With only one film opening wide this weekend, this is one of the year’s slowest for new releases. Halloween is usually the calm before the storm of big holiday titles making their way into theaters. Business should be fairly strong following last week’s “Paranormal Activity 2” opening and the higher ticket prices for “Saw 3D” should help it reclaim the number one spot after going head-to-head and losing to the first “Paranormal Activity” last year. In limited release this week, your options include the final installment in the Swedish film adaptions of Stieg Larsson‘s “Millenium” trilogy “The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest,” the dark drama “Welcome to the Rileys,” starring James Gandolfini, Melissa Leo, and Kristen Stewart and the low-budget alien flick “Monsters.”
In Wide Release: Supposedly the last film in one of the most popular horror franchises ever, “Saw 3D” hits multiplexes this weekend. The torture-happy series has been scaring the skinny jeans out of mallrats for six years now, even though it feels as if it has been around forever. Cary Elwes rejoins the cast for this installment, but otherwise it’s business-as-usual, albeit with all the gore in delicious 3D. We did actually see this one, hoping to find it at least watchable, but we might as well been hoping for a miracle. It’s a tired, cheap sequel in a franchise that has fully worn out its welcome. RT: 17% Metacritic:0.
In Limited Release: “The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest” is the third film in a Swedish-language trilogy inspired by the mega-selling books from the late Stieg Larsson. This time Lisbeth Salander (Noomi Rapace) is recovering from brain damage as she awaits trial for murder with the loyal journalist Mikael Blomkvist (Michael Nyqvist) working to clear her name. We reviewed the film earlier this week, finding it to be an unsatisfying conclusion to a tepid trilogy despite Rapace’s inspired performance. Hollywood came calling for both Rapace and Larsson’s novels, hopefully David Fincher‘s adaptation next year can elevate the pulpy material. RT: 45% Metacritic: 60.
The sophomore effort by Jake Scott (son of Ridley) “Welcome to the Rileys” opens in limited release today. The drama stars James Gandolfini and Melissa Leo as a couple who have grown apart in the wake of the death of their daughter, when their lives intersect with a teenage runaway played by Kristen Stewart. We posted our review today, finding an impressive feature from Scott, very strong performances from the leads, and an affecting, emotionally resonate story, even if it can’t quite come to a completely satisfying conclusion. RT: 52% Metacritic: 48.
Thought it’s been available on VOD for several weeks now, the alien-invasion road movie “Monsters” gets a limited theatrical release today. Gareth Davis’ debut film takes place in a slightly modified present day, six years after a NASA probe carrying alien life from within our solar system crashed in Mexico, unleashing a number of violent creatures on our planet. Mexico has been labeled an Infected Zone as a photojournalist working within the zone is tasked with getting the head of his publication’s daughter on a ferry to the US. While it shares some elements from the sci-fi verite of “District 9,” “Monsters is not nearly as action-packed and much smaller in scale. We saw the film back at TIFF and found it to be smart and surprising with a fresh eye on familiar material. RT: 60% Metacritic: 56. — Hunter McClamrock