebrate their 35th anniversary with their battling offspring — Crispian (AJ Bowen), Drake (Joe Swanberg), Felix (Nicholas Tucci), and Aimee (Amy Seimetz) — and guests Zee (Wendy Glenn), Felix’s creepy goth girlfriend, and Erin (Sharni Vinson), Crispian’s girl who is adept at handling problems. Then intruders (L.C. Holt, Simon Barrett, Lane Hughes) crash the party, intending to kill the family et al. The harmonious cast makes up for less then topnotch acting with chemistry. Although the antagonists are weak, director Adam Wingard makes up it with production values, solid camera work and editing, and good scares. Running 94 minutes, this Lionsgate release is rated R for strong bloody violence, language and some sexuality/nudity.

INSIDIOUS: CHAPTER 2. This sequel to director James Wan and writer Leigh Whannell’s acclaimed Insidious continues the Lambert family battle with demons and possession and digs into childhood secrets to solve paranormal problems. Renai (Rose Byrne) and Josh (Patrick Wilson) Lambert move in with Lorraine (Barbara Hershey), Josh’s mother, and struggle against an evil spirit that reattached to Josh when he astral projected himself into the “Further” to rescue
comatose son Dalton (Ty Simpkins). Medium Elise Rainier (Lin Shaye) and ghosthunters Specs (Leigh Whannell) and Tucker (Angus Sampson) also return.    James Wan also directed Saw and this summer’s excellent The Conjuring and is proving that he has horror directing chops even though Insidious: Chapter 2 is rumored to be inferior to The Conjuring and Insidious. This FilmDistrict release is rated PG-13 for intense sequences of terror and violence, and thematic elements and runs 98 minutes. Opens on Friday Sept.  13.

Fall Preview:

Opening September 20, Prisoners, which is generating Oscar buzz already, follows increasingly desperate Keller Dover (Hugh Jackman) and Det. Loki (Jake Gyllenhaal) as they search for Dover’s abducted daughter and deal with complex moral issues. Director Denis Villeneuve’s thriller, a Warner Bros. release, is rated R for disturbing violent content including torture, and language throughout and runs 146 minutes.

October 4 brings the much anticipated release of director Alfonso Cuarón’s sci-fi thriller Gravity, for which all the buzz is very good. Adrift in space after an accident, Matt Kowalsky (George Clooney), a seasoned astronaut, and Dr. Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock), a medical engineer, must work together if they are going to survive. Gravity, a Warner Bros. release, is rated PG-13 rating and runs 90 minutes.

On October 11, All the Boys Love Mandy Lane is finally released seven years after premiering at the 2006 Toronto International Film Festival. Director Jonathan Levine’s standard slasher flick stars the up-and-coming Amber Heard as one of the teenagers partying at a remote farm and being picked off one at a time. Rated R for strong disturbing violence, pervasive drug and alcohol use, sexuality/nudity and language – all involving teens, this Weinstein Co. release runs 90 minutes.

Also opening on the 11th, Machete Kills stars Mel Gibson, Lady Gaga, Antonio Banderas, Sofia Vergara, and Amber Heard. This installment in Robert Rodriguez’s faux-Grindhouse, B-movie spoofs provides self-conscious, campy fun. While traveling across his country, Machete Cortez (Danny Trejo), a Mexican government agent, goes after an arms dealer who plans to launch a weapon into space. This Open Road Films release is not yet rated, and the length has yet to be announced.

On October 18, the Carrie “reimagining” stars Chloë Grace Moretz in Sissy Spacek’s role as the bullied teen with telekinetic powers and Julianne Moore as Carrie’s religious fanatic mother. Director Kimberly Pierce of Boys Don’t Cry fame reportedly consulted with Brian De Palma, who directed the 1976 original, before shooting her version. Based on Stephen King’s novel, this Sony Pictures release/MGM presentation is not yet rated, and the length has yet to be announced.

On November 1st, Summit Entertainment releases Ender’s Game, writer/director’s Gavin Hood adaptation of Orson Scott Card’s sci-fi novel. Seventy years after a horrific war, the hostile Formics again attacked Earth, and Colonel Hyrum Graff (Harrison Ford) and Mazer Rackham (Ben Kingsley) train the best and brightest children for the next war. Then shy Ender Wiggin (Asa Butterfield) arrives at Battle School and soon masters difficult war games, but can Ender lead his fellow soldiers and save Earth? This sci-if action-adventure is not yet rated, and the length has yet to be announced.

All these films promise thrills and chills regardless of the reason for seeking the suspense, thrills, and scares! Hit the theaters now for Riddick, Closed Circuit, and You’re Next, Insidious 2 (opens on Sept. 13), and keep your eyes open for the upcoming releases.

More of Olmsted’s reviews are available at <


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