This weekend, Edgar Wright’s latest Giallo-inspied psychological thriller Last Night in Soho finally premieres in theaters in time for Halloween. But if you’re not feeling up to head out to the movies this weekend though, don’t worry; there’s tons of new movies to rent and stream this weekend.
At the top of the stack: Army of Thieves, the international heist action prequel to Zach Synder’s zombie heist action film Army of the Dead, a brand new entry in the Paranormal Activity franchise, the eerie fantasy family drama Lamb starring Noomi Rapace, and a Frank Frazetta-inspired rotoscope-animated epic.
To help you get a handle on what’s new and available, here are the movies you can watch with the click of a button this weekend.
Army of Thieves
Where to watch: Available to stream on Netflix
Ludwig Dieter, the safe-cracking savant first introduced in Zach Snyder’s 2021 zombie heist film Army of the Dead, returns in the decidedly non-zombie-related heist movie Army of Thieves. Set six years before the events of Army of the Dead, the film find Dieter in the early years of his safecracking career. Recruited by a mysterious woman named Gwendoline (Nathalie Emmaneul) to take part in a high-stakes heist involving the cracking of three notoriously impenetrable safes across Europe, Dieter will have to rise to the occasion if he has any hope of becoming a legend among thieves — let alone making it out of the job alive. Directed by and starring Matthias Schweighöfer, Army of Thieves looks like an appropriately explosive and entertaining enough follow-up to Snyder’s original film, but is there more beneath the surface? From our review,
The myopic goals of franchise-building consume Army of Thieves down to the rind. The origin of Sebastian’s eventual Ludwig Dieter pseudonym is tied to a comic book, with cringeworthy abandon. Sebastian often has dreams of zombies coming to kill him, setting up the story beat in Army of the Dead where he locks himself in a safe for protection. And the film’s prologue connects directly to Snyder’s flick, through a flash-forward sequence. The only variation Schweighöfer takes is in the look and the feel of his movie: It isn’t nearly as bleak. Brightly lit and with far less gunplay, it also isn’t as gruesome — or as entertaining, for that matter. The quirky humor drowns the film in maudlin seas.
Paranormal Activity: Next of Kin
Where to watch: Available to stream on Paramount Plus
The Paranormal Activity franchise is back and — likely thanks to the pandemic dent in the entertainment industry — straight to streaming. Directed by a William Eubanks, who’s made some lower-budget, visually stunning genre movies like Underwater and The Signal, Next of Kin followers a documentary filmmaker as she descends into an Amish community. But all is not right in the god-fearing community, and in true Paranormal Activity fashion, hell breaks loose. Expect slightly fewer flashing lights due to the lack of electricity, but plenty of 2021-friendly twists on the formula.
The Spine of Night
If you’re desperately yearning for an animated dark fantasy horror epic in the vein of Ralph Bakshi’s Fire and Ice, or if you just really, really miss Metalocalypse, The Spine of Night is the kind of film that was made for you. Directed by Love, Death & Robots writer Philip Gelatt and animator Morgan Galen King, The Spine of Night is an ultra-violent animated fantasy following several generations of warriors and heroes battling demonic forces loosed upon the world by a crime against the gods. Featuring hand-rotoscoped animation and boasting a cast of performances by Richard E. Grant, Lucy Lawless, Patton Oswalt, Joe Manganiello, and more, The Spine of Night promises to offer an over-the-top journey worth experiencing.
Noomi Rapace (Prometheus) and Hilmir Snær Guðnason star in Valdimar Jóhannsson’s dark fantastical Icelandic drama Lamb as a couple who discover a strange half-human, half-lamb creature born in their sheep born. With no children of their own, the couple adopt the young “child,” naming it Ada and attempt to raise it as their own with love, all while dark unseen forces conspire to lure the strange newborn back to the wilderness. As critic Alison Willmore wrote in her review for Vulture, “Lamb isn’t a horror movie. It’s more like a fairy tale, with all the darkness that most fairy tales have before they’re tidied up for contemporary consumption.”
Shuya Chang (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Sword of Destiny) stars in director Evan Jackson Leong’s action suspense drama Snakehead as Sister Tse, a young immigrant trying desperately to make a living in New York. Groomed by Dai Mah (Jade Wu), the matriarch of a ruthless Chinese crime family, Tse becomes a Snakehead (aka human smuggler) and rising through the ranks. However, when the ruthless realities of the job become too much to bear, Tse will be forced to choose what kind of life it is she wants to live in America — and how far she’s willing to go in order to realize it. The trailer looks exciting, with some impressive editing and action, and Chang certainly exudes a captivating presence of both desperation and steely command over the situation her character finds herself in.
And here’s what dropped last Friday:
Where to watch: In theaters and available to stream on HBO Max
Set in the year 10,191, Blade Runner 2049 director Denis Villenueve’s adaptation of the celebrated Frank Herbert sci-fi epic stars Timothée Chalamet as Paul Atreides, son and heir to the powerful Duke Leto Atreides (Oscar Isaac), who is forced to leave the planet of his birth to become the newly appointed stewards of Arrakis, a desert planet home to a coveted resource known as melange. There are sword fights, politics, intrigue, betrayal, drama, and oh — these colossal creatures called sandworms that burst out of the ground before devouring people. Honestly, there’s way too much to explain about Dune than can fit in a single paragraph, which is why we so lovingly put together this handy-dandy guide to explain its vast and strange universe. But enough of all that, let’s hone in on the biggest question: should you set aside time this weekend to watch Villeneuve’s latest, hulking sci-fi extravaganza? From our review,
If you can get lost in the cocoon of production, costume, and art-design opulence, and sink into the Big Event angle of it all — which is why people go to the movies, isn’t it? — the film, styled as Dune: Part One, can be overwhelmingly evocative. The problem, though, is the film’s pervasive emotional emptiness. Villeneuve and his co-writers, Jon Spaihts (of Passengers and Prometheus) and Eric Roth, rush through character journeys, and shortchange ostensible hero Paul Atreides (wild-hair-haver Timothée Chalamet). They skip over explaining most of the dense mythology of this world, instead collapsing entire communities into thinly rendered versions of other recognizable pop-culture figures. (The Fremen more or less become Tusken Raiders; the Bene Gesserit are Macbeth’s witches.) And the result of all that streamlining is that the connective thread linking all these disparate elements into a cohesive whole is nowhere to be found. The film is a splendid, threadbare tapestry that unravels as you’re watching it.
If you’re aching for another assassin action thrilling in the vein of 2017’s Atomic Blonde, 2019’s Anna, or this year’s Kate, then The Protégé should be right up your alley. Starring Maggie Q (Nikita), the film centers on the story of Anna, a young contract killer adopted by the legendary assassin Moody (Samuel L. Jackson) and raised to be his partner and apprentice. When Moody is brutally executed at the behest of devious businessman Michael Rembrandt (Michael Keaton), Anna embarks on a campaign of vengeance to uncover the reason why Moody was targeted, all while fending off Moody’s killer. While The Protégé may sound nearly identical to all those aforementioned assassin drama, what this film has in its favor is Martin Campbell, the director of 2006’s Casino Royale at the helm. Campbell is an old hand at these kinds of action films, so it goes without saying that if anyone can pull something fresh and exciting from this premise, it’s him.
Where to watch: Available to stream on Netflix
Adam Randall’s vampire horror thriller Night Teeth follows Benny (Jorge Lendeborg Jr.), a young college student moonlighting as a chauffeur who realizes that his two young female clients are in fact blood-sucking vampires. The film quickly transforms into Collateral by way of Vampires vs. the Bronx, with Benny being forced to drive the pair around as they wreak havoc on their unsuspecting victims. It’s a strange and alluring premise for sure, though one that is very obviously indebted to a whole slew of vampire films that have preceded it. From our review,
Sometimes, challenging cinema is overrated. Sometimes, a mildly trashy film is good enough for a couple hours of distraction, especially if it takes its premise from Blade, Underworld, and numerous other bloodsucking B-movies; its costumes from a burlesque revue of Francis Ford Coppola’s Bram Stoker’s Dracula; and its (too-brief) Megan Fox performance from Jennifer’s Body. Night Teeth isn’t genuinely original, substantive, or scary. But as a remix of the vampire thriller’s most lizard-brain-focused qualities, Netflix’s latest Halloween offering is appreciated for how few demands it puts on its audience.
Mia Hansen-Løve’s Bergman Island’s centers on Chris (Vicky Krieps) and Tony (Tim Roth), a married couple of American filmmakers who journey to Fårö island — the former home and inspiration for their creative idol Ignmar Bergman — for the summer in order to draw inspiration of their own from the fabled isle. As their stay progresses, the couple find themselves navigating their own creative journeys as the lines between their writing and reality begin to blend and blur into an introspective look at their origins as a couple and their respective futures. The trailer looks whimsical, upbeat, and genuinely fascinating, with Vicky Krieps and particularly standing out as a woman standing at the crossroads of her career as a filmmaker and her responsibilities as a mother and spouse.
With a premise that bears more than a passing resemblance to Joe Wright’s The Woman in the Window meets Edgar Allen Poe’s The Raven, Frida Kempff’s Knocking follows Molly (Cecilia Milocco), a recent survivor of a traumatic incident who begins to hear a strange insistent knocking sound, coupled with shrill screams, emanating from the room above her new apartment. With little help from the authorities or her neighbors, Molly must uncover the source behind these strange noises if not to save whoever is trying to contact her, then to preserve her own sanity. From the looks of the trailer, Knocking is jarring and paranoia-inducing thriller with grotesque visuals, unnerving sound design, and downright menacing performances. If you’re up for something spooky this weekend, this is definitely the film to watch.
Space Jam: A New Legacy
Space Jam: A New Legacy stars LeBron James as a fictionalized version of himself who, in a thwarted attempt to grow closer to his computer game-obsessed son Dom, is transported into the Warner Bros. Serververse and held captive by a nefarious artificial intelligence known as Al-G-Rhythm (Don Cheadle). To escape, LeBron must assemble the Looney Toons cast from across the corners of several Warner Bros. franchises and compete in a winner-takes-all basketball match against the Rhythm’s Goon Squad of virtual basketball icons like Anthony Davis and Klay Thompson. From our review,
The first Space Jam was born out of an attempt to sell sneakers. In a dizzying display of corporate dominance, the new Space Jam is trying to sell everything Warner Bros. has ever made. Space Jam: A New Legacy isn’t really a movie — it’s a crash course in vertical integration and brand identity, a marketing slideshow with a two-hour running time. Its viewers are taken on a whirlwind tour through every Warner IP geared toward every demographic: Wonder Woman’s Themyscira for girls and women, The Matrix for older men, Harry Potter for Old adults under 40 who haven’t been reading the news much, and so forth. This is how Hollywood works now. This is the future of blockbuster movies.
The premise of Old, the latest horror thriller from director M. Night Shyamalan, is as terrifying and cockamamie as you’d expect from the title alone. Following a family vacationing at a tropical resort, the premise takes a dark turn when they and other fellow guests at the resort find themselves trapped on a mysterious beach with no way to escape. Even worse, their bodies are rapidly growing and deteriorating at an alarming rate, forcing the group to search for a way to safety before their bodies crumble into dust. One of the people trapped on the beach, played by The Underground Railroad’s Aaron Pierre, is a rapper named Mid-sized Sedan. Really. From our review,
Old has been marketed and constructed as a thriller — the opening act is steeped in dread, and its horror comes from the whittling down of its small cast, both psychologically and mortally. But it’s also a surprisingly sentimental film. While its title and premise presume a focus on an adult fear of aging and death, Shyamalan’s script and staging is overwhelmingly concerned with children. The few scenes before the beach are almost entirely from their perspective, as Trent, precocious and smart, rattles off facts and makes friends, and his older sister Maddox looks out for him. The nightmare of the beach isn’t what happens to the adults, who ought to know better, but the children, who, mere feet away from their parents, are thrust into adulthood without any guidance at all, getting a lifetime’s worth of regret compressed into a few moments.