Netflix’s Army of Thieves, Paranormal Activity: Next of Kin, and every new movie you can
This weekend, Edgar Wright’s latest Giallo-inspied psychological thriller Last Night in Soho finally premieres in theaters in time for Halloween. But if you’re not feeling up to head out to the movies this weekend though, don’t worry; there’s tons of new movies to rent and stream this weekend.
At the top of the stack: Army of Thieves, the international heist action prequel to Zach Synder’s zombie heist action film Army of the Dead, a brand new entry in the Paranormal Activity franchise, the eerie fantasy family drama Lamb starring Noomi Rapace, and a Frank Frazetta-inspired rotoscope-animated epic.
To help you get a handle on what’s new and available, here are the movies you can watch with the click of a button this weekend.
Army of Thieves
Where to watch: Available to stream on Netflix
Ludwig Dieter, the safe-cracking savant first introduced in Zach Snyder’s 2021 zombie heist film Army of the Dead, returns in the decidedly non-zombie-related heist movie Army of Thieves. Set six years before the events of Army of the Dead, the film find Dieter in the early years of his safecracking career. Recruited by a mysterious woman named Gwendoline (Nathalie Emmaneul) to take part in a high-stakes heist involving the cracking of three notoriously impenetrable safes across Europe, Dieter will have to rise to the occasion if he has any hope of becoming a legend among thieves — let alone making it out of the job alive. Directed by and starring Matthias Schweighöfer, Army of Thieves looks like an appropriately explosive and entertaining enough follow-up to Snyder’s original film, but is there more beneath the surface? From our review,
The myopic goals of franchise-building consume Army of Thieves down to the rind. The origin of Sebastian’s eventual Ludwig Dieter pseudonym is tied to a comic book, with cringeworthy abandon. Sebastian often has dreams of zombies coming to kill him, setting up the story beat in Army of the Dead where he locks himself in a safe for protection. And the film’s prologue connects directly to Snyder’s flick, through a flash-forward sequence. The only variation Schweighöfer takes is in the look and the feel of his movie: It isn’t nearly as bleak. Brightly lit and with far less gunplay, it also isn’t as gruesome — or as entertaining, for that matter. The quirky humor drowns the film in maudlin seas.
Paranormal Activity: Next of Kin
Where to watch: Available to stream on Paramount Plus
The Paranormal Activity franchise is back and — likely thanks to the pandemic dent in the entertainment industry — straight to streaming. Directed by a William Eubanks, who’s made some lower-budget, visually stunning genre movies like Underwater and The Signal, Next of Kin followers a documentary filmmaker as she descends into an Amish community. But all is not right in the god-fearing community, and in true Paranormal Activity fashion, hell breaks loose. Expect slightly fewer flashing lights due to the lack of electricity, but plenty of 2021-friendly twists on the formula.
The Spine of Night
If you’re desperately yearning for an animated dark fantasy horror epic in the vein of Ralph Bakshi’s Fire and Ice, or if you just really, really miss Metalocalypse, The Spine of Night is the kind of film that was made for you. Directed by Love, Death & Robots writer Philip Gelatt and animator Morgan Galen King, The Spine of Night is an ultra-violent animated fantasy following several generations of warriors and heroes battling demonic forces loosed upon the world by a crime against the gods. Featuring hand-rotoscoped animation and boasting a cast of performances by Richard E. Grant, Lucy Lawless, Patton Oswalt, Joe Manganiello, and more, The Spine of Night promises to offer an over-the-top journey worth experiencing.
Noomi Rapace (Prometheus) and Hilmir Snær Guðnason star in Valdimar Jóhannsson’s dark fantastical Icelandic drama Lamb as a couple who discover a strange half-human, half-lamb creature born in their sheep born. With no children of their own, the couple adopt the young “child,” naming it Ada and attempt to raise it as their own with love, all while dark unseen forces conspire to lure the strange newborn back to the wilderness. As critic Alison Willmore wrote in her review for Vulture, “Lamb isn’t a horror movie. It’s more like a fairy tale, with all the darkness that most fairy tales have before they’re tidied up for contemporary consumption.”
Shuya Chang (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Sword of Destiny) stars in director Evan Jackson Leong’s action suspense drama Snakehead as Sister Tse, a young immigrant trying desperately to make a living in New York. Groomed by Dai Mah (Jade Wu), the matriarch of a ruthless Chinese crime family, Tse becomes a Snakehead (aka human smuggler) and rising through the ranks. However, when the ruthless realities of the job become too much to bear, Tse will be forced to choose what kind of life it is she wants to live in America — and how far she’s willing to go in order to realize it. The trailer looks exciting, with some impressive editing and action, and Chang certainly exudes a captivating presence of both desperation and steely command over the situation her character finds herself in.
And here’s what dropped last Friday:
Where to watch: In theaters and available to stream on HBO Max
Set in the year 10,191, Blade Runner 2049 director Denis Villenueve’s adaptation of the celebrated Frank Herbert sci-fi epic stars Timothée Chalamet as Paul Atreides, son and heir to the powerful Duke Leto Atreides (Oscar Isaac), who is forced to leave the planet of his birth to become the newly appointed stewards of Arrakis, a desert planet home to a coveted resource known as melange. There are sword fights, politics, intrigue, betrayal, drama, and oh — these colossal creatures called sandworms that burst out of the ground before devouring people. Honestly, there’s way too much to explain about Dune than can fit in a single paragraph, which is why we so lovingly put together this handy-dandy guide to explain its vast and strange universe. But enough of all that, let’s hone in on the biggest question: should you set aside time this weekend to watch Villeneuve’s latest, hulking sci-fi extravaganza? From our review,
If you can get lost in the cocoon of production, costume, and art-design opulence, and sink into the Big Event angle of it all — which is why people go to the movies, isn’t it? — the film, styled as Dune: Part One, can be overwhelmingly evocative. The problem, though, is the film’s pervasive emotional emptiness. Villeneuve and his co-writers, Jon Spaihts (of Passengers and Prometheus) and Eric Roth, rush through character journeys, and shortchange ostensible hero Paul Atreides (wild-hair-haver Timothée Chalamet). They skip over explaining most of the dense mythology of this world, instead collapsing entire communities into thinly rendered versions of other recognizable pop-culture figures. (The Fremen more or less become Tusken Raiders; the Bene Gesserit are Macbeth’s witches.) And the result of all that streamlining is that the connective thread linking all these disparate elements into a cohesive whole is nowhere to be found. The film is a splendid, threadbare tapestry that unravels as you’re watching it.