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: Getting to know ‘Pearl’ is amusing and frightening

The beginning of Pearl’s path from sweet farm girl to the woman she became in the film “X” is on full, technicolor display in this prequel.

Taking place in 1918, “Pearl” follows the titular character, played by Mia Goth, as she descends into madness. There are a few factors pushing her there, but the main one is her mother, Ruth (Tandi Wright).

Ruth is a domineering woman, never showing compassion to her daughter and instead deriding her for wanting something beyond the farm life. That something is a career in dance, but as time gets closer to an audition that could give Pearl an escape, things begin to happen that awaken a darkness in the character.

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REVIEW: Quiet thriller ‘God’s Country’ features a captivating character journey

The loneliness and isolation that comes with living in the country is certainly well represented in this picture.

Thandiwe Newton stars as Sandra in the feature directed and written by Julian Higgins. A college professor, Sandra is a woman who has just lost her mother and now lives alone in rural Montana.

The movie picks up with her one day noticing a red truck on her property, owned by two hunters. She asks them to stop coming onto her property, but they refuse. Their willingness to continue begins an escalation between the characters that pushes Sandra to her limits.

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REVIEW: ‘Barbarian’ successfully brings horror to the Airbnb scene

Ah, Detroit. Home of the Red Wings, thick square pizza and, according to this movie, cavernous, dungeon-like basements.

Tess (Georgina Campbell) is in Detroit for a job interview and, rather than rent a hotel room, she decided to stay at an Airbnb. She successfully arrives at the location, but, to her surprise, it’s already occupied by another individual, Keith (Bill Skarsgard).

As it turns out, both Tess and Keith managed to rent the same property through different websites. With a storm raging outside and few vacancies around, Keith suggests Tess stay at the house and they work things out the next day. Tess agrees, but right from the start, she notices strange things about the home.

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REVIEW: Toss this ‘Invitation,’ the event isn’t worth going

“The Invitation” is a film with a rather entertaining finale. It’s just a shame an audience has to sit through a whole lot of nothing to get there.

Nathalie Emmanuel stars as Evie in this supposed horror picture. The film picks up with the aspiring artist and catering server learning more about her ancestry, and, as it turns out, she is related to a wealthy family in England and decides to meet-up with her newly discovered cousin, Oliver (Hugh Skinner).

Oliver extends an invitation to Evie to meet more of her relatives at a wedding event being held at an estate belonging to Walter (Thomas Doherty), a longtime family friend. While a bit nervous about all the new developments, Evie decides to travel to England for the wedding. However, just as she starts to settle in, Evie begins noticing some creepy things.

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REVIEW: Elba and B-movie excitement salvage ‘Beast’

Some of Idris Elba’s characters in his career would probably stand a good chance beating a lion, such as the sword-wielder Heimdall from the “Thor” series or the sharpshooter Bloodsport from “Suicide Squad.”

Unfortunately for his character in “Beast,” Elba plays just a regular guy who has to protect his family from a big cat in Africa. He portrays Dr. Nate Samuels in the film, father of Norah (Leah Jeffries) and Meredith (Iyana Halley).

Nate is trying to rebuild his relationship with his daughters in “Beast,” after the two girls lost their mother and felt their dad wasn’t around enough. Nate’s plan is to bring the family on a tour of a wildlife reserve where his friend Martin (Sharlto Copley) works. Things are going well enough until they are attacked by a vicious lion and are placed in a battle for survival.

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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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