2010 Fall Movie Preview: October Brings the Horror and Then Some

Jesse Eisenberg and Justin Timberlake in The Social Network
Photo: Columbia Pictures

Immediately when you think of October movies you think of horror films and thrillers and October 2010 has got its share, but it also has a bit of a unique flavor to it. This year’s batch of fright flicks aren’t solely dominated by blood and gore. Certainly we have a new Saw film, we also have the unnecessary sequel to last year’s breakout supernatural hit Paranormal Activity. Wes Craven is in tow with a new film, a controversial remake is on its way, Clint Eastwood even has a film dealing with the afterlife and depending on how you look at it, Charles Ferguson’s Inside Job documentary may be the scariest, most maddening film of the year.

Yeah, October 2010 appears to have the goods on paper. Let’s take a closer look and see what all it has to offer.

Beginning with the Halloween related films everyone wants this time of year we’ll look at the two sequels vying for box-office supremacy in that category. When they were first announced there was a bit of a scuffle between Paranormal Activity 2 (10/22) and Lionsgate’s Saw 3D (10/29). Initially Paramount set Paranormal Activity 2 up against Saw 3D on October 22 and hired Saw VI helmer Kevin Greutert to direct. In a widely covered fracas, Lionsgate exercised an option forcing Greutert to abandon Paranormal Activity 2 and direct the seventh film in the Saw franchise. Nice right?

It was a bit of dirty pool, and yet Lionsgate was still the first to yell “chicken” and bowed out in the end, electing to move Saw 3D one week later, setting up a fascinating bit of late month box-office competition. I’m sure Lionsgate wants to go out with a bang as this is said to be the final Saw film. So will it ride the 3D express to box-office supremacy, or will Paranormal Activity 2 find lightning in a bottle as did its predecessor or will it simply whither and go away?

Next we have the film fanboys are up in arms about, Matt Reeves’s remake Let Me In (10/1) adapted from John Ajvide Lindqvist’s best-selling Swedish novel, which itself was adapted into a feature film in its native tongue in 2008. Considering the film is about vampires a small handful of genre film lovers overlooked their hatred of subtitles to watch the original and now consider it one of their favorites and are upset anyone would ever consider remaking it. Just imagine if they watched more foreign language films what they would think of so many American remakes.

Well, this story of an alienated 12-year-old boy (Kodi Smit-McPhee) who befriends a mysterious young girl (Moretz) in his small New Mexico town is getting an English language remake whether they like it or not, and I can only assume most of them will be in line opening weekend to see it.

Moving along, Wes Craven is returning to theaters with My Soul to Take (10/8), an I Know What You Did Last Summer-esque story about a supposed reincarnated serial killer.

I Spit On Your Grave (10/8) is coming to theaters in unrated form after surrendering its R-rating to appear more sadistic to audiences. This is a remake of the 1978 film Roger Ebert called “a vile bag of garbage.” He continued on saying, “Attending it was one of the most depressing experiences of, my life… This is a film without a shred of artistic distinction. It lacks even simple craftsmanship.” You interested?

Finally, Paramount is dumping their ages old thriller Case 39 (10/1) starring Renée Zellweger and Bradley Cooper at the beginning of the month. This film was expected to hit theaters two years ago and only now is Par finding time to release it into limited theaters. There must be some kind of tax write-off involved.

The horror ends there, but the genre features continue with Summit’s Red (10/15), Paramount’s potentially hilarious Jackass 3D (10/15) and Gareth Edwards’s much talked about low-budget sci-fi feature Monsters (10/29).

I’ve seen an unfinished cut of Red and it’s rather enjoyable, but I won’t say it’s blowing any doors off. It seems to be trying to mix the camaraderie of Steven Soderbergh’s Ocean’s 11 remake with the haphazard nature of something like this summer’s The A-Team or The Losers.

Despite the fact it’s October and horror films are all the rage this time of year, I suspect David Fincher’s The Social Network (10/1) will be the most anticipated film on most people’s list. I’ll say I wasn’t particularly impressed with the trailer the same way everyone else was. I know the fact Fincher is directing an Aaron Sorkin script is something that’s got most people jazzed, and I personally really want to see The Social Network, but the latest trailer tempered my expectations a bit.

Continuing along the more noteworthy fare for October we come to Disney’s Secretariat (10/8), which has the potential for Blind Side-esque Oscar consideration with the Oscar nominated Diane Lane, though she has additional Best Actress competition in the same month from Hilary Swank and her role in Fox Searchlight’s Conviction (10/15) co-starring with another potential nominee in Sam Rockwell.

A film that didn’t get as much buzz out of Sundance as I expected was John Wells’s corporate downsizing feature The Company Men (10/22), which I get the feeling The Weinstein Co. is dropping off here in September with more Oscar expectations placed on other titles in its possession. No matter, the biggest film having to do with the current state of the economy wouldn’t have been The Company Men anyway, it will be Charles Ferguson’s Inside Job (10/8).

I’ve now seen Inside Job one-and-a-half times after having to bail on it at Cannes due to lack of sleep and finally seeing it to completion here in Seattle only a few days ago in advance of the Toronto Film Festival. Simply put, this is one scary documentary and one that will sit alongside the Weinstein’s The Tillman Story as the two frontrunners for Best Documentary at this year’s Oscars. Inside Job does a great job of explaining a lot of the jargon you may have heard on television and makes Michael Moore’s Capitalism look like it was made with crayon. Of course, over saturation of this kind of material may also be its Oscar downfall, but that doesn’t change the fact it’s a great movie.

Speaking of Oscar and October, here is Clint Eastwood with Hereafter (10/22), a film that will be screening in Toronto in something of a clandestine fashion as it’s currently set for only one, out of the way, press screening and one public screening. It’s been described as a supernatural thriller in the vein of The Sixth Sense written by Peter Morgan (Frost/Nixon), but Warner Bros. has since toned down that language and is referring to it as a drama dealing with the afterlife. We can only speculate as to how good it actually is and I can only hope to see one of those screenings at TIFF.

I’ve already seen Tamara Drewe (10/8) from Stephen Frears at Cannes and as my review said “neither the story nor the characters as written are weighty enough to carry this film for the duration.”

George Hickenlooper’s Casino Jack (10/1) is heading to TIFF as well where I hope to catch a screening and the same goes for It’s Kind of a Funny Story (10/8) from Focus starring Keir Gilchrist, Zach Galifianakis and Emma Roberts.

The Weinstein Co. seems to be just dumping off Nowhere Boy (10/8) the same as The Company Men, which doesn’t surprise me after seeing the trailer for this film about John Lennon’s childhood with Kick-Ass lead, Aaron Johnson, playing Lennon. Warner’s Life as We Know It (10/8) starring Katherine Heigl and Josh Duhammel looks like a poop joke spread out over 105 minutes and there is some good buzz going for Stone (10/8) starring Ed Norton and Robert De Niro, but I just can’t get over how generic the film looks.

Finally, the third film in the Millennium trilogy arrives in The Girl Who Kicked The Hornets’ Nest (10/27), a Swedish film that is also getting an American adaptation with David Fincher directing the first in the series, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. It’s a bit surprising the online fanboys aren’t in a huff over that one. Then again, there aren’t any vampires so they probably haven’t seen the original.

Just like September’s list, I have seen a few of these so instead of doing a ranked list of my most anticipated films I have done a list ordered by release date of those I liked already and those I am still anticipating. I’ve marked the films I’ve seen with an *.

Browse the Rest of My 2010 Fall Movie Preview: