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15 Films to See in October

Written by on October 2, 2019 

It’s October, which means a season of horror awaits, but aside from a few compelling genre options this month, one might be best served to queue some classics. The best films coming to U.S. theaters over the next few weeks hail mainly from festivals from earlier this year beyond, with one clear-cut top selection. Check out our monthly picks below.

15. Sweetheart (J.D. Dillard; Oct. 22)

The first two films on this month’s round-up were late additions to the October slate. First up, J.D. Dillard’s creature feature is an inventive little delight. I said in my Sundance review, “When Tom Hanks was stranded on an island alone in Cast Away, he got the better end of the deal than what Kiersey Clemons faces in Sweetheart. Not only must she try to survive with limited resources on a deserted island, but her character Jen must also fight for her life against a cruel, otherworldly creature. Perhaps just a touch too minimalistic as it proceeds, Sweetheart can feel held back in taking its limited conceit to more daring places, but in that sense it’s the quintessential Blumhouse production. JD Dillard’s Sleight follow-up occupies one location with little required for design and all contained within a brisk 82 minutes–each of which feature Clemons, in an immensely strong showcase for her talents.”

14. Wounds (Babak Anvari; Oct. 18)

One of the biggest question marks of the year was if, in fact, the horror-thriller Wounds would make its way to screens before 2019 ends. Babak Anvari’s follow-up to Under the Shadow is now coming just in time for Halloween, but straight to Hulu. Starring Armie Hammer and Dakota Johnson as a couple whose relationship is tested after a mysterious cell phone is left behind at a local bar, I said in my review from Sundance, “If one wants to watch a sweaty, disturbed Armie Hammer wander around New Orleans as he’s haunted by a malevolent spiritual force, Wounds satisfies on those pleasurable, if undemanding expectations with its engrossing build-up. However, for those hoping that Babak Anvari’s follow-up to Under the Shadow would contain a little more substance in its frights–especially as the third act nuttiness ramps up–prepare for disappointment.”

13. Dolemite is My Name (Craig Brewer; Oct. 4)

Netflix has some fairly high-profile releases this fall, and one title that arrived to a strong response at TIFF was Dolemite Is My Name, from Hustle & Flow and Black Snake Moan director Craig Brewer. Led by Eddie Murphy as a comedian who attempts a comeback, the epic cast features Keegan-Michael Key, Mike Epps, Craig Robinson, Tituss Burgess, Da’Vine Joy Randolph, Kodi Smit-Mcphee, Snoop Dogg, Ron Cephas Jones, Barry Shabaka Henley, Tip ‘TI’ Harris, Luenell, Tasha Smith, and Wesley Snipes. Ethan Vestby was a bit mixed in his review, but I’m still looking forward to catching this on Netflix for the performances alone.

12. The Lighthouse (Robert Eggers; Oct. 18)

As an admirer of The Witch, I had high hopes for Robert Eggers’ follow-up The Lighthouse, but as much as Robert Pattinson and Willem Dafoe give it their all, the writer-director never really finds a center to the story. Instead, we’re left with impressive cinematography rich with avant-garde flourishes. It’s a beauty to behold, and deserves a recommendation on that factor alone, but will leave one with little to chew on. Rory O’Connor said in his more glowing review, “It’s a ghost story drenched in gritty, saltwater-flecked period accuracy and anchored in cautionary maritime fables, but one with a boozy, amorous, and darkly comic edge that made me think of everything from The Birds to Ben Wheatley’s similarly trippy A Field in England. Needless to say, it rules.”

11. By The Grace of God (François Ozon; Oct. 18)

After the ridiculous and fun erotic thriller Double Lover, François Ozon is getting far more serious with his next film. Ed Frankl said in his review, ” The French director delivered one of the best films of his eclectic career with By the Grace of God, a drama whose seriousness and sincerity marks a tonal shift for a filmmaker typically famous for sexual and sensual provocation. Instead, this chronicle of a real-life grassroots campaign to out Catholic priests who committed and covered up of historic sexual abuse is unsensational and methodical, immaculately written through a script that radically tells three different stories that slide seamlessly together.”

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