October Film Preview: Thrillers Abound

October usually means that awards season is revving up, so we usually get some awesome low-key Hollywood flicks, microbudget horror flicks (to take advantage of Halloween), and maybe even a couple of powerful indies that compete with the big boys for statues. This October doesn’t look much different, but there is a distinct flavor to the bigger films being released this year. In addition to the standard fare, for some reason the larger movies this October can be categorized as mysteries or thrillers. So, in this piece I’ll detail the October films to put on your watch list, ranging from these Hollywood thrillers all the way down to the smallest indie darlings.

The first weekend of October features a pair of intriguing films: The Girl on the Train and The Birth of a Nation. The first is a hardcore mystery thriller that should compare favorably to Gone Girl, whereas the latter is the breakout indie about Nat Turner’s slave revolt that was bought for a record amount of money at the Sundance Film Festival. I would be surprised if more people went to see The Birth of a Nation, simply because the subject matter is so challenging that I think most people would prefer to stay away. I will definitely be seeing both of these films, and I think that each will be powerful in its own right.

I’d also like to point out what is perhaps the most peculiar film from the whole month: The Greasy Strangler. This is a dingy little indie slasher film that seeks to be as off-the-wall crazy and offensive as possible, including plenty of bizarre grossout humor and sexual grotesqueness. This promises to be a real “love it or hate it” kind of flick, but I have to admit I am incredibly intrigued by it. It is just really cool to see something weird and new out there, and I will do my best to seek out this one. If you’re into weird horror flicks, I suggest you do the same.

The next week (October 14th), there are four wide releases: Max Steel, The Accountant, Desierto, and Kevin Hart: What Now?. Max Steel is not for me – it is a alien robot kind of movie based on a toy franchise. Ditto for the Kevin Hart concert film, which really just looks like a standup special with some A-listers providing bumper material. I’m not a gigantic fan of Kevin Hart’s standup in general, so this one just doesn’t resonate with me. This week is all about The Accountant, starring Matt Damon and Anna Kendrick, and Desierto, a thriller focused around a man who hunts illegal Mexican immigrants through the desert.

October 21st is also fairly populated with wide releases. There’s a new Rob Zombie horror film called 31, sequels for both Jack Reacher and Ouija, and a pair of lamentable comedies: Keeping Up with the Joneses and Tyler Perry’s Boo! A Madea Halloween. Of these, only the Jack Reacher sequel interests me, though Rob Zombie’s film could be an interesting watch if you want something to go seen on or around Halloween. Really, though, this weekend is about limited release: Moonlight. This little indie wowed the pants of off critics on the festival circuit, and some have gone so far as to say that Moonlight is so good that it reminds us of why we watch movies in the first place. If you gave me a Sophie’s Choice between Moonlight and Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, I’m choosing Moonlight.

The final weekend of October looks pretty bland in comparison to these other weeks. We get two wide releases: the third Dan Brown adaptation Inferno, and Ewan MacGregor’s directorial debut American Pastoral. Inferno has Tom Hanks hamming it up, so it could be fun in that mindless, yolky National Treasure kind-of-way, but I just can’t get excited for that kind of film, especially with how strong the rest of the month is (not to mention how amazing November is going to be!). American Pastoral looks like more of a serious film, and it certainly could surprise some people by offering some nice performances or showcase McGregor’s direction. All-told, I think this is a weekend to skip the new releases and see something else.

So that’s it – the most intriguing new releases for October. I am most excited to see Moonlight, but that could be a long time coming given the limited release. Tied for second would be The Girl on the Train and The Accountant, though I would not be surprised if one or both of these flicks falls flat. All-told, October looks to be a fine month for film, and will certainly whet our appetites for the grandeur of November.

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Derek Jacobs

Derek is a molecular biologist born in Colorado and currently living in Madison, Wisconsin. He is most comfortable writing in the first person, so I will switch. In the free time that I have between planning and performing experiments, I devour all manner of films, keep up with movie news, and blog about my opinion on cinema. When not contributing pieces to Monologue Blogger, you can find me posting at my own personal film blog www.plotandtheme.com and contributing to www.cinemaaxis.com. More than anything, I am interested in the techniques used to effectively tell a story in the visual medium of film, and it is my intention to critique movies in that context. Twitter: @PlotandTheme Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/plotandtheme/