This week has a large variety of films opening with something for virtually every audience. The horror genre is especially well represented with Ben Wheatley’s “Kill List”; Ti West’s “The Innkeepers”; and Daniel Radcliffe’s first post-Potter role in “The Woman In Black.” For those looking for something a little lighter, there’s also the eco-friendly whale film “Big Miracle” and Madonna’s latest directorial attempt “W.E.”
Below are reviews from the Indiewire network for this week’s new releases.
The Playlist: B-
It’s so good-natured, its heart so large, that it just merrily swims along; you’re never once worried that anything will go wrong.
The Playlist: B
What keeps “Chronicle” compelling is not the quickly wearing novelty of verité-style narrative, but a story in which the stakes aren’t on some far-fetched villain who has a plan to destroy the world, but are based on character-driven issues.
The Playlist: C
It’s admirable to see a filmmaker try to stretch, and while that built-in West strategy remains for “The Innkeepers,” he’s replaced the sense of atmosphere in favor of gentle workplace comedy.
The stakes never go that high in “The Innkeepers.” West, who demonstrated a penchant for extensive build-ups in “The House of the Devil” and “Trigger Man,” continually makes it unclear if the inn actually harbors a ghost or if his heroine (Sara Paxton) has simply imagines it.
And now there’s Ben Wheatley’s “Kill List,” which takes seemingly familiar genre elements and offsets them in ways that can be confounding, but leave an unforgettable impact.
Skillfully delivering a tense, violent story of raging hitmen while telling a much stranger tale beneath the surface, Wheatley blends formulas to create one of the richest texts on midlife crises to come along in quite some time.
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Like the three perplexed leads, you’re compelled to keep following the clues to see where Kill List leads – no matter how unpleasant the journey becomes along the way and how horrible you just know the final outcome is going to be.
The Playlist: A-
The rising anxiety of the picture is masterful, the alarmingly portentous qualities of the film seem to be built into its DNA far before things go brutally wrong.
The Playlist: F
We’ve never looked forward to Madonna going back on tour more, if only because it means that we’ll know, for certain, that she won’t be using that time to direct another movie.
The Material Girl uses the materials of film like she uses the medium of music, using flashiness to define the atmosphere and working backward to eke out the darker themes. Unfortunately, while the movie looks great and barrels forward with consistent style, the gimmick of two time periods grows stale and the emotional value turns cold along with it.
What a disappointment, because Riseborough is absolutely gripping, and the film looks divine. You can see Madonna’s dilemma: the Wallis Simpson story has been told so many times, you almost have to come up with a new twist. But this is a twist that turns the royal drama into a royal joke.
The Playlist: B+
“The Woman In Black” is a satisfyingly old-school horror movie in nearly every aspect of the production from script to screen.
This may not be one of the great ghost stories, but it’s pretty good. Compared to most early-2012 releases, it’s a masterpiece.