There’s something about this time of year. The heat, the sun, the feeling that it’s all coming to a close…it makes us crave high-octane entertainment to combat heat exhaustion, ennui, and back-to-school angst! Luckily, this week’s newest releases have got you covered and then some: Whether you want something that will scare you silly, overwhelm your senses, hijack your emotions, or really make you think, there’s a little something for everyone to help mitigate those end-of-summer blues over the impending weekend.
In a world that is post-post-everything, The Meg is basically a Jaws meme, and that’s not a critique. It has the potential to do for the “sublime monster” genre what Scream did for horror, and Snakes on a Plane did for…transportation-based action thrillers. On that note, in case you missed it, the trailer for The Last Sharknado was released this week. The Last Sharknado does for the sublime monster genre what Scary Movie did to Scream. Are you still with us? Is there anything better than a peak summer CGI smash? They are the cinematic equivalent of Sour Patch Kids (think Anaconda, Deep Blue Sea, and so on) and we think The Meg might leave us licking the bag for every last grain of deliciousness.
Some monsters are found in the dark, mysterious depths, and some show up a lot closer to home. If you’re chasing a different kind of movie-going experience, don’t miss Good Manners, a lycanthropic slice of dreamy-yet-sharp Brazilian horror that’s getting great reviews for its fresh take on full moons, silver bullets, and supernatural hunger. It’s also — lest we say too much and ruin the full experience — a musical. If you’re idea of a good time at the movies this summer is more Hereditary and less Piranha 3D, then do yourself a favor and find this at your nearest indie screen. If you eat meat, treat yourself to a burger or, better yet, a steak, beforehand! Make sure it’s cooked rare.
Not all heroes wear capes, and not all villains wear hoods — but these bad guys definitely do. Like something ripped out of a Dave Chappelle comedy special, except true, BlacKkKlansman marks the triumphant big screen return of “provoc-auteur” Spike Lee. It also serves as the coming-out party for John David Washington (son of Denzel Washington) as Colorado Springs’ first black police officer, Ron Stallworth. Stallworth infamously infiltrated the local KKK chapter and made contact with still-living white supremacist leader David Duke (played by Topher Grace, who may as well have told Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri’s Sam Rockwell to hold his beer) as part of an undercover investigation with the help of his white “beard” (or cover), Flip Zimmerman (Adam Driver). Between this and Sorry to Bother You, “whiteface” is truly having a bit of a moment, no? See this with anyone who waxes nostalgic for the “good old days.”
A Prayer Before Dawn
Don’t do drugs in Thailand. Just say no! Based on the harrowing true story of Liverpool man Billy Moore’s time in the notorious “Bangkok Hilton” prison, locked away after spiraling down to rock bottom while on an extended vacation, A Prayer Before Dawn frames brutal Muay Thai tournaments as a path to redemption — so you can imagine how dark and violent it’s going to get. This ain’t no Brokedown Palace. Moore is played by Joe Cole (who you may have seen on Peaky Blinders or in the utterly terrifying Green Room) in a performance already garnering major acclaim. Part filmed-on-location prison drama, part spiritually optimistic sports movie, and part adapted memoir, this newest offering from juggernaut A24 promises to leave audiences feeling like they’ve gone five rounds with their feelings.
Have you talked to your tweens about Slender Man? In the age of pizzagate, QAnon, and other conspiracy theories that jump out of the Internet and into real, violent confrontation, the Slender Man phenomenon feels like a symptom of a much larger sickness, which is perhaps the point of this (some might say) unfortunately-timed movie. It was only in 2014, after all, that two twelve-year-old Wisconsin girls stabbed their friend nineteen times and left her for dead, afraid the Slender Man would “get” them if they failed to make this offering. The movie version of events diverges from the headlines in almost all ways and is set in Massachusetts, not Wisconsin, but it won’t be coming to theatres in the Milwaukee area: It’s still too fresh of a tragedy, given that the girls’ convictions were handed down just at the beginning of this past year. Slender Man’s overall aesthetic and mood feels very “1990s Nine Inch Nails” (with an emphasis on pre-teen angst and pea soup lighting), which is an odd choice for a story literally ripped from today’s headlines…then again, maybe it will prove to be the perfect techno-phobic follow-up to Unfriended: Dark Web. Only one way to find out!