Movie DopeMovies

Movie Dope

ACT OF VALOR (R) I am intrigued by the concept—active duty Navy SEALs recreating real events—more than the actual story: kidnapped CIA agent, deadly new terrorist threat, yada yada yada, worldwide manhunt. The directing duo of Mike McCoy (“Hot Wheels: Madness at the 500â€) and Scott Waugh, a stunt specialist who worked on Showtime’s terrorist series “Sleeper Cell,†don’t provide a lot to go on, but writer Kurt Johnstad helped Zack Snyder with 300. The non-professional stars can definitely handle the action, but can they survive the drama?

A DANGEROUS METHOD (R) Young psychiatrists Carl Jung and Sigmund Freud (Michael Fassbender and Viggo Mortensen, respectively) are working together to create a theory for what will become modern psychoanalysis. A young patient (Keira Knightly) with a crippling mental disorder pulls Jung further from the influence of his mentor in this true, romantic thriller.

THE ADVENTURES OF TINTIN (PG) Herge’s Belgian globetrotter, Tintin, and Captain Haddock are in search of sunken ship in this MoCap’d CGI adventure. The directing of Steven Spielberg and producing of Peter Jackson (who has signed on to direct a sequel) is nearly as exciting as a script by Stephen Moffat (“Doctor Whoâ€), Edgar Wright and hot newcomer Joe Cornish, whose Attack the Block was one of my favorite surprises of 2011.

ALBERT NOBBS (R) 2011. Glenn Close stars as a woman in late 19th century Ireland posing as a man so that she can work in an upscale hotel in Dublin and live an independent life, despite her gender’s expectation to do otherwise.

ALVIN AND THE CHIPMUNKS: CHIPWRECKED (G) Come on, Fox! If you’re going to keep releasing new Chipmunks entries each holiday season, the least you can do is make a Christmas-themed movie featuring the furry trio’s classic holiday tunes. Instead, Alvin, Simon, Theodore, the Chipettes and Dave (poor, paycheck-cashing Jason Lee) start out on a cruise ship and wind up on a deserted island. Judging by the boffo box office of the previous two features plus the young audience’s reaction to the new pic’s trailer, Chipwrecked should provide its studio with some holiday cheer.

ANNIE HALL (PG) 1977. Tate is celebrating the Academy Awards with an Oscar Weekend celebration that includes Woody Allen’s charmer. The Wood-man stars as Alvy Singer, who recounts his woeful search for love in New York City. Alvy thinks the free-spirited Annie Hall (Oscar winner Diane Keaton) is the one, but love doesn’t always go as planned. I used to pettily begrudge Annie Hall for nabbing Star Wars’ Best Picture trophy: now I simply appreciate Allen’s most accessible film, a well-read romantic comedy melding humor, heart and a large dose of neuroses.

THE ARTIST (PG-13) Films today do not come as precious or charming as Michel Hazanavicius’ silent, Golden Globe winning Oscar frontrunner. A silent film that is all about talking, The Artist of title refers to matinee idol George Valentin (Academy Award nominee Jean Dujardin, who absolutely must be a silent film star Hazanivicius recently thawed from ice), who finds it difficult to transition from silent films to talkies, unlike rising star Peppy Miller (Academy Award nominee Bérénice Bejo). But Miller has a crush on Valentin that predates her stardom and will do everything she can to help the despondent, one-time star. Like an unearthed gem, a long-lost silent relic, The Artist is at once wholly familiar yet completely foreign. Who knew a trifling eccentricity would wind up 2011’s most daring film?

BIG MIRACLE (PG-13) Do you like whales? What about Drew Barrymore? Are sitcoms right up your alley? If you answered yes to any one of these queries, Big Miracle is for you! Based on a true story, this lighthearted family film recounts the time humanity combined to free a family of three gray whales from their Arctic ice prison. Cute actors like Barrymore, “The Officeâ€â€™s John Krasinski and Kristen Bell keep Big Miracle appealing as it goes through the inspirational paint-by-numbers plot. Successful TV director Ken Kwapis feels right at home, needlessly staging small screen theatrics on a big screen palette. Only one scene—the stunning shot of Drew Barrymore’s Greenpeace volunteer swimming with the whales—deserves a screen larger than a 40-inch flatscreen. I don’t mean this as an insult, but why isn’t Big Miracle a Hallmark production? No reason exists for this minor charmer to be a theatrical release.

CHRONICLE (PG-13) An out of nowhere genre success, Chronicle should find easy entry into the cult classic pantheon. Three high schoolers (Dane DeHaan, Alex Russell and “Friday Night Lightsâ€â€™ Michael B. Jordan) stumble upon a mysterious cave and wind up with telekinetic powers. But, as Spider-Man teaches, “with great power comes great responsibility,†and not everyone can handle it. As the teenagers’ powers grow, one becomes increasingly dangerous. What seems to be heading toward Carrie horror territory winds up being more of a supervillain origin story, and it’s brilliant. Chronicle watches like a fantastic comic book miniseries (think something from the Millarverse), telling a fresh origin story via intelligent filmmaking tricks. First time feature director Josh Trank does some fun cinematic tricks with the overdone found footage gambit, and Max “Son of John†Landis provides a crackerjack script that never gets too clever with its high concept. Genre surprises, especially ones released in the dead of winter, are getting rarer. I can’t wait to see what Trank and Landis do for a follow-up.

CONTRABAND (R) How much cooler would this flick have been had it recounted the tale of Bill and Lance, two lonely, shirtless soldiers blasting their way to the Alien’s lair to the sounds of Cinemechanica? Much, much cooler. Alas, Contraband is merely a standard, occasionally thrilling heist flick starring the “always reliable for this sort of action” Mark Wahlberg. As Chris Farraday, a former master smuggler gone legit, Wahlberg calmly muscles his way from New Orleans to Panama in order to get his brother-in-law (X-Men: First Class’s Caleb Landry Jones) out of trouble with a small time crook (Giovanni Ribisi). If Chris fails, his pretty wife (Kate Beckinsale) and two little boys may pay the price. Director Baltasar Kormakur knows the territory; he should, seeing as he starred in the Icelandic original, Reykjavik-Rotterdam. The pace of this smuggling master class rarely flags, but the plot’s machinations are fueled by too much stupidity for good escapist fun. Frankly, these people are too depressing to be much fun. I still like Ben Foster, who excels as Chris’ best bud; here’s hoping he doesn’t get stuck as Jason Statham or Marky Mark’s action sidekick.

THE DESCENDANTS (R) Is The Descendants the best film of last year? If not, the bittersweet dramedy starring Academy Award nominee George Clooney is among the top two or three. Filmmaker Alexander Payne sure took his time following up his 2004 Oscar winning smash, but the delay was worth it. After a tragic accident leaves his wife in a coma, lawyer and owner of the last parcel of virgin land in Hawaii, Matt King (Clooney), struggles to raise his two daughters, come to peace with revelations about his dying wife and decide what to do with his important land. Clooney is this generation’s Paul Newman, a cool cat who can pull off anything he’s asked to do on screen. Here, in his tucked-in Hawaiian shirts, he epitomizes the suburban dad. Still, he drops comic gems and dramatic bombs with ease, often punctuated by his terrific reaction shots, Payne again proves himself a master of tone, perfectly balancing the humor of an incredibly bleak, emotionally complex situation.

DOUBLE VICTORY: THE STORY OF THE TUSKEGEE AIRMEN (NR) Produced by George Lucas as a companion piece to his recently released, Red Tails, Double Victory: The Story of the Tuskegee Airmen previously aired on The History Channel. Narrated by Red Tails star Cuba Gooding, Jr., Double Victory refers to the Airmen’s conquering Jim Crow and the segregation of the military. The documentary will be introduced by John Morrow, who appeared in the film and will lead the post-film discussion. The screening is sponsored by the Institute of African American Studies and the Department of History.

• GHOST RIDER: SPIRIT OF VENGEANCE (PG-13) Marvel’s Neveldine/Taylor experiment might have gone better had the company had the guts to release another R-rated flick a la their two Punisher flops. The Crank duo brings their frenetic, non-stop visual style, but those wicked paeans to hedonism had a narrative need to never slow down (its lead character would die). Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance must pump the brakes occasionally to let the “story†catch up, and Neveldine/Taylor never seem as comfortable when the movie’s not rocketing along at 100 miles an hour. They also don’t keep a tight enough rein on their star; Nic Cage is allowed to unleash every one of his worst acting instincts as Johnny Blaze/Ghost Rider, tasked with saving a young boy from the Devil (Ciaran Hinds). A handful of my favorite actors (Hinds, Idris Elba, Anthony Head) cannot save this merrily daft movie. Not even the Highlander himself, Christopher Lambert, who makes the most of his pitifully small screen time, is a match for the movie’s voracious, unhinged lead. Nonetheless, Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance is a step up from its tremendously awful predecessor (Neveldine/Taylor > Mark Steven Johnson).

THE GODFATHER (R) 1972. Tate is celebrating the Academy Awards with an Oscar Weekend celebration that includes Francis Ford Coppola’s gangland epic that is arguably acclaimed as the greatest American film of all time. Whether or not it’s the greatest, second greatest or lower, the quality of Francis Ford Coppola’s adaptation of Mario Puzo’s purely pulpy novel is not up for debate. Brando was good, but Al Pacino got robbed of an Academy Award.

GOOD DEEDS (PG-13) Tyler Perry returns without Madea for another faithful, romantic dramedy. Perry writes, directs and stars in the story of high-powered executive Wesley Deeds, who, on the eve of his wedding, begins to support a lovely single mother (Thandie Newton) that works in his office. You can imagine this complicated new relationship does not please his fiancée (Gabrielle Union) or controlling mother (Phylicia Rashad, the inimitable Clair Huxtable). With Rebecca Romijn, Eddie Cibrain, Jamie Kennedy and Ne-Yo.

GONE (PG-13) Where’s Liam Neeson when you need him? Amanda Seyfried’s Jill could totally use his Taken skills when her sister disappears. Jill suspects the serial killer who kidnapped her a couple of years earlier has returned, and she vows to hunt him down. I don’t know much about director Heitor Dhalia, for whom Gone is his fourth movie, but writer Allison Burnett has a weak track record (Autumn in New York, Untraceable, Fame, Bloodfist III: Forced to Fight). With Jennifer Carpenter (“Dexterâ€).

THE GREY (R) February is ending; it must be time for another Liam Neeson actioner. The formerly acclaimed actor has almost completed his transformation into an English Denzel Washington, whose filmography is filling up with inconsequential paychecks jobs. At least Joe Carnahan (Narc, The A-Team) is writing and directing this tale of an Alaskan drilling team struggling to defeat a pack of wolves hunting them after their plane crashes in the wilderness. With Dermot Mulroney and James Badge Dale (“The Pacificâ€).

HUGO (PG) Oh, to be an orphan living in an early-20th-century clock! Despite its near perfection, this 3D family film—Martin Scorsese’s first—may be the loveliest wide release to struggle to find its audience this year. Yet it’s no wonder Scorsese, himself a film historian as well as a film lover, decided to adapt Brian Selznick’s The Invention of Hugo Cabret, whose central mystery revolves around an early cinematic master. Parisian orphan Hugo (Asa Butterfield), who lives inside the clocktower of the train station, seeks the answer to a mysterious automaton, left unsolved by his late father and clockmaker (Jude Law), with the help of a toymaker named Georges (Ben Kingsley) and his charge, Isabelle (Chloe Grace Moretz). Knowledgeable cinephiles will be enthralled by Selznick’s story, wonderfully adapted by Oscar-nominated scribe John Logan, which I refuse to spoil, and enchanted by the legendary filmmaker’s gorgeous imagery, which conjures memories of Amelie. Sadly, the family audiences that ensured the existence of a third Alvin and the Chipmunks will not be flocking to this thoughtful, literary two-plus-hour masterpiece, easily one of this cinema great’s best pictures.

THE IRON LADY (PG-13) As a fan of all things British, The Iron Lady should have been more appealing to me, but the clumsy construction by director Phyllida Lloyd (Mamma Mia!) and writer Abi Morgan sink it. Meryl Streep may not be a revelation (she cannot be; the highest level of acting is expected of her), but her Golden Globe-winning and Oscar-nominated portrayal of Margaret Thatcher goes beyond mere impression. Too bad the film wastes far too much of its sub-two-hour running time on the later years framework. Any time Streep’s ancient Maggie (the makeup is good) appeared to harangue a hallucination of her late husband, Denis (Jim Broadbent, classy as ever), was a time to check out. And these flash-forwards happen a lot, sometimes for mere seconds, ripping us from the more interesting tale of Thatcher becoming the first female Prime Minister in the history of the United Kingdom. The Iron Lady’s BAFTA nomination for Best Original Screenplay is utterly baffling. As a BBC television production, The Iron Lady might satisfy, but as big screen, awards bait biopic, it falls woefully short. Maggie would certainly not have approved.

JOURNEY 2: THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND (PG) Journey 2: The Mysterious Island’s biggest problem might be time. Many of the young people who enjoyed its 2008 forebear, Journey to the Center of the Earth, might have outgrown the Brendan Fraser/Dwayne “The Rock†Johnson brand of family adventure movie. Sean (Josh Hutcherson, soon to be Peeta in The Hunger Games) and his future stepdad, Hank (the always appealing Johnson), travel to the mysterious island to find Sean’s granddad (Michael Caine). Along for the ride are a goofy helicopter pilot (Luis Guzman, being as Guzman-y as ever) and his gorgeous daughter (Vanessa Hudgens). The island’s giant, 3D-tastic flora and fauna make for a movie that’s fun to look at for an hour and a half, especially on the big screen, but does not create the sort of lasting impression needed to survive in today’s oversaturated entertainment market.

MADONNA OF THE MILLS (NR) Part of the seventh annual Animal Voices Festival sponsored by Speak Out for Species, Madonna of the Mills refers to Laura, who saves 2,000 dogs from puppy mills located in Amish Country, and four of the rescued pups. Christy Champagne, Supervisor of Athens-Clarke County Animal Control, and Michelle Rabold, Outreach Coordinator for Athens Canine Rescue, will lead the discussion. This film is screening as part of World Spay Day, an annual Humane Society campaign that shines a spotlight on Bob Barker’s pet project, spaying and neutering your animals.

OSCAR-NOMINATED SHORT FILMS (NR) All 15 of the short films nominated for 2012 Oscars can be seen in one sitting, featuring selections of animated, live action and documentary films.

RED TAILS (PG-13) Red Tails, created by George Lucas, succeeds everywhere it should and fails nowhere that should surprise anyone. The valor of the Tuskegee Airmen is every bit as worthy of patriotic, big screen fanfare as the flyers of Pearl Harbor and the WWI-era Lafayette Escadrille in Flyboys, and their movie is every bit the equal of dramatic lightweight and action heavyweight. These three aviation-centered war movies are near interchangeable, besides their single major hooks (Pearl Harbor, World War I and African-American pilots). A crew of attractive young black men (including Nate Parker, David Oleyowo, Tristan Wilds and Ne-Yo) are led into combat by stalwart veterans Cuba Gooding Jr. and Terrence Howard and must battle racism on the ground and in the air. (The Luftwaffe knew they were dogfighting with black men.) The dialogue is tin-eared as previous Lucas films (the prequels come to mind) and does not benefit the actors at all. Still, exciting, jingoistic fervor can sometimes wear down any foe, even an enemy script. By Red Tails’ end, it’s near impossible to root against these great American underdogs.

SAFE HOUSE (R) For Safe House’s target fans of Denzel Washington, whizzing bullets and car chases, the action flick is critically bulletproof; for me, it was competently boring. Former CIA operative turned rogue asset, Tobin Frost (Washington), goes on the run with green agent Matt Weston (Ryan Reynolds, in the thankless role anyone could have filled) hot on his heels. Washington remains the laziest talent in Hollywood. What draws him to waste his chops on these action-filled scripts with such obvious plot trajectories? You can tell which CIA bigwig (the suspects being Sam Shepard, Vera Farmiga and Brendan Gleeson) Weston shouldn’t trust from the trailers, and try as they might to imply otherwise, one can easily presume Washington’s Frost hasn’t gone rogue for sheer psychopathic thrills or mere greed. The predictable action is delivered with the workmanlike craftsmanship (quick edits, handheld camerawork, etc.) one expects from a production that is clearly influenced by Washington’s work with Tony Scott, but lacks his more artful eye. Safe House should make enough money to keep Washington’s rep as a box office draw undiminished, but won’t make much of an impression in his increasingly inconsequential filmography.

• THE SECRET WORLD OF ARRIETTY (G) In an era when most animated features are brash, loud commercials for action figures with fast food tie-ins, Studio Ghibli releases a quiet, thoughtful, humorous cartoon adaptation of Mary Norton’s The Borrowers. A young boy, Shawn (v. David Henrie), is sent to recuperate in the solitude of his aunt’s home. There he meets a tiny family of “Borrowersâ€â€”father Pod (v. Will Arnett, who does surprisingly well in a non-comedic role), mother Homily (v. Amy Poehler) and Arrietty (v. Bridgit Mendler)—and protects them from the nosy housekeeper, Hara (v. Carol Burnett). How refreshing it was to hear the few children in the theater laugh at an animated film that did not feature jokes about bodily functions, silly voices (I’m looking at you, Mater) or cute, talking animals! The Secret World of Arrietty may not have been directed by Hayao Miyazaki (he is credited as writer and executive producer), yet it retains the creative and artistic hallmarks of his greatest works. The attention to detail paid to Arrietty’s miniature world simply stuns. The ill-chosen musical interludes are the film’s single misstep.

SHERLOCK HOLMES: A GAME OF SHADOWS (PG-13) Much like its 2009 predecessor, Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows is a perfectly forgettable crowdpleaser. Robert Downey, Jr. revisits his hyper-bordering-on-manic, streetfighting master sleuth, this time tasked with defeating his literary arch-nemesis, Professor James Moriarty (the appropriate Jared Harris of AMC’s “Mad Menâ€). Assisted as always by Dr. John Watson (Jude Law, again a game companion to Downey), Holmes is also joined by his brother, Mycroft (Stephen Fry), Watson’s new wife (Kelly Reilly) and a gypsy fortune teller (Noomi Rapace, best known as the original Lisbeth Salander). Director Guy Ritchie coats everything in his usual super-stylish action sheen, lending the movie a surfeit of style, minus that pesky substance that might give the flick the little literary weight that could make this a classic reimagining of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s most famous creation. No ticket buyers should leave disappointed, unless they expect an entertainment satiation more enduring than the original.

STAR WARS: EPISODE I—THE PHANTOM MENACE 3D (PG) At nearly 13 years old, George Lucas’ return to that galaxy far, far away has not gotten better with age. Adding more dimensions has not helped either. The bad far outweighs the good as the prequels begin amid a trade dispute between the greedy Trade Federation and the tiny planet of Naboo. I dozed off just typing that synopsis. Enter Jedi Knight Qui-Gon Jinn (Liam Neeson) and his padawan, Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor). The film starts slowly, introducing new characters like the hated Jar Jar Binks and the misguided Padme (Natalie Portman). The only new creation to spark any interest, the horned, red-faced Darth Maul, is wasted. The sharp instincts that helped Lucas create this fantastical universe have grown fat and lazy from hero worship and disuse (Episode I is his first feature directing credit since the 1977 original). The 3D post-conversion is barely noticeable. Skip Episodes I and II, and wait two to three years for the good films in the series to be released. It’s time fanboys stopped playing apologists. Outside of visual effects (which already look dated) and sound (at which the Star Wars films always excel), The Phantom Menace is just not a very good movie.

• THIS MEANS WAR (PG-13) They might as well have ponied up for the “Spy vs. Spy†license and made a truly misguided adaptation of the old “Mad†comic strip. Two of the CIA’s top agents/besties, FDR (Chris Pine) and Tuck (Tom Hardy), wind up dating the same girl, Lauren Scott (Reese Witherspoon). You know the drill. FDR and Tuck’s friendship is tested, as both fall for Lauren, but it’s more important that the player of the duo falls in love than the already sensitive one with a kid. Poorly edited early on—not much makes sense in what should be a pretty straightforward first act—This Means War never really finds a groove. This action romcom hybrid has a few fleeting moments, thanks to the bromantic chemistry between beefcake stars Pine and Hardy. Unfortunately, neither man shares that same spark with third lead, Witherspoon. Director McG, whose career hasn’t really gone anywhere since the first Charlie’s Angels (his entry in the Terminator franchise has blissfully been forgotten), gets the unnecessary action right; the required rom and com could use some work. This Means War would be an early pick for worst of 2012, but no one will remember it come year’s end.

UNDERWORLD: AWAKENING (R) I’ve never understood why the Underworld movies are so underwhelming. Vampires versus werewolves, Kate Beckinsale in skin-tight black leather, Bill Nighy and Michael Sheen all should add up to a crazy awesome movie. Instead, the three previous Underworlds make great cures for insomnia. They’re some of the most soporific action movies I’ve ever seen. Underworld: Awakening boasts a new directing team, a third dimension and the return of Beckinsale. It’s also the most fun I’ve had watching one of these flicks, though nothing about Awakening elevates it much past the Resident Evil/Paul W.S. Anderson plane. Still, fans of the franchise should enjoy another round of blue-lit ultraviolence. Nighy and Sheen are duly missed as well; Stephen Rea alone is not just compensation for their absence. The best critique I can level at Underworld: Awakening: at least I didn’t fall asleep this time. That’s a step forward, right?

UNFORGIVEN (R) 1992. Tate is celebrating the Academy Awards with an Oscar Weekend celebration that includes Clint Eastwood’s brooding oater about William Munny, an aging gunfighter who takes one last job to help his dying family farm. The job leads him directly into the path of evil sheriff Little Bill (Oscar winner Gene Hackman). Eastwood is terrific as Munny and Morgan Freeman is better as partner Ned Logan, yet it’s Eastwood’s sure hand behind the camera that rules the day. One of the truly phenomenal films of the 1990s, Unforgiven rejuvenated Clint’s rather potent career as a filmmaker, not just an acting icon.

THE VOW (PG-13) Nicholas Sparks has to be kicking himself for not coming up with this plot first. A young couple, Paige and Leo Collins (Rachel McAdams and Channing Tatum), struggle to fall in love again after a car accident erases all of Paige’s memories of Leo and their marriage. As these plots are wont to do, Paige’s rich parents (Sam Neill and Jessica Lange) and her ex-lover (Scott Speedman) use her tabula rasa to rewrite their past wrongs, while Leo must cope with the realization that his wife might never remember him. The Vow climbs out of the romantic drama pits mostly due to its two charming leads, McAdams and Tatum, who must overcome some spotty dialogue, obvious plot developments and weak supporting players (not a lot of recognizable faces outside of those five already mentioned). Director Michael Sucsy, who won an Emmy and a Golden Globe for Grey Gardens, transitions to the big screen with surprising success considering the tear-soaked tissue of a true story with which he had to work. The Vow won’t make romance fans forget The Notebook, but it is better than most of the fake (and genuine) Sparks Hollywood’s been peddling.

WANDERLUST (R) I feel like it’s been years since I first read about this highly anticipated new comedy from Paul Rudd and his Role Models/ The Ten/ Wet Hot American Summer director David Wain. Rudd and Jennifer Aniston star as a thoroughly modern Manhattan couple who wind up experiencing the free love lifestyle of a rural commune. MTV “State†alums Wain and the awesome Ken Marino wrote the script; don’t be surprised when other “State†members pop up sans clothing. With Malin Ackerman, Ray Liotta, Justin Theroux, Kathryn Hahn, Lauren Ambrose and Alan Alda.

WE BOUGHT A ZOO (PG) This movie just generates some odd feelings. A movie directed by Cameron Crowe and starring Matt Damon, Scarlett Johansson and Thomas Haden Church sounds like a serious winner, but then there’s the title. A dad (Damon) moves his family to Southern California to renovate a struggling zoo. The Devil Wears Prada scripter Aline Brosh McKenna and Crowe relocate Benjamin Mee’s memoir from England to SoCal. Some say a similar move didn’t affect High Fidelity; I’m not one of those folks.

THE WOMAN IN BLACK (PG-13) Harry Potter himself, Daniel Radcliffe, returns to the big screen for his first role since the epic story of the famed Boy Who Lived ended. Sporting tremendously manicured sideburns (the tiny fellow resembles a young Wolverine), Radcliffe stars as lawyer Arthur Kipps, a widower struggling to raise his young son. To save his job, Kipps must travel to a small, isolated village and tidy up the affairs at an abandoned old house. Like something out of Lovecraft, the locals aren’t very welcoming to this strange newcomer. Director James Watkins chills his old-fashioned ‘aunted ‘ouse with creepy dolls, dead children and the titular black-clad woman. February horror films typically don’t have as many successful scares as this film contains in its nearly dialogue-free middle act. Due to smart hiring (Watkins, whose Eden Lake deserves a wider audience) and casting (Radcliffe works hard to prove he can be more than just Harry; Ciaran Hinds is always welcome), England’s hallowed Hammer Films proves they’ve still got it after all these years.