MIDSOMMAR | Folk horror
In Midsommar, a troubled couple travels to a rural Swedish town’s fabled midsummer festival, but what begins as an idyllic retreat quickly devolves into an increasingly violent and bizarre competition at the hands of a pagan cult.
Oscar nominee Florence Pugh (Little Women, Black Widow) stars alongside the likes of Sundance Special Jury Prize winner Jack Reynor (What Richard Did, Strange Angel) and Emmy nominee William Jackson Harper (The Underground Railroad, The Good Place).
Written and directed by multi-award-winning director Ari Aster (Hereditary), Midsommar won five 2020 Fangoria Chainsaw Awards, including Best Wide-Release Film, and 21 other accolades around the world. “If you’re looking for the scariest movie ever shot in blinding sunlight, the raw and riveting Midsommar is it,” says Rolling Stone.
Midsommar has an 83% critics rating on Rotten Tomatoes, where the critics consensus says, “Ambitious, impressively crafted, and above all unsettling, Midsommar further proves writer-director Ari Aster is a horror auteur to be reckoned with.”
PINOCCHIO | Fairy tale
Pinocchio, based on the beloved fairy tale by Carlo Collodi, stars Oscar winner Roberto Benigni (Life is Beautiful) as the old woodcarver Geppetto, whose puppet creation, Pinocchio (newcomer Federico Lelapi), magically comes to life. Naive and curious, Pinocchio tumbles from one misadventure to the next as he is tricked, kidnapped and chased by bandits on his quest to become a real boy.
Directed by BAFTA winner Matteo Garrone (Gomorrah), Pinocchio was nominated for two 2021 Oscars, for its costume design and makeup and hairstyling. It’s also won 19 awards around the world and holds an 83% critics rating on Rotten Tomatoes, where the critics consensus reads, “Sticking closely to Carlo Collodi’s original story, Matteo Garrone’s Pinocchio pulls every string to create a visually stunning film that proves some tales really are timeless.”
As with so many fairy tales, although it’s based on a children’s novel, Pinocchio can be unsettling and dark at times. Now dubbed into English, Pinocchio is recommended for ages 10+ by Common Sense Media.
FREAKY | Horror
Slasher comedy Freaky takes Freaky Friday to a whole new level when less-than-popular teenager Millie unintentionally switches bodies with the middle-aged serial killer terrorising her town. As the body count rises and the clock ticks down, Millie and her friends have less than 24 hours to stop Murder Barbie before the change becomes permanent…
Starring Young Artist Award winner Kathryn Newton (Big Little Lies, The Society) and MTV Movie Award, People’s Choice and Teen Choice winner Vince Vaughn (Wedding Crashers, The Break-Up), Freaky’s cast also includes Alan Ruck (Succession, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off).
Vaughn won Best Actor in a Horror Movie at the 2021 Critics’ Choice Super Awards, where Freaky was also up for Best Horror Movie and Newton was nominated for both Best Actress in a Horror Movie and Best Villain. Freaky also picked up nominations from the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films for Best Horror Film, the Fright Meter Awards for Best Actress (Newton) and the MTV Movie Awards for Most Frightened Performance (Vaughn).
Produced by triple-Oscar nominee Jason Blum (Get Out, BlacKkKlansman) and directed by Christopher Landon (who directed Happy Death Day and wrote four of the Paranormal Activity films), Freaky has an
83% critics rating on Rotten Tomatoes, with AV Club saying there’s “something oddly satisfying about unmasking a slasher movie to reveal the ’80s comedy lurking underneath.” As Slate says, “As strange as it may sound, Freaky is one of the 2020 movies that comes closest to being truly feel-good.”
RUN | Thriller, from 23 August
Psychological thriller Run stars Emmy and Golden Globe winner Sarah Paulson (Ratched, American Horror Story, 12 Years a Slave, Mrs. America) and introduces Kiera Allen as a homeschooled, wheelchair-bound teenager who begins to suspect her mother is keeping a dark secret from her.
The first female wheelchair-using actress to star in a suspense film since 1948, Allen won the 2021 Spotlight Award from the Hollywood Critics Association, with Paulson nominated for Best Actress at the 2020 Fright Meter Awards.
Written and directed by Aneesh Chaganty (Sundance Film Festival award winner for Searching) and co-written and produced by Sev Ohanian (who exec produced Judas and the Black Messiah), Run broke records to become Hulu’s most successful original film on its release late last year.
Run has an 88% critics rating on Rotten Tomatoes, with The Hollywood Reporter saying, “Dueling excellent performances from a deranged Sarah Paulson and spunky newcomer Kiera Allen make it hard to look away from the screen, not that the pacing of Chaganty and Sev Ohanian’s script allows much opportunity for distraction.”
WAR WITH GRANDPA | Family comedy
Peter and his grandpa used to be very close, but when Grandpa Jack moves in with the family, Peter is forced to give up his most prized possession: his bedroom. Peter will stop at nothing to get his room back, scheming with friends to devise a series of pranks to drive his grandpa out. However, grandpa doesn’t give up easily, and it turns into an all-out war between the two.
The 40th biggest box office hit of 2020 globally, War with Grandpa stars Oscar winner Robert De Niro, Oscar nominee Uma Thurman, and rising child star and Young Artist Award nominee Oakes Fegley (Pete’s Dragon, Wonderstruck), as well as Oscar winner Christopher Walken, Emmy winner Jane Seymour and multi-award-winner Cheech Marin.
War With Grandpa is recommended for ages 8+ by Common Sense Media, where they praise De Niro’s “charming performance” and say, “This impish comedy brings the whole family together with a nod to appreciating their elders just a little more.”
BECKY | Horror, from 26 August
In Becky, a teenager’s weekend at a lake house with her father takes a turn for the worse when a group of convicts wreaks havoc on their lives.
Lulu Wilson (Sharp Objects, The Haunting of Hill House) shines in the title role, with Emmy nominee Kevin James (The King of Queens, Paul Blart: Mall Cop) playing against type as the neo-Nazi villain. Emmy nominee Joel McHale (Community, Deliver Us From Evil) co-stars.
Variety calls this, “lean, mean, nasty fun that will appeal to genre fans with hard-edged tastes” while The Globe and Mail says, “This is near-perfect slimeball cinema – a welcome kick to the head that should also reinvent James’s career.”
BLADE (BOXSET) | Action
Calling all Blade fans – Marvel just gave us awesome news: production is due to start next year on the revival of Blade, with double-Oscar winner Mahershala Ali (Green Book, True Detective, Ramy) as the iconic vampire hunter.
So what better way to celebrate than a weekend binge with Wesley Snipes as original in the cult comic book trilogy Blade, Blade II, and Blade: Trinity, all written by David S. Goyer (The Dark Knight, Batman Begins, Dark City), who directed the third instalment.
The franchise grossed over $400million worldwide, with double Oscar winner Guillermo del Toro (The Shape of Water, Pan’s Labyrinth) helming the sequel and a supporting cast across the series that includes Deadpool star Ryan Reynolds, Emmy nominee Jessica Biel (The Sinner), Oscar nominee and Grammy Lifetime Achievement winner Kris Kristofferson, Hellboy star Ron Perlman, The Walking Dead star Norman Reedus, and Dominic Purcell (Legends of Tomorrow, Prison Break).
WATCHMEN | Superhero movie
The 2009 movie (and predecessor to the award-winning series), Watchmen is based on the graphic novel characters created by DC comic book legend Alan Moore. Directed by Zack Snyder (Justice League), the film was a #1 box office hit and won 11 international awards.
THE TOWN | Bank heist drama
Bank heist drama The Town is co-written and directed by Ben Affleck, who stars alongside Rebecca Hall, Jon Hamm, Blake Lively, Titus Welliver, and Chris Cooper. Jeremy Renner was nominated for an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor and Pete Postlethwaite posthumously nominated for a BAFTA for Best Supporting Actor in this Golden Globe-nominated box office #1 film that made the National Board of Review’s top ten list for 2010.
THE FUGITIVE | Thriller
Tommy Lee Jones won an Oscar and a Golden Globe as Best Supporting Actor in The Fugitive, as well as Best On-Screen Duo with Harrison Ford at the MTV Movie Awards, where the thriller also won Best Action Sequence for its classic train wreck.
LIFE AS WE KNOW IT | Comedy
Nominated for two Teen Choice awards, the charming comedy Life as We Know It stars Josh Duhamel and Katherine Heigl as two people who never plan to see each other again following a disastrous blind date… until they’re suddenly tasked with raising a baby together.
TAKE THE LEAD| Dance movie, from 30 August
Oscar nominee Antonio Banderas (Pain and Glory) won an Imagen Award for Best Actor in Take the Lead, the true story of a dance teacher who believed in the talent of a group of troubled teens. Take The Lead was also nominated for two Teen Choice awards, for Best Drama and Breakout (Female) for Yaya DaCosta (The Kids Are All Right, Whitney), and a Black Reel Award for Best Soundtrack. Oscar nominee Alfre Woodward (Desperate Housewives, 12 Years a Slave) co-stars.