Friday, August 5, 2022

Prey (2022)

Streaming Service: Hulu
Movie Name/Year: Prey (2022)
Genre: Action, Drama, Horror
Length: 1h 39min
Rating: R
Production/Distribution: 20th Century Studios, Davis Entertainment, Disney+, Hulu
Director: Dan Trachtenberg
Writer:  Patrick Aison, Dan Trachtenberg, Jim Thomas, John Thomas
Actors: Amber Midthunder, Dakota Beavers, Dane DiLiegro, Stormee Kipp, Michelle Thrush, Julian Black Antelope, Stefany Mathias, Bennett Taylor, Mike Paterson, Tymon Carter, Skye Pelletier, Harlan Blayne Kytwayhat, Corvin Mack, Samuel Marty
Blurb from IMDb: The origin story of the Predator in the world of the Comanche Nation 300 years ago. Naru, a skilled female warrior, fights to protect her tribe against one of the first highly-evolved Predators to land on Earth.

Selina’s Point of View:
I like the Predator (1987) series. Maybe for a different reason than most, though.
The first Predator (1987) was a good movie, but very ‘of its time.’ I’m not saying it doesn’t hold up, because it does, but it’s just very much an 80s film. It had the same campy tone as most of the action films that were put out in that decade – and the 80s/early 90s feel just got amped up in Predator 2 (1990). Anyone who watches either flick is going to know exactly when it was made.
I believe that, alone, the movie might have had a following, but it wouldn’t have remained this big if they’d have stuck to a normal sequel setting.
Predator 2 was not as beloved as the original. Taking the antagonist to the city is not what I mean. I mean that they turned the series into a kind of anthology. The big bad remains the central theme, while the settings and protagonists change from movie to movie. It allows us to get close to the story, without putting all our connection into a single set of protagonists. It’s an expansion of the world/universe, instead of a deeper examination of one story.
Not only does that keep us invested, but it makes pulling in new viewers easier. You don’t need to see any of the films that came before Prey to get just as deeply involved as someone who’s been watching the story unfold for the past 35 years.
I believe that’s why the Predator series has as much staying power as it does – and why it will continue well into the future.
This is also the exact reason why I 100% support utilizing newer voices for the direction and writing of Predator sequels – like Prey.
Director Dan Trachtenberg (10 Cloverfield Lane, The Boys, Black Mirror) has done a few episodes of random TV shows (and one full-length feature), while Patrick Aison (Treadstone, Kingdom, Wayward Pines) has similar credits to his name. Neither of them are big enough to have any kind of hardcore following yet. As a result, no one could have possibly known what to expect from them. This may not be an anthology film, but as an anthology series – I think it has the exact same kind of benefit.

Going into Prey all we knew was that there would be a Predator antagonist, and that it was a prequel. Trachtenberg and Aison took those facts and built up a film that absolutely crushed any expectations anyone could have had. They may not have had a hardcore following before this, but that’s definitely changed. Anytime I see either name in the credits of future films, it’s going to increase my excitement ten-fold.
I’m not afraid to say that Prey is the best film in the series. Including the first.
In fact, I couldn’t point out a flaw if I tried. The story was on point. The setting felt right. The sound design was just as iconic as ever. Even the characters had a depth to them that those in the other films lacked.
I can’t even say enough about the acting.
Amber Midthunder (Hell or High Water, Legion, The Ice Road) is new to me, but she has got some serious talent. Whether her character was fighting the Predator or interacting with her tribe, I believed every second of her performance. Her name is going to stick out in my mind, and I will be looking for her in the future. I think I’ll even look up her past performances.
Equally, Dakota Beavers felt just as perfect for his part. They all did, but Midthunder and Beavers stood out the most.
If you haven’t seen Prey, you need to. Especially if you’re a fan of the series, but even if you’re not.
As of right now, Prey’s my favorite movie of the year.

Cat’s Point of View:
The original Predator (1987) was a great blend of action, sci-fi, and monster movie genres. It holds a special place in my heart as one of the first few R-rated movies I watched as a kid. The sequels that followed didn’t really catch the same vibe as the original. They were fine but just didn’t share the same spark of the original film.
Prey was a game changer for the franchise. I felt a similar thrill to the original Predator with this new prequel.
I understand there was talk about Prey retconning the events from the Alien vs. Predator (2004) crossover movie. Aside from having a bad-ass female lead, that production really didn’t have a lot going for it anyway.
The cinematography for Prey was stunning. I loved the natural settings used as both elements of the story and backdrop.

I also appreciated that the production team did a great job of casting an appropriately diverse cast with actors of indigenous heritage for the primary roles. I was actually shocked to learn that this was Dakota Beavers' feature film debut. He apparently has an extensive background in performing in a musical setting, so I’m sure that helped a lot with the transition. I couldn’t tell that this was his first big gig. Hats off to him on that. I would be remiss if I didn’t also mention Amber Midthunder. Her role in Prey was so physical and she aced it like a true warrior. I loved that her character was intelligent and resourceful as well as strong-willed. She was exactly what the story needed, and she delivered.
If I had to pick one thing that bothered me a little about Prey, I would have to scramble to come up with something. Perhaps it would have been cool to have English subtitle translations for the indigenous speech and the small amount of French dialogue in the movie, but honestly, that’s splitting hairs. You didn’t need to know a literal translation to understand perfectly what was going on. It’s a mark of skillful storytelling of the production team as a whole – cast and crew – that everything made sense.
All told, if you don’t already have Hulu, or the Disney+ bundle that includes it, Prey is absolutely worth the subscription for this exclusively streaming release. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend Prey to fans of the franchise – or even those who might want to try it for the first time.

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 92%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 83%
Metascore – 70%
Metacritic User Score – 6.3
IMDB Score –7.2/10
Trust the Dice: Selina’s Rating 5/5
Trust the Dice: Cat’s Rating 5/5
Movie Trailer:

Wednesday, August 3, 2022

What Josiah Saw (2022)

Streaming Service: Shudder
Movie Name/Year: What Josiah Saw (2022)
Genre: Horror, Thriller
Length: 2h
Rating: Unrated
Production/Distribution: Randomix Productions, Shudder
Director: Vincent Grashaw
Writer: Robert Alan Dilts
Actors: Robert Patrick, Nick Stahl Scott Haze, Kelli Garner, Tony Hale, Jake Weber, Ronnie Gene Blevins
Blurb from IMDb: A family with buried secrets reunite at a farmhouse after two decades to pay for their past sins.

Selina’s Point of View:
There’s a lot of hype around What Josiah Saw. Critics are giving it heaps of praise – all based around how ‘haunting’ it is. I’ve even seen some describe it as ‘subtle’.
It made me wonder if I watched the correct movie.
What I saw was a melodramatic horror based purely on shock value, with absolutely no subtlety. The story was a regurgitated mess. The big twist was practically highlighted in the first 10-minutes. The rest of the film tried so hard to be edgy, that it felt like there was no substance.

I was either disturbed or bored for the majority of What Josiah Saw. There were a few decent moments in the middle, then it just went back to being obnoxious.
I will admit that the actors did a lot with what they had. There were also some beautiful shots near the end.
That said, I will not remember anything about this flick tomorrow. By the time we write out the end of year articles, I’ll forget What Josiah Saw ever existed.
If you want to see for yourself, What Josiah Saw comes out on Shudder August 4.

Cat’s Point of View:
It almost feels like calling What Josiah Saw a slow burn would be an understatement. Not everyone would enjoy the snail’s pace that this film crawled at. It stretched out the uncomfortable moments to a degree that I found myself checking the runtime progress more than once.
The usage of building up ominous tension is a tried-and-true horror story tool. When used in moderation, it sets up the shock and terror of the pay-off to great effect. Here, with What Josiah Saw, the story was a bit on the heavy-handed side with the build-up so that the ending felt almost abrupt in how everything was brought together.
At the same time, the narrative was effective in causing me to second-guess myself and the conclusions I drew from assembling these puzzle pieces.

One thing’s for sure – What Josiah Saw had an amazing cast that sold this disturbed family’s sordid tale well. I recognized many actors sprinkled throughout this production, but the primary characters, played by Robert Patrick (Scorpion, The Laundromat, Honest Thief), Scott Haze (The Vault, Venom, Antlers), Nick Stahl (Dead Awake, Hunter Hunter, Fear the Walking Dead: Dead in the Water), and Kelli Garner (The Lie, Horns, The Enemy Within) seared the screen with their performances.
I think that What Josiah Saw is going to linger and haunt me for a while. The uncomfortable squirmy feeling I had while watching has clung to me ever since the final credits rolled. It’s as if I need a shower to wash it off me. That speaks highly of the horror aspect of this movie. It was effective in that sense, and I have great respect for that. It was not, however, a story that I would call ‘entertaining.’
What Josiah Saw wouldn’t be a film to watch if you’re needing escapism or to turn off your brain and just enjoy something. It was heavy and poked at levels of curiosity while engaging the audience with dialogue that felt somewhat incongruent with the scenes it belonged to. I wouldn’t mind steering anyone to the movie if they’re a fan of cerebral horror. One of the best things about Shudder, however, is that there are many titles to choose from – so that if this one doesn’t fit your mood, there’s definitely a title available that will.

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 92%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – None
Metascore – None
Metacritic User Score – None
IMDB Score – 6.9/10
Trust the Dice: Selina’s Rating 1.5/5
Trust the Dice: Cat’s Rating 3/5
Trust-the-Dice’s Parental Advisory Rating: R
Movie Trailer:

Monday, August 1, 2022

Top 20 Movies to Look Out For In August (2022)

According to: Selina
20 – 13: The Musical (8/12)

Production/Distribution: Netflix, Zadan / Meron Productions
Director: Tamra Davis
Writer: Jason Robert Brown, Dan Elish, Robert Horn
Actors: Josh Peck, Rhea Perlman, Peter Hermann, Debra Messing, JD McCrary, Eli Golden, Frankie McNellis
Genre: Comedy, Drama, Family
Rated: PG
Length: 1h 31min
IMDb Blurb: After his parents' divorce, Evan Goldman moves from NYC to small-town Indiana. As his 13th birthday nears, he must master the complex social circles of his new school and win friends by turning his Bar Mitzvah into the coolest party ever.
For most of my life movie musicals had a bit of a stigma to them. Unless they were Disney flicks, liking them got you a bit teased. Somewhere between Chicago (2002) and Hamilton (2020) that changed, because I’ve seen a rise in adored musicals since then.
Everything has gotten the musical treatment in past decade. Biographies, toys, break-ups, villains, zombies, and even basic cartoons have crossed my screen with toe-tapping numbers.
Now we’re looking at a very specific coming-of-age story. 13: The Musical looks like it’s going to be heartfelt and easy to relate to. The only reason it’s this low on my list, is because anything following 13-year-olds will inevitably have SOME cringe in it, which is not my favorite.
Hopefully, this flick doesn’t delve too deep into that cringe-factor.
19 – Mack & Rita (8/12)

Production/Distribution: CaliWood Pictures, Hercules Film Fund, Hungry Bull Productions, Page Fifty-Four Pictures, Rhea Films (II), Gravitas Ventures, Gravitas Premiere, ACE Entertainment, Hulu
Director: Katie Aselton
Writer: Madeline Walter, Paul Welsh
Actors: Diane Keaton, Martin Short, Wendie Malick, Dustin Milligan, Elizabeth Lail, Aimee Carrero, Simon Rex, Loretta Devine, Nicole Byer
Genre: Comedy, Drama
Rated: PG-13
Length: 1h 35min
IMDb Blurb: A 30-year-old writer (Elizabeth Lail) spends a wild weekend in Palm Springs and wakes up to find she has magically transformed into her 70-year-old self (Diane Keaton).
Mack & Rita has a cute 13 Going on 30 (2004) style story. It examines that wish that everyone has to be older, or younger, depending on where they are in life. Like all stories that examine similar themes, I expect this flick to point out the stuff you miss by not appreciating where you are.
Naturally, I’m not expecting Mack & Rita to be the most unique film I’ve ever seen. It is, however, wrapped in a slightly more original packaging. Normally, in these stories, you see a kid that wants to be grown – or someone older who wants to be young. This is the first time I’ve seen a 30-year-old want to be elderly. It does offer a different spin that has potential to elevate the whole thing.
18 – Summering (8/12)

Production/Distribution: 3311 Productions, A Bigger Boat, Ninety-One Braves, Bleecker Street Media, Stage 6 Films
Director: James Ponsoldt
Writer: Benjamin Percy, James Ponsoldt
Actors: Lia Barnett, Sanai Victoria, Madalen Mills, Eden Grace Redfield, Lake Bell, Sarah Cooper, Ashley Madekwe, Megan Mullally
Genre: Drama
Rated: PG-13
Length: 1h 27mins
IMDb Blurb: During their last days of summer and childhood -- the weekend before middle school begins -- four girls struggle with the harsh truths of growing up and embark on a mysterious adventure.
Although I know the main influence of Summering is probably Stand By Me (1986), it reminds me more of Now and Then (1995).
Now and Then was one of those films that transformed me as a teenager. It gave me a look at what being older might be like, along with a story that spoke to me as a young girl. So, even though it was pretty much just a gender-swapped take of Stand by Me, it had a greater hold on me.
Summering looks like it could do the same thing for the younger generations.
Right now, critics are giving Summering a 40% on Rotten Tomatoes, but I’m not overly surprised about it. Now and Then was not received well by critics either, it’s sitting at a 33%, but audiences were a different story. Audiences have lifted Now and Then to a respectable 82%. I urge people to remember that when it comes time to decide whether to see Summering. Right now, only critics with access to film festival showings have had say on it. I expect audience scores to reflect something different after it’s been out for a few days.
17 – Look Both Ways (8/17)

Production/Distribution: Catchlight Studios, Screen Arcade, Netflix
Director: Wanuri Kahiu
Writer: April Prosser
Actors: Lili Reinhart, Luke Wilson, Andrea Savage, David Corenswet, Danny Ramirez, Nia Long
Genre: Comedy, Drama, Romance
Rated: Unrated
Length: 1h 50min
IMDb Blurb: On the eve of her college graduation, Natalie's life diverges into parallel realities: one in which she becomes pregnant and remains in her hometown to raise her child and another in which she moves to LA to pursue her dream career.
We all have ‘what ifs’. That alone makes Look Both Ways relatable.
I’d love to know what would have happened at each of my crossroad moments. I think it’s normal to think about it. But there’s never a concrete answer if things would have been better or worse. Look Both Ways gives us the satisfaction of seeing both stories play out.
Although I considered putting this film higher on my list, I stopped to really think about it. A movie like Look Both Ways, that has two stories that never intersect, has a ton of ways to go wrong. Every step could lead to doom. The actors could react to the wrong story, the direction could cause the transitions to be confusing, the writing could be off… even the costume directors could have the wrong version of the main character in mind during a fitting.
I have faith in Look Both Ways, but I also acknowledge that there’s a lot I can’t account for.
I’m looking forward to seeing how it turns out.
16 – Easter Sunday (8/5)

Production/Distribution: Amblin Partners, Dreamworks Pictures, Rideback, Universal Pictures, NOS Audiovisuais, Universal Pictures International (UPI)
Director: Jay Chandrasekhar
Writer: Kate Angelo, Ken Cheng
Actors: Jo Koy, Lydia Gaston, Brandon Wardell, Eva Noblezada, Carly Pope, Tia Carrere, Melody Butiu, Joey Guila, Rodney To, Jay Chandrasekhar
Genre: Comedy
Rated: PG-13
Length: Unknown
IMDb Blurb: Set around a family gathering to celebrate Easter Sunday, the comedy is based on Jo Koy's life experiences and stand-up comedy.
Joy Koy (Josep, Anastasia, Wake.) is a funny guy, and his sense of humor is all over Easter Sunday. Since the whole thing is based on his comedy sets and life, that’s not surprising. What it does, however, is give me a whole lot of faith in it.
Koy never fails to make me laugh, and I think the same is going to go for this film.
If you enjoy Joy Koy’s work, you’re almost guaranteed to like Easter Sunday.
15 – Fall (8/12)

Production/Distribution: Tea Shop Productions, Capstone Studios, BfParis, Warner Bros. Singapore, Lionsgate, Signature Entertainment, VVS Films
Director: Scott Mann
Writer: Jonathan Frank, Scott Mann
Actors: Grace Caroline Currey, Virginia Gardner, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Mason Gooding
Genre: Thriller
Rated: PG-13
Length: 1h 47min
IMDb Blurb: Best friends Becky and Hunter find themselves at the top of a 2,000-foot radio tower.
The way the trailer shows Fall starting reminds me of the beginning of The Descent (2005). The main character is being dragged out by a friend to do something they enjoyed doing with a late spouse. It’s a somewhat overused trope in horror films, but it’s hardly the worst there is out there.
What really draws me in is the idea of the setting.
When horror films are set in a single location, they are usually banking on claustrophobia to heighten anxiety. In movies like Fall there’s still a bit of that claustrophobia, but the feeling is even deeper because the wide-open setting makes it seem like it shouldn’t be an issue.
There are several other fears being poked at by Fall, as well. I think that gives it a chance of speaking to even more people.
The flick will ride on the backs of the two main actors, though. I’m not overly familiar with Grace Caroline Currey (Shazam!, Annabelle: Creation, Revenge) or Virginia Gardner (Starfish, Goat, Halloween), however, so I can’t say whether I believe in them, or not. I can say that I’m hopeful and, if they can pull it off, it will be a huge point in their favor. With just them on screen, Fall lives, or dies, with them.
14 – They/Them (8/5)

Production/Distribution: Blumhouse Productions, Peacock
Director: John Logan
Writer: John Logan
Actors: Kevin Bacon, Anna Chlumsky, Theo Germaine, Quei Tann, Austin Crute, Monique Kim, Anna Lore, Cooper Koch, Darwin del Fabro
Genre: Horror, Thriller
Rated: Unrated
Length: 1h 30min
IMDb Blurb: LGBTQIA+ empowerment tale set at a gay conversion camp.
They/Them is set at a conversion camp. That alone makes it terrifying. The fact that conversion camps still (or ever did) exist is already a horrific thought. When you add to it whatever supernatural twist they have prepared, the awfulness is heightened.
Kevin Bacon’s (Patriots’ Day, Black Mass, Crazy Stupid Love) character seems like that character that acts like a good guy, but knowing him as the owner of the camp immediately adds a sinister nature. It makes you wonder if his character knows that he’s a bad guy, or if he genuinely believes he’s good. (I assure you, if you are a part of any of these conversion camps, or sending anyone to them, you are the worst kind of person, and nothing can change my mind on that.)
I can only hope they don’t try to redeem Bacon’s character.
The trailer does like good. It seems like They/Them is going to get the pulse racing. The only reason it’s so low on my list is because the creative team could wind up handling the subject matter badly, and that makes me nervous. I see Bacon’s involvement as a sign that they likely got it right, though.
13 – Emily the Criminal (8/12)

Production/Distribution: Low Spark Films, Roadside Attractions, Vertical Entertainment
Director: John Patton Ford
Writer: John Patton Ford
Actors: Aubrey Plaza, Theo Rossi, Jonathan Avigdori, Gina Gershon, Bernardo Badillo, Wesley Han
Genre: Crime, Drama, Thriller
Rated: R
Length: 1h 33 minutes
IMDb Blurb: Down on her luck and saddled with debt, Emily gets involved in a credit card scam that pulls her into the criminal underworld of Los Angeles, ultimately leading to deadly consequences.
There’s a trope in crime thrillers that shows average people being pulled into deadly schemes because of something awful that’s happened to them. That trope is one of my favorites, because I feel that speaks to a great many people. Not because it’s what they would do, but because people always wonder what would make criminals do the things they do. It’s easy to forget that the majority of criminals were basic people that had horrible things happen to them to push them into what they became.
Seeing this kind of story from beginning to end reminds people that you can’t possibly know what you would do in someone else’s shoes until you’re there.
Still, it’s a common trope. It’s not the kind of thing that would draw me in, just a bonus once I’m there.
What I’m looking forward to in Emily the Criminal is seeing Aubrey Plaza (Happiest Season, Ingrid Goes West, Funny People) use her unique style in a part that is completely straight-faced. I’m a big fan of Plaza in her comedic roles. I’ve seen her utilize the same kind of sarcastic façade to successfully play the kind of character that comes off as insane, even scary. But I’ve never seen her in anything where she played a completely serious character.
Unless the marketing is VERY off on Emily the Criminal, that’s what she’ll be doing.
I’m here for it.
12 – Prey (8/5)

Production/Distribution: 20th Century Studios, Davis Entertainment, Disney+, Hulu
Director: Dan Trachtenberg
Writer: Patrick Aison
Actors: Amber Midthunder, Dane DiLiegro, Harlan Blayne Kytwayhat, Dakota Beavers, Geronimo Velo, Stefany Mathias
Genre: Action, Drama, Horror
Rated: R
Length: 1h 39min
IMDb Blurb: The origin story of the Predator in the world of the Comanche Nation 300 years ago. Naru, a skilled female warrior, fights to protect her tribe against one of the first highly-evolved Predators to land on Earth.
The Predator series is a classic. There will always be someone looking for the next chapter. I believe this is a prequel, and I’m feeling optimistic about it.
Dan Trachtenberg (10 Cloverfield Lane, The Boys, Black Mirror) is a newer, but promising director. I feel that giving Prey to someone that’s a little less known was a good idea. Part of what I like about the series, is that there are distinct differences between each installation. Even for me, it’s nearly impossible to get what happened in which flick mixed up. Leaning into those differences is a good choice, and using a fresh voice is a great start.
All of which is the exact argument I would use in support of Prey’s screenplay writer, Patrick Aison (Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan, Wayward Pines, Kingdom).
There’s always the possibility that big series additions are going to go bad. As it stands, currently, I’m hopeful about Prey.
11 – Thirteen Lives (8/5)

Production/Distribution: Storyteller Productions, Magnolia Mae Films, Imagine Entertainment, BRON Studios, Xm2 Pursuit, United Artists Releasing (2022), Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM), Universal Pictures
Director: Ron Howard
Writer: William Nicholson, Don MacPherson
Actors: Viggo Mortensen, Colin Farrell, Joel Edgerton, Paul Gleeson, Tom Bateman
Genre: Biography, Drama, Thriller
Rated: PG-13
Length: 2h 27min
IMDb Blurb: A rescue mission is assembled in Thailand where a group of young boys and their soccer coach are trapped in a system of underground caves that are flooding.
The events of this film feel much closer than they are. I remember following the story of kids trapped in a cave. Maybe it feels like it just happened because the last three years all feel like one year drawn out.
As a result, I do feel like it’s a little early for movies to be made about the situation. Cat had the point that it was a mostly successful mission, so it would make sense for the tale to be told sooner. I’ve decided to go with that.
The trailer looks good. Anyone who didn’t follow the story should get that ‘edge of the seat’ feel as rescuers fight to get to those who were trapped, while those of us who did follow along will get a visual of what we’d read about.
The cast doesn’t have a weak link among them, and they’re led by none-other than Ron Howard (We Feed People, Rebuilding Paradise, Rush). I think it would take more effort to make Thirteen Lives bad than it would to make it awesome.

10 – Luck (8/5)

Production/Distribution: Skydance Animation, Paramount Pictures, Apple Original Films, Ilion Animation Studios, Skydance Media, Apple TV+
Director: Peggy Holmes
Writer: Kiel Murray, Jonathan Aibel, Glenn Berger
Actors: Eva Noblezada, Simon Pegg, Jane Fonda, Whoopi Goldberg, Flula Borg, Lil Rel Howery, Colin O’Donoghue, John Ratzenberger
Genre: Animation, Adventure, Comedy
Rated: G
Length: 1h 45min
IMDb Blurb: The curtain is pulled back on the millennia-old battle between the organizations of good luck and bad luck that secretly affects everyday lives.
I have not had the best experience with Apple TV+ originals. Luck seems like it might change that.
The trailer really builds Luck up to seem like a lot of fun. There are a few goofy moments, but the humor seems more situational, and the themes seem to be the kind we all tend to debate.
I like kid movies that tread on philosophical themes. Luck is a good subject to discuss. Especially the past few years when a string of bad luck can seem a bit more inevitable than usual. I’ve definitely fallen into that hole at times.
My hope is that Luck goes into the idea that you can change your own luck. That’s my favorite take on it.
Either way, it looks promising.
9 – The Invitation (8/26)
Production/Distribution: Mid Atlantic Films, Screen Gems, Sony Pictures Entertainment, Sony Pictures Releasing Argentina, Sony Pictures Releasing International, Sony Pictures Releasing, United International Pictures (UIP)
Director: Jessica M. Thompson
Writer: Jessica M. Thompson, Blair Butler
Actors: Nathalie Emmanuel, Thomas Doherty, Stephanie Corneliussen, Alana Boden, Hugh Skinner
Genre: Horror, Thriller
Rated: Unrated
Length: Unknown Length
IMDb Blurb: A young woman is courted and swept off her feet, only to realize a gothic conspiracy is afoot.
I get Ready or Not (2019) vibes from The Invitation. There’s obviously a lot more to the story in this film, but it’s not really the story causing the comparison. Instead, it’s the overall feel: the family of seemingly nice people with a devious ulterior motive, the running and hiding, and the high stakes. All of it brings me back to the feel of the aforementioned horror flick.
I LOVED Ready or Not. If I find cause to compare something to it, that’s more of a compliment than I can express.  
In this case, although the feel is the same, there’s definitely a whole lot more to The Invitation. I think that could have the potential to add depth. There are some possible pitfalls to consider, but I think it’s going to rise to expectations. Especially with Nathalie Emmanuel (Game of Thrones, Furious 7, Army of Thieves) in the starring role.
8 – Bodies Bodies Bodies (8/5)

Production/Distribution: 2AM, A24, Stage 6 Films, Universal Pictures International (UPI)
Director: Halina Reijn
Writer: Sarah DeLappe, Kristen Roupenian
Actors: Amandla Stenberg, Maria Bakalova, Rachel Sennott, Chase Sui Wonders, Pete Davidson, Myha’la Herrold, Lee Pace, Connor O’Malley
Genre: Comedy, Horror, Thriller
Rated: R
Length: 1h 35min
IMDb Blurb: When a group of rich 20-somethings plan a hurricane party at a remote family mansion, a party game turns deadly in this fresh and funny look at backstabbing, fake friends, and one party gone very, very wrong.
I was surprised that I hadn’t heard anything about Bodies Bodies Bodies before our August Top 20 stream.
I’m a fan of Pete Davidson’s (The Suicide Squad, The King of Staten Island, Big Time Asolescence). Ever since I saw him in Set It Up (2018). I’d seen him in stuff before that, but that film is where he really clicked for me. The comedic timing he displayed was top notch. In a horror-comedy like Bodies Bodies Bodies, that’s going to make him exceptionally valuable.
Amandla Stenberg (The Hate You Give, Dear Evan Hansen, Lemonade) is the other stand-out among the cast. She’s a phenomenal young actor, but I’ve only ever seen her portray serious characters. I’m looking forward to seeing what she can do with a part that she can relax into. I don’t really know her sense of humor, but I cannot wait to find out.
The whole flick feels very elder-gen-Z, and I do not hate that idea. The trailer looks funny, of our time, and brutal. It’s exactly what I would want from a horror-comedy.
7 – Secret Headquarters (8/5)

Production/Distribution: Jerry Bruckheimer Films, Paramount Pictures, Paramount Pictures International, United International Pictures (UIP), Paramount+
Director: Henry Joost, Ariel Schulman
Writer: Josh Koenigsberg, Henry Joost, Ariel Schulman, Christopher L. Yost
Actors: Owen Wilson, Michael Peña, Walker Scobell, Jesse Williams, Levy Tran, Jessie Mueller, Momona Tamada, Abby James Witherspoon
Genre: Action, Adventure, Comedy
Rated: PG
Length: 1h 29min
IMDb Blurb: While hanging out after school, Charlie and his friends discover the headquarters of the world's most powerful superhero hidden beneath his home. When villains attack, they must team up to defend the headquarters and save the world.
How cute does this look?
Secret Headquarters doesn’t look all that original, but it utilizes some beloved tropes to put together a fun, light-hearted, superhero story. We all need our heroes right now and giving kids the insight that their parents might be able to fill that role is something I can get behind.
The cast is strong, as well. Owen Wilson (Loki, Marry Me, Father Figures), Michael Peña (Fantasy Island, Ant-Man and the Wasp, 12 Strong), and Jesse Williams (The Cabin in the Woods, Grey’s Anatomy, Station 19) all have some serious talent. And the former two have plenty of experience in superhero stories as well.
Walker Scobell (Percy Jackson and the Olympians, All About, Front Row Flynn) is young still, and newer to acting, but if you saw The Adam Project (2022) then you know this kid has got skills that are just waiting to be shaped. He didn’t just hold his own acting across from Ryan Reynolds (Free Guy, Red Notice, Deadpool), he heightened every interaction they had. I’m truly excited to see him continue on in his career.
6 – Carter (8/5)

Production/Distribution: Apeitda, Netflix
Director: Byung-gil Jung
Writer: Byung-gil Jung, Byeong-sik Jung
Actors: Camilla Belle, Joo Won, Andreas Fronk, Sung-Jae Lee, Jeong Sori, Kim Bo-Min
Genre: Action, Thriller
Rated: Unrated
Length: 2h 12min
IMDb Blurb: Thrown straight into a dangerous mission with none of his memories intact, a man must escape death while trying to figure out who he is, how he ended up here, and who is the mysterious voice in his ear calling him "Carter"?
Netflix is bringing us the action this month. Carter looks like a mash-up of The Bourne Identity (2002) and Extraction (2020). There’s intrigue and edge-of-your-seat fight choreography, with some intense cinematography.
I’m also a fan of Korean director Byung-gil Jung (The Villainess, Confession of Murder, Action Boys). He’s got some serious style in his films, and I think he’ll become more internationally recognized as he expands his filmography.
I’m really looking forward to seeing what he did with Carter.
5 – Beast (8/19)

Production/Distribution: Universal Pictures, RVK Studios, Will Packer Productions, United International Pictures (UIP), Universal Pictures Argentina, Universal Pictures International (UPI)
Director: Baltasar Kormákur
Writer: Ryan Engle, Jaime Primak Sullivan
Actors: Idris Elba, Sharlto Copley, Iyana Halley, Leah Jeffries, Mel Jarnson
Genre: Adventure, Drama, Horror
Rated: R
Length: Unknown
IMDb Blurb: A father and his two teenage daughters find themselves hunted by a massive rogue lion intent on proving that the Savanna has but one apex predator.
Creature features are my guilty pleasure – whatever form they come in. Whether it’s an invasion of giant spiders, a mechanical version of something, or a weather formation of sharks… I’m there. I know the majority of them aren’t great flicks, but there are exceptions.
Jaws (1975), Jurassic Park (1993), The Host (2006), Arachnophobia (1990), Tremors (1990), Gremlins (1984)… are all well-loved, high-rated creature features served up with various levels of seriousness. I think it’s possible that Beast may join their ranks.
The most recent efforts of director Baltasar Kormákur (Adrift, The Oath, Everest) have mostly gotten extremely high scores with both critics and audience. When you match that up with the charisma and pure star power of the glorious Idris Elba (The Harder They Fall, Concrete Cowboy, The Suicide Squad), you have the building blocks of something great.
Is there still a possibility that Beast will wind up being more on the campy side? Sure. But – at least for me – that’s not a deal-breaker.
Also, I don’t want to hear a single complaint about the part of the trailer that suggests there will be a scene of Elba fighting a lion bare-handed. So many people bitched about NOT getting that scene at the end of The Grey (2011) between Liam Neeson (Ordinary Love, Cold Pursuit, Widows) and the wolves that I just don’t want to hear it. If you wanted that scene but are skeptical of this one, you need to check yourself.
4 – Day Shift (8/12)

Production/Distribution: Impossible Dream Entertainment, 87Eleven Entertainment, Netflix
Director: J.J. Perry
Writer: Shay Hatten, Tyler Tice
Actors: Jamie Fox, Dave Franco, Snoop Dogg, Karla Souza, Meagan Good, Natasha Liu Bordizzo, Scott Adkins
Genre: Action, Comedy, Fantasy
Rated: R
Length: Unknown
IMDb Blurb: A hard-working, blue-collar dad who just wants to provide a good life for his quick-witted 8-year-old daughter. His mundane San Fernando Valley pool cleaning job is a front for his real source of income: hunting and killing vampires.
I could go into how bad-ass Jamie Foxx (Spider-Man: No Way Home, Soul, Hitsville: The Making of Motown) is, how funny Dave Franco (Zola, If Beale Street Could Talk, The Disaster Artist) is, or how Snoop Dogg (Blood Pageant, Domino: Battle of the Bones, Dolemite is My Name) makes everything better, but that wouldn’t go into the thing that pushed Day Shift so high up on my list.
For that, I have to discuss the director: J.J. Perry (F9: The Fast Saga, John Wick, London Has Fallen).
A quick google search will tell you that this is Perry’s directorial debut. That might encourage some confusion as to why he’s the big sell on Day Shift, when there are much bigger names involved.
If you ignored his 149 stunt credits, then you haven’t been paying attention.
I was floored by the action sequences in Extraction. Whether you loved the film or not is irrelevant. The action scenes were objectively amazing. Including one part that required director Sam Hargrave (Avengers: Endgame, The Accountant, Unlucky Stars) to strap on a camera and do the stunt with the people involved in order to capture it.
I attributed the success of the action in that film to the fact that Hargrave, also in his full-length feature film debut as a director, was better known as a stuntman.
Since then, I’ve done some research, and I know now that it’s common for actions flicks to succeed when they’re directed by former stunt people. It’s not even a new thing, it’s just more noticeable. This kind of thing goes all the way back to Hal Needham (Rad, The Cannonball Run, Hooper), who was known for his stunts before he directed Smokey and the Bandit (1977).
For newer examples you have people like David Leitch (Nobody, Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw, Deadpool 2), who went from stunts to directing Atomic Blonde (2017) and Chad Stahelski, (The Matrix Resurrections, John Wick: Chapter 2, John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum) who took a break from kicking ass to start us on the blood-pumping John Wick (2014) ride.
When you give an action film to a director that truly knows the limits of what the human body can accomplish, you get some seriously flawless scenes. That’s what I’m expecting here.
I feel like Day Shift is an easy pick for a high spot on my list. Even if nothing else meets expectations, you can expect the stunts to be fire.
3 – Breaking (8/26)

Production/Distribution: Salmira Productions, Little Lamb, UpperRoom Productions, EPIC Magazine, Bleecker Street Media
Director: Abi Damaris Corbin
Writer: Abi Damaris Corbin, Kwame Kwei-Armah
Actors: John Boyega, Nicole Beharie, Selenis Leyva, Michael Kenneth Williams, Connie Britton, Jeffrey Donovan, Olivia Washington
Genre: Crime, Drama, Thriller
Rated: PG-13
Length: 1h 43min
IMDb Blurb: A Marine war veteran faces mental and emotional challenges when he tries to reintegrate back into civilian life.
Breaking seems like it’s going to be a punch in the gut. I was not aware of the story that this film was based on, but it seems like something everyone should be aware of.
The trailer indicated that there’s a veteran involved that’s being screwed over. The huge number of stories you could find of this exact same thing happening to veterans all over the country is sickening. If you’ve been paying any attention at all, you’re already angry.
On top of the importance of the subject matter, there’s a cast that absolutely shines. John Boyega (Detroit, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Imperial Dreams), Nicole Beharie (Miss Juneteenth, Monsters and Men, 42), Selenis Leyva (I Can I Will I Did, Spider-Man: Homecoming, Chapter & Verse), Michael Kenneth Williams (12 Years a Slave, Body Brokers, The Land), and Connie Britton (Promising Young Woman, Bombshell, The Mustang) are all brilliant actors that could elevate anything.
I’m looking forward to this one, but I’m guessing it’s going to be a painful watch.
2 – Bullet Train (8/5)

Production/Distribution: 87North, CTB Inc., Hill District Media, Columbia Pictures, Sony Pictures Entertainment (SPE), Big Picture 2 Films, HKC Entertainment, Sony Pictures Entertainment, Sony Pictures Releasing Argentina, Sony Pictures Releasing International, Sony Pictures Releasing, United International Pictures (UIP), Universal Pictures International (UPI)
Director: David Leitch
Writer: Kôtarô Isaka, Zak Olkewicz
Actors: Brad Pitt, Sandra Bullock, Joey King, Zazie Beetz, Karen Fukuhara, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Michael Shannon, Logan Lerman, Hiroyuki Sanada, Bad Bunny
Genre: Action, Thriller
Rated: R
Length: 2h 6min
IMDb Blurb: Five assassins aboard a fast moving bullet train find out their missions have something in common.
Talking about stunt people becoming actors, Bullet Train is our next flick from David Leitch and the action seems even more creative than I could have expected. The quiet car scene in the trailer? I cannot wait to see the whole scene in context.
Everything about this trailer is awesome. There’s a comedy highlighted that meshes really well with the setting and action.
Bullet Train is going to be amazing.
1 – Three Thousand Years of Longing (8/31)

Production/Distribution: Kennedy Miller Mitchell, Kennedy Miller Productions, FilmNation Entertainment, CAA Media Finance, Elevate Production Finance, United Artists Releasing, Ascot Elite Entertainment Group, Blue Lantern Entertainment International, Eagle Pictures, Golden Scene, IDC, Kino Films, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM), Metropolitan Filmexport, Monolith Films, NOS Audiovisuais, Nordisk Film, PVR Pictures, Sam Film, TriPictures, Universal Pictures, Volga, DeAPlaneta, Leonine Distribution, Sunac, The Searchers
Director: George Miller
Writer: George Miller, Augusta Gore, A.S. Byatt
Actors: Tilda Swinton, Idris Elba, Pia Thunderbolt, Berk Ozturk
Genre: Drama, Fantasy, Romance
Rated: R
Length: 1h 48min
IMDb Blurb: A lonely scholar, on a trip to Istanbul, discovers a Djinn who offers her three wishes in exchange for his freedom.
You’ll never hear me complain about getting an extra Idris Elba flick on my list. I’m absolutely here for it. In this case, I feel like the trailer speaks for itself.
I had no clue what this film was when it turned up in our trailers, but it stabbed itself right into my brain and refused to become dislodged. I have so many questions about the characters, and the story, that I NEED to have answered.
Three Thousand Years of Longing is an example of extremely well-done marketing. I went from never having heard about it, to looking forward to seeing it in theaters immediately upon release – with one trailer.
Movies to Look out For
According to: Cat
They/Them .20
Rogue Agent .19
The Immaculate Room .18
Maneater .17
Easter Sunday .16
Fall .15
Me Time .14
Bodies Bodies Bodies .13
Carter .12
Three Thousand Years of Longing .11
The Invitation .10
Secret Headquarters .9
Thirteen Lives .8
Breaking .7
Samaritan .6
Prey .5
Luck .4
Beast .3
Day Shift .2
Bullet Train .1