Movies out today: Dead dogs, snappy fish, demons and politicians

As we near Halloween, the number of new horror films on circuit has shot up. Today, out of 5 new releases, 3 can be classified as horrors in some form or another.

Frankenweenie:
Tim Burton's macabre live-action short from the 1980s gets a feature-length remake, and is given the stop-motion animation treatment. This dark family comedy centres on a young boy, Victor Frankenstein, who refuses to accept the death of his beloved dog Sparky. Harnessing the power of science, Victor brings Sparky back from the dead, but his suburban community isn't accepting of the new "monstrous" pooch. Shot in black and white and screening in 3D. Trailer Tuesday profile here.

With its "Boy and his Best friend" subject matter, Frankenweenie is my hands-down pick of the week. Although the film didn't set the US box office alight, it has racked up a very strong aggregated review score of  89% Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes. Apparently it's a touching tale made with noticeable love and attention to detail. Referencing classic horror movies and his own filmography, it's Burton's most likeable film in years. Can't escape the sense it's a padded short film though. 


Piranha 3DD:
If you love trash cinema you'll no doubt be excited for this sequel to the 2010 comedy horror remake. This time the prehistoric beasties escape the lake where they first caused carnage, and pop up instead at a sleazy water park. Expect plenty of blood, boob and an even greater amount of (deliberate) stupidity. With cameo appearances by Ving Rhames, David Hasselhoff, Gary Busey and Christopher Lloyd.

The big question is whether you're willing to pay inflated 3D ticket prices to see Piranha 3DD on the big screen? Judging by overseas reviews, it's not worth it. Even those who enjoyed Piranha 3D have sunk their fangs into its sequel - which apparently is all-round sloppy, strains to appear ridiculous and is just plain not fun. 13% Fresh.



The Possession:
Jewish flavour - instead of the usual Catholicism -  gets injected into this latest effort in the exorcism sub-genre. Supposedly based on a true story, this supernatural thriller stars Jeffrey Dean Morgan and Kyra Sedgwick  as the parents of a young girl who undergoes drastic changes when she buys a demon-inhabited dybbuk box. Only the local Hasidic community can help. Trailer Tuesday profile here.

The Possession apparently starts off strongly with good atmosphere, but ends up overblown and silly. It's well crafted and benefits from engaging performances, but there are no fresh ideas here. Just another Exorcist rip-off at the end of the day. 38% Fresh.



The Campaign:
Looking for something a bit more light-hearted and fright-free this weekend?  The Campaign teams 2 of cinemas most popular comedians of the moment - Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis. The funnymen play politicians competing for a seat on Congress. Naturally the rivalry descends into absurd mud-slinging and underhanded tactics. Also with Dylan McDermott, Jason Sudeikis, John Lithgow and Dan Aykroyd.

You won't be watching The Campaign for its piercing insight and wit. It's not afraid to be over-the-top, crude and childish. In other words, if you like the usual broad, silly work of Ferrell and Galifianakis, you should have a good laugh. 66% Fresh.



Hope Springs:
Those hungry for grounded film entertainment - or maybe considering a movie outing with their mom - should have a look at romantic comedy drama Hope Springs. Meryl Streep and Tommy Lee Jones star as an older couple struggling to reignite the spark of intimacy in their decades-long marriage. Steve Carell is their marriage counsellor.

Obviously the drawcard here is the talented cast. The convincing on-screen  chemistry of Streep, Jones and Carell makes the otherwise hit-and-miss film worthwhile, but beware! With its focus on painful relationship truths, Hope Springs is not necessarily an easy film to watch. 73% Fresh.
   

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