Thriller/Suspense

[6.5] Robert Forster (Jackie Brown, The Black Hole) stars as a police detective in this better-than-average monster movie about a giant alligator that terrorizes the Chicago suburbs. Screenwriter John Sayles (Passion Fish, Lone Star) probably deserves most of the credit, giving Forster and co-stars just enough character and backstory to elevate them above the two-dimensional pawns you usually find in these flicks. He also makes …

[4.0] Debra Winger plays a federal investigator on the trail of a ‘black widow,’ a woman (Theresa Russell) who marries and murders one rich man after another, collecting inheritances as she goes. It’s great to see Debra Winger in anything, even if she’s under-utilized. Under-utilization is actually a recurring theme in the making of Black Widow. Russell’s mysterious character is also under-written. Supporting players the …

[7.5] After an earthquake devastates their facilities at the bottom of the Mariana Trench, a handful of deep sea drillers decide their only chance of surviving is to walk along the ocean floor to another nearby facility miles away. But the journey becomes even more perilous when they discover mysterious creatures unleashed by their drilling efforts are preying on them. Kristen Stewart (Twilight) heads up …

[7.5] Director Alexandre Aja (High Tension) serves up a father/daughter survival thriller that takes place primarily in a basement full of alligators during a hurricane. Sound preposterous? Well, that’s part of the charm. But Aja and screenwriters Michael and Shawn Rasmussen give the tale enough verisimilitude to suck you in and make you root for these people — and their dog, too. Kaya Scodelario and …

[8.0] Chameleon master craftsman Billy Wilder (Sunset Boulevard, The Lost Weekend) staked a name for himself and elevated low-budget film noir to new levels of respectability with his Hitchcockian suspense yarn Double Indemnity. The film, co-written by Wilder and Raymond Chandler, stars Fred MacMurray as an L.A. insurance salesman who conspires with an unhappy housewife, played by Barbara Stanwyck, to collect a massive insurance payout …

[8.0] A paranormal investigator (Richard Johnson) invites three others to stay with him at a ninety-year-old mansion to determine whether it is haunted. One of his guests is a skeptic (Russ Tamblyn) who will one day inherit the house, while another (Claire Bloom) is a clairvoyant. But it’s the third guest (Julie Harris) who has the strongest and most unsettling connection to the property — …

[7.0] Seemingly unrelated stories and dubious characters end up converging around one man, Arvin Russell (Spider-Man‘s Tom Holland), an orphan struggling to find his moral compass in 1960s rural West Virginia. Arvin is haunted by the memory of his father (It‘s Bill Skarsgård), a man who’d make blood sacrifices at his own makeshift altar in the woods when praying for God’s divine intervention. Other storylines …

[7.5] Writer/director Gareth Edwards (Godzilla, Rogue One) serves up an authentic-feeling monster movie that takes place in the near-future, after NASA accidentally releases an alien life form in the sky over Mexico. The enormous tentacled creatures begin destroying cities and towns, causing mass casualties — but after a few years, the country (and the world) adapt to this new reality. Monster sightings become like tornado …

[7.0] Steven Spielberg passes the directorial reigns of the Jurassic Park franchise to the superbly capable Joe Johnston (The Rocketeer, Captain America: The First Avenger) for this second dino sequel. Sam Neill returns as Dr. Alan Grant, coerced by a wealthy couple (Téa Leoni and William H. Macy) to return to the prehistoric island for a personal guided airplane tour. But the wealthy couple turn …

[4.5] The late Chadwick Boseman stars in this mediocre actioner about a New York City detective trying to stop two cop killers from leaving Manhattan by closing all the island’s bridges and tunnels. But along the way, Boseman’s eyes are opened to a broader conspiracy that could endanger his own life. 21 Bridges benefits from Boseman’s reserved coolness and two great supporting turns from Sienna …

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