REVIEW: ‘Smile’ will have horror fans smiling

Here in Minnesota, we know all about misleading smiles. It’s called being passive aggressive. The smiles in this film, though, are much more devilish.

Parker Finn makes his feature directorial debut with this new horror film, with Sosie Bacon playing the protagonist Rose. A doctor in a psychiatric ward, Rose regularly works with patients and it’s what brings her into contact with a troubled woman at the movie’s start.

The woman, a PhD student, says she’s been seeing a sinister figure who takes the form of people with an evil grin, before taking her own life. At first, Rose deduces that the woman must have been suffering from a mental ilness, until the same evil force begins appearing before her, too.

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REVIEW: Jumbled second half damages derivative ‘Don’t Worry Darling’

After helming the teen comedy “Booksmart” in her directorial debut, Olivia Wilde took a leap to the thriller genre in her sophomore effort.

While some of “Don’t Worry Darling” is effective, though, Wilde’s latest film doesn’t stick the landing very well.

Florence Pugh stars as Alice, a 1950s housewife who lives with her husband Jack (Harry Styles) in a small town in the southwestern United States. The town has been set up for workers who seem to work at a secretive government facility, and their families.

Alice and Jack have a comfortable life, with plenty of amenities and luxury to enjoy. Everything seems great, but Alice begins to notice some strange happenings and struggles with the restrictions around town, leading to a mystery unraveling.

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REVIEW: Rating for ‘Fall’ pushed up by survival thrills

False advertising. I’d say there’s more climbing in this movie than falling.

The threat of falling is constantly at play in this feature, though, so I guess it counts. The two main characters who’re at risk are Becky (Grace Caroline Currey) and Hunter (Virginia Gardner). Both women are experienced free-climbers who have thoroughly enjoyed the thrill.

However, after a personal tragedy during a climb where she lost her husband, Becky has given the practice up. That is until Hunter convinces her to climb an old antenna tower to help her overcome her trauma. The two do climb the structure, but in doing so, some of the ladders break off, leaving them without a path back down.

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REVIEW: Plaza positively shines in ‘Emily the Criminal’

Aubrey Plaza showed great acting skills in 2020’s “Black Bear” and she has followed it up with another strong performance this time around.

As the title implies, Plaza plays a young woman named Emily. Carrying a troubled past with her, Emily is down on her luck, working a bad job and paying off seemingly insurmountable loans.

Needing more income, she reluctantly decides to get involved in a credit card scam ring. While Emily starts having success, though, it pulls her deeper into a dangerous situation.

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REVIEW: Nobody needs to see ‘Bodies Bodies Bodies’

Not sure I would really classify this movie as a horror film. Although, the thought of watching it again is horrifying.

“Bodies Bodies Bodies” picks up with the character Bee (Maria Bakalova) accompanying her girlfriend Sophie (Amandla Stenberg) to a weekend get together. The event is taking place at the home of David (Pete Davidson), Sophia’s longtime friend.

Sophie’s arrival is a bit awkward, though, as she hasn’t seen David, or her other friends, in quite some time.To help lighten the mood, they decide to play a murder mystery game called “Bodies Bodies Bodies.” However, things take a drastic turn when someone actually ends up dead.

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REVIEW: While thought provoking, “Nope” is rarely gripping

“Nope” is a UFO movie. I’m resistant to using the Unidentified Aerial Phenomena term, UFO just sounds better.

In writer/director Jordan Peele’s newest film, Daniel Kaluuya and Keke Palmer star as O.J. and Em Haywood, respectively. The brother-sister duo inherited a ranch from their father where horses were raised and trained to be used in the entertainment industry.

The business is struggling lately, though, and to generate revenue, O.J. has been selling off the horses to Jupe Park (Steven Yeun), the owner of a nearby cowboy-inspired theme park. As time goes on, the family’s financial situation becomes a lesser issue, with strange and disturbing events beginning to happen, with a potential UFO in the area.

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REVIEW: ‘The Black Phone’ is a frightening delight

Hauntings are fairly common in horror films but “The Black Phone,” thankfully, puts a new twist on the concept.

The movie follows middle school student Finney (Mason Thames), a kid who lives in mid-size Colorado city with his sister Gwen (Madeleine McGraw) and father Terrence (Jeremy Davies). The community where Finney resides has been in a state of terror lately as several children have gone missing in recent weeks.

The suspect is only known as the Grabber (Ethan Hawke), and eventually, Finney becomes a target. Now kidnapped and locked in a basement, Finney has to try to survive, and ends up getting help from the spirits of the Grabber’s other victims, who speak with the protagonist through a disconnected black phone.

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REVIEW: ‘Firestarter’ is a faulty King adaptation

Stephen King is an iconic writer but the adaptations of his work have a tendency to be hit or miss. This new “Firestarter” movie is definitely one of the latter.

Zac Efron and Sydney Lemmon play parents of a daughter with a unique ability in the film. Their child, Charlie (Ryan Kiera Armstrong), has the ability to spontaneously create fire with her mind, although she can’t manage to fully control the power.

While her power is unique, though, her having an ability isn’t, as both her parents are also able to control things with their mind. This has put a target on the family by an organization set on controlling people with special powers. With Charlie’s powers more based on high emotions, it puts her family in a dangerous position, as their cover of being normal residents may be blown.

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REVIEW: Visually appealing ‘Outfit’ bogged down by plotting issues

The Chicago crime scene of years gone by is brought to life on a small scale in this bottle film.

Graham Moore makes his feature directorial debut with “The Outfit,” which centers on Leonard (Mark Rylance), an Englishman who owns a tailor shop in Chicago. The film’s protagonist runs an honest business, with the help of his secretary Mable (Zoey Deutch).

However, he has also set up a post box at his establishment used by crime organizations to communication. One night, this decision becomes a problem, as mafia members who’re customers of Leonard’s store begin using the shop as a place to go during a gang war. Leonard is then placed in a tense situation with dangerous men.

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REVIEW: Take a stroll in ‘Nightmare Alley’ for quality noir

A title like “Nightmare Alley” may inspire thoughts that this film is about fantastical monsters.

But director Guillermo del Toro’s latest film is about how ordinary men can be just as monstrous as fabled beasts.

Bradley Cooper stars as Stanton in the film, a man who’s clearly on the run from his past at the start of the movie. As the film takes place during the later years of the depression and Stanton needing work, he ends up taking an offer to work at a carnival.

There, he meets a husband and wife duo who have an act where they perform as a pair of psychics, although, their mind games are actually just coded words to make it appear that they have powers. Still, Stanton sees an opportunity for himself and decides he would like to do such an act, but his efforts to do so leads to dangers and conundrums.

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