Summer is the new autumn!
That’s certainly what the weather seems to have decided, and cinemas are following suit, with the release of a slew of spooky movies you’d more usually expect to hit the big screen in October.
Following on from Aussie chiller Talk to Me, we’ve got cabin-in-the-woods tale The Blackening due in a couple of weeks – and this week Disney are getting in on the act with Haunted Mansion, based on the popular theme park ride (a phrase sure to send shivers down the spine of many a cinemagoer in and of itself).
Plus, a gamer gets behind the wheel for real in Gran Turismo – a video game tie-in based, surprisingly enough, on a true story.
On which note, I’m off to apply for NASA’s defence department on the basis of my ten-year-old self’s proven track record of absolutely obliterating the alien attack force in Space Invaders.
And if they’re not interested in that – are there any jobs going where you have to collect rings really quickly while dressed as a giant hedgehog?
A single mother and her young son move into a creepy old Louisiana mansion, only to find they are not the only occupants, in this supernatural comedy horror.
Who ya gonna call? Ghostbusters! But not those ones, obviously (though screenwriter Katie Dippold has form in this area, having co-written that franchise’s 2016 reboot) – instead, frightened mum Gabbie (Rosario Dawson) seeks the help of a depressed paranormal tour guide (LaKeith Stanfield), a psychic (Tiffany Haddish), a priest (Owen Wilson) and a professor (Danny DeVito).
Based on the popular Disney theme park ride, this comic chiller promises plenty of ectoplasmic Easter eggs for fans – including Jared Leto as the Hatbox Ghost – though parents be warned: the blurb suggests that it might be a mite too spooky for younger kids.
It’s not often that a video game adaptation can also be billed as a true-life drama, but that’s the case with this big screen spin-off from the popular Playstation series, which is based on the story of a young British gamer whose prowess on the console paved the way to IRL racing glory.
Archie Madekwe (one of Midsommar’s ill-fated holidaymakers) stars as Jann Mardenborough, a virtuoso on the iconic racing simulator whose dream comes true when he’s selected for a place in the Nissan-sponsored GT Academy, which trains up gamers to be professional racecar drivers.
It’s a familiar sporting underdog chassis onto which director Neill Blomkamp (District 9) bolts all the standard-issue parts you’d expect, from fist-pumping training montages through high octane races to a smirking rival and a grizzled trainer with a heart and a backstory (Stranger Things’ David Harbour does the honours); though the casting of Geri Halliwell Horner as Mardenborough’s mum may strike some as a customisation too far.
A woman fights to rebuild her life in the aftermath of a terrorist attack in this acclaimed French drama from director Alice Winocour (who previously helmed the Eva Green astronaut drama Proxima).
The story follows journalist Mia (Virginie Efira, Benedetta), the survivor of a terror attack in a Parisian restaurant (loosely based on the 2015 Bataclan massacre) who struggles to process her pain whilst dealing with the fact that her life and her personality have irrevocably changed.
While searching for a young Senegalese chef with whom she hid from the killers, she finds herself drawing closer to fellow survivor Thomas (Benoît Magimel) in what the Guardian calls ‘an empathic, unexpectedly hopeful take on trauma’.
Summer holiday round-up
As summer progresses, parents of younger kids can find their cinema trips running the gamut of obscure CGI imports ranging from the head-scratching to the soul-destroying – so this week’s new release Puffin Rock and the New Friends will doubtless be welcomed with open arms.
Showing daily at Cineworld and Vue, the big screen spin-off from the popular Chris O’Dowd-narrated show – that rarest of beasts, a cartoon beloved by kids and parents alike – sees young puffin Oona and friends in a race against time as a big storm threatens their island home.
As ever, there are plenty of budget viewing options to choose from too, with City Screen’s Kids’ Club offering Matilda the Musical (daily, £3.30), while The Super Mario Bros. Movie continues at Cineworld (daily, £2.50) – it’s also showing in Everyman’s Toddlers’ Club on Fri 11th and Sat 12th (tickets £6.10 child, £8.60 adult).
Cineworld’s other budget offering is live-action Australian fantasy quest The Secret Kingdom (daily, £2.50), while Vue have environmentally-themed Canadian fable Katak: The Brave Beluga (daily, £2.49), which follows a late-developing beluga whale who spies his chance to make a splash.
Of the more recent family-friendly releases (screening at the standard price), it’s something of a surprise to report that Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem (daily at Cineworld, Everyman and Vue) sounds like it might be the pick of the crop, with critics united in delighted disbelief that after 33 years, they’ve finally made a good Turtles film.
It’s clearly learned a trick or two from Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, which you can catch daily at Vue except on Sun 13th and Mon 14th; Norwegian caper Just Super also continues at Vue this week (daily), as do Ruby Gillman, Teenage Kraken (daily except Sat 12th and Mon 14th) and the live-action The Little Mermaid (Sat 12th, Mon 14th, Tues 15th), while Pixar’s latest Elemental continues at Cineworld (daily), Vue (daily) and Everyman (Sat 12th, Tues 15th, Weds 16th).
Bruce is back and the Fellowship rides again: other new releases and old favourites
If you’ve yet to see buzzy new possession horror Talk to Me and you don’t fancy trekking out of town, you’re in luck – City Screen are showing it daily this week (you can also still catch it at Vue).
City Screen’s Debutantes season – celebrating recent dazzling debuts from British female directors – continues apace with screenings of last year’s wonderful father-daughter drama Aftersun on Sun 13th, and highly acclaimed South London relationship tale Pretty Red Dress on Tues 15th – the latter starring X-Factor winner Alexandra Burke in her first big screen role.
On Thurs 16th, theatre buffs can take their seats at City Screen for a Screen Arts presentation of The Hiding Place, a specially-filmed production of the play about a family who hid Jewish refugees in the Netherlands during World War II.
As India celebrates its Independence Day on 15th August, several Bollywood blockbusters go head to head in cinemas this week: Cineworld are screening Telugu revenge thriller Bholaa Shankar (daily) and Tamil action comedy Jailer (Sat 12th to Weds 16th), while Vue have daily screenings of 70s-set Hindi action sequel Gadar 2.
MAMAMOO, here we go again – the K-pop stars get the concert doc treatment in MAMAMOO: My Con the Movie at Vue on Sat 12th, promising on-stage highlights and behind-the-scenes secrets from their recent world tour.
Meanwhile, more adventurous film fans can take a chance, take-a, take-a chance chance at Cineworld on Mon 14th as they host their latest Secret Screening, where you won’t know what you’re seeing until the lights go down.
Celebrating its 40th anniversary at City Screen on Mon 14th is cult 1983 feminist noir tale Variety, which sees a ticket seller at a New York porno theatre become obsessed with a wealthy patron – look out for photographer Nan Goldin, subject of this year’s excellent doc All the Beauty and the Bloodshed, in a supporting role.
When it comes to re-releases, though, there’s one name that’s kicking and punching his way to the fore this week, as Bruce Lee classic Enter the Dragon returns to the big screen for its 50th anniversary.
The last film the iconic action hero completed before his death in 1973, and considered one of the all-time great martial arts movies, it sees Lee playing a Shaolin monk who goes undercover to infiltrate an illegal drugs ring – you can catch this new 4K reissue at Cineworld on Sun 13th and Vue on Sat 12th and Tues 15th, while on Mon 14th you can catch one of Lee’s earlier hits at City Screen in the form of Fist of Fury.
And finally, from Fist of Fury to feet of furry: Frodo and pals are heading back out on their travels at Everyman this week, as their Throwback strand takes us back to the start with The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, screening on Sun 13th and Tues 15th.