Release Radar – May 13th, 2022

There are a lot more releases this week that are willing to test the waters as Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness heads into its second week, but 70% of the movies on the calendar are heading either straight to streaming or including a video-on-demand release.

Our Father (Netflix May 11th)

Director: Lucie Jourdan

Starring: Donald Cline – self (archive), Jacoba Ballard – self, Debbie Pierce – self

Netflix got the ball rolling this week with a Wednesday release in the true crime genre that’s right in their wheelhouse. I remember listening to a podcast about this story and listening to the scope of Cline’s perverse story is quite astonishing. It’s tough to tell exactly how Netflix is going to handle it but it’s always a risk when dealing with re-enactment style storytelling. That doesn’t mean it can’t be a compelling documentary but it does push it towards a different territory.

Firestarter (Theaters + Peacock)

Writer: Scott Teems (screenplay), Stephen King (novel) | Director: Keith Thomas

Starring: Zac Efron, Ryan Kiera Armstrong, and Sydney Lemmon

I watched the 1984 Firestarter as a kid because my mom was a Stephen King fan. I liked it and still look back on it fondly for its style at the time. However, at no point in my adult life did I ever stop and think to myself, “Hey. Do you know what I want to see? A Firestarter remake.” In that way, it’s actually pretty interesting this movie was chosen to be remade but Blumhouse has a pretty strong reputation for horror films so there’s always a chance that lands. The trailer has a kind of TV movie vibe and it’s releasing straight to Peacock, so that helps keep my expectations in check.

The Innocents (Theaters + VOD)

Written & Directed by: Eskil Vogt

Starring: Rakel Lenora Fløttum, Alva Brynsmo Ramstad, and Sam Ashraf

Superpowered children seem to be the theme of the week and Eskil Vogt’s sophomore feature appears to take a darker approach. Vogt is coming off penning the screenplay for Joachim Trier’s critically acclaimed The Worst Person in the World and I enjoyed his directorial debut (Thelma) as well, so I am intrigued by this new project. Beyond the superpowers aspect, it looks like the real focus is how the environment around these kids affects their behavior.

*On the Count of Three (Theaters) – Editor’s Pick*

Writers: Ari Katcher, Ryan Welch | Director: Jerrod Carmichael

Starring: Jerrod Carmichael, Christopher Abbott, and Tiffany Haddish

Jerrod Carmichael pulls double duty, making his directorial debut and starring in the lead of this dark comedy about a pair of friends who have a loosely arranged suicide pact. This is also the first feature for Ari Katcher and Ryan Welch but they have worked together on Ramy and SNL. Suicide and mental health topics are especially delicate because, in the context of a dark comedy, it may be tough to give the subject matter the proper respect. I really like Christopher Abbott and his role selection lately and I am confident in what he brings to this project. I had a tough time assigning the Editor’s Pick this week, but I gave it to this one because it seems to be the most challenging.

Pleasure (Theaters)

Writers: Ninja Thyberg, Peter Modestij | Director: Ninja Thyberg

Starring: Sofia Kappel, Zelda Morrison, and Evelyn Claire

Ninja Thyberg’s feature directorial debut adapts her 2013 short film of the same name into a full-length feature about the realities of the modern porn world. It is unrated and I am sure there is nudity, but it looks more like a psychological examination of the cost of the porn business than it does an exploitative cash grab. The trailer reminded me of Zola meets Showgirls.

Montana Story (Theaters)

Writers: Scott McGehee, David Siegel, Mike Spreter

Directors: Scott McGehee and David Siegel

Starring: Haley Lu Richardson, Owen Teague, and Gilbert Owuor

This one wasn’t on my radar at all but I kept seeing it get pushed in some of my movie circles. I really don’t know anything about the filmmakers or the cast, and as I started watching the trailer it wasn’t very compelling either. However, I stuck with it and I am more willing to give it a chance now. The story is about a brother and sister who come home to the family ranch and have to confront one another and their problematic family history in the process. Reviews have been strong and that’s why it’s kept popping up.

Monstrous (Theaters + VOD)

Writer: Carol Chrest | Director: Chris Siverston

Starring: Christina Ricci, Santino Barnard, and Don Durrell

Stylish period horror with Christina Ricci…I’m listening. A woman takes her young son and flees her abusive ex-husband, but their new home has something else in store. She was fantastic on Yellowjackets so I am interested to see how she does in the lead here. The premise got me curious, but the trailer does have some of the hallmarks of the less-than-stellar horror films that understand style but not what makes horror scary. I am willing to bank on Ricci but I won’t overreach.

What Else Is New…

Mau (Theaters + VOD)

Directors: Benjamin and Jono Bergmann

Starring: Paola Antonelli, Bjarke Ingles, Rem Koolhaus

This documentary focuses on the story of designer Bruce Mau. Oddly enough, I just finished watching We Crashed last night and, in watching the trailer for this documentary, I couldn’t help but see some similarities. I would have to watch the doc to get the full picture, but I heard and saw some familiar things. I wouldn’t overreach for this one either, but I know some designers who would probably be very interested in this one.

The Last Victim (Theaters + VOD)

Writers: Ashley James Louis (screenplay), Naveen A. Chathapuram, Doc Justin (story)

Director: Naveen A. Chathapuram

Starring: Ron Perlman, Ali Larter, and Ralph Ineson

I have seen this described as a “neo-western” but in watching the trailer I couldn’t really tell you what it’s about. Ali Larter is being hunted in the woods, but that’s all I got out of it. This is another directorial debut, this time for Naveen A. Chathapuram who also helped write the story. Ashley James Louis gets the lone screenplay credit, but it’s his first produced script as well, so it is tough to tell what to make of this.

Shark Bait (Theaters + VOD)

Writer: Nick Saltrese | Director: James Nunn

Starring: Holly Earl, Jack Trueman, Catherine Hannay

This is a movie that doesn’t bury the lead when it comes to what it’s trying to do. It’s literally in the title. I have more or less had enough of these movies but, if it’s done right, sharks are always scary on the open ocean. I talk about this a lot and tone are important, not just for these kinds of movies. Part of the trailer interested me, right up until the point where these jabronis accidentally-on-purpose crash their jetskis head-on. Like, I get that you need a reason for them to be stranded on the open ocean, but that’s among the dumbest reasons they could choose. If the tone matches that, then this can still be a fun shark-eats-people movie. Notice it’s labeled as a thriller and not a horror movie, so we will see. It’s on VOD if I want it.

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