Wild

(Photo by Lionsgate/ courtesy Everett Collection)

All Saw Movies, Ranked By Tomatometer 

Saw came, Saw conquered, Saw…stuck around for a lot longer people were expecting. The franchise that popularized the torturous trend in mid-2000s horror arguably peaked early with critics: The original 2004 movie is half-appreciated for hardening the genre and for its infamous twist ending, and half-detested for its empty obsession with gristle, gore, and guts. But audiences lapped up the visceral thrills, and after the first sequel ramped up the pain and plot twists to box office highs, a franchise was born.

With part III, the story went full Search for Spock and pulled off the Saw equivalent of blowing up the Enterprise: It killed off its main malevolent villain, Jigsaw. But ol’ Jiggy is nothing if not meticulous, and was able to continue his warped games of moral vengeance from beyond the grave (not to mention with continuing appearances from fan-favorite Tobin Bell) for several more sequels. But by the seventh Saw, the mythology had become too complicated and the grosses (the money kind) were trending downwards; Saw 3D was ordered to cram several movies’ worth of plot into one whip-lashing finale.

After seven years, the series returned in 2017 with Jigsaw, which enjoyed a critical response that was about as sparkling as could be expected based on previous encounters. But the box office appeared encouraging enough to continue on for a ninth entry. Spiral: From the Book of Saw, a standalone entry starring Chris Rock and Samuel L. Jackson, is releasing after a yearlong delay caused by COVID. Before we see where Spiral places, we’re ranking all Saw movies by Tomatometer!

#9
#9
Adjusted Score: 11485%
Critics Consensus: Sloppily filmed, poorly acted, and illogically plotted, Saw 3D leaves viewers trapped in the most lackluster installment of the series.
Synopsis: As a fierce battle rages over Jigsaw's (Tobin Bell) terrible legacy, survivors seek support from a fellow survivor and self-help... [More]
Directed By: Kevin Greutert

#8

Saw V (2008)
13%

#8
Adjusted Score: 14485%
Critics Consensus: If its plot were as interesting as its torture devices, or its violence less painful than its performances, perhaps Saw V might not feel like it was running on fumes.
Synopsis: As the apparently last disciple and heir apparent of Jigsaw, Hoffman (Costas Mandylor) goes on the hunt to protect his... [More]
Directed By: David Hackl

#7

Saw IV (2007)
19%

#7
Adjusted Score: 22022%
Critics Consensus: Saw IV is more disturbing than compelling, with material already seen in the prior installments.
Synopsis: During the autopsy of serial killer Jigsaw (Tobin Bell), a cassette tape is discovered in his stomach in which he... [More]
Directed By: Darren Lynn Bousman

#6

Saw III (2006)
29%

#6
Adjusted Score: 32430%
Critics Consensus: Saw III does little beyond repeating its predecessor's tropes on a gorier level.
Synopsis: Dr. Lynn Denlon (Bahar Soomekh) becomes a pawn in the Jigsaw Killer's (Tobin Bell) latest gory game. Kidnapped and taken... [More]
Directed By: Darren Lynn Bousman

#5

Jigsaw (2017)
32%

#5
Adjusted Score: 37145%
Critics Consensus: Jigsaw definitely won't win many converts to the Saw franchise, but for longtime fans, it should prove a respectably revolting -- if rarely scary -- diversion.
Synopsis: After a series of murders bearing all the markings of the Jigsaw killer, law enforcement officials find themselves chasing the... [More]

#4

Saw II (2005)
37%

#4
Adjusted Score: 40450%
Critics Consensus: Saw II is likely to please the gore-happy fans of the original, though it may be too gruesome for those not familiar with first film's premise.
Synopsis: On the hunt for the twisted vigilante and serial killer Jigsaw (Tobin Bell), Detective Eric Matthews (Donnie Wahlberg) and his... [More]
Directed By: Darren Lynn Bousman

#3
Adjusted Score: 47871%
Critics Consensus: Spiral: From the Book of Saw suggests an interesting new direction for the Saw franchise, even if the gory sum is rather less than its parts.
Synopsis: A criminal mastermind unleashes a twisted form of justice in Spiral, the terrifying new chapter from the book of Saw.... [More]
Directed By: Darren Lynn Bousman

#2

Saw VI (2009)
40%

#2
Adjusted Score: 42408%
Critics Consensus: It won't earn the franchise many new fans, but Saw VI is a surprising step up for what has become an intricately grisly annual tradition.
Synopsis: With Jigsaw (Tobin Bell) still directing events from beyond the grave, Hoffman (Costas Mandylor) emerges as the heir to the... [More]
Directed By: Kevin Greutert

#1

Saw (2004)
51%

#1
Adjusted Score: 56769%
Critics Consensus: Saw ensnares audiences with a deceptively clever plot and a myriad of memorable, nasty set pieces, but its lofty ambitions are undercut by a nihilistic streak that feels more mean than profound.
Synopsis: Photographer Adam Stanheight (Leigh Whannell) and oncologist Lawrence Gordon (Cary Elwes) regain consciousness while chained to pipes at either end... [More]
Directed By: James Wan

Lethal Weapon

(Photo by Warner Brothers/courtesy Everett Collection. Thumbnail: Buena Vista Pictures, Columbia/Courtesy Everett Collection)

All Danny Glover Movies, Ranked by Tomatometer

The journey to fame and employment for every movie star is different, but Danny Glover‘s background of working in the public sector with a side theater hobby stands unique among his peers. His work for the city drove Glover’s strong political and social activism, which translated into his major movie debut, 1984’s Places in the Sun. More critically acclaimed films he starred in the years following that ran along the same lines, including prominent Black stories, among them The Color Purple, To Sleep With Anger, Bopha!, Beloved, and Grand Canyon.

But because he broke through in the ’80s, buddy-cop action flicks were what the people demanded, and Glover delivered. His Roger Murtaugh from Lethal Weapon is the best example of the buttoned-down family man foil to a loose-cannon partner, and together Murtaugh and Riggs rode through three more sequels. In fact, Glover’s mainstream bread-and-butter was playing these sympathetic yet strong authority figures or trustworthy officers, in films like Witness, Predator 2, Shooter, Operation Dumbo Drop, and even the original Saw. And he even eventually reached the highest office in the land when he became President of the United States in disaster movie 2012.

Glover has continually worked since getting that big break in 1984, all the more impressive that he was 40 when it happened. Recently, he’s been making appearances in vital contemporary Certified Fresh movies, including Dreamgirls, Beyond the Lights, and Sorry To Bother You. In 2019 alone, he was in The Last Black Man in San Francisco, The Dead Don’t Die, and Jumanji: The Next Level. And now we’re taking those and more as we rank all Danny Glover movies by Tomatometer!

#65
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: In 2154, young men and women must navigate their way through a deadly maze as spectators wager on their fates.... [More]
Directed By: Francesco Cinquemani

#64

Gone Fishin' (1997)
4%

#64
Adjusted Score: 4020%
Critics Consensus: Sloppy, formulaic, and unfunny, Gone Fishin' marks a painful low point in the careers of its two talented leads.
Synopsis: Joe (Joe Pesci) and Gus (Danny Glover) are lifelong friends who seem to encounter disaster wherever they go. They're ecstatic... [More]
Directed By: Christopher Cain

#63

Pure Luck (1991)
9%

#63
Adjusted Score: 4201%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: When Valerie Highsmith (Sheila Kelley) goes missing in Mexico, it isn't too surprising, as she is generally acknowledged as having... [More]
Directed By: Nadia Tass

#62
#62
Adjusted Score: 4658%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: With help from his crew, Capt. Ahab (Danny Glover) seeks vengeance against a great white dragon that killed his sister.... [More]
Directed By: Ryan Little

#61

Tokarev (2014)
12%

#61
Adjusted Score: 11974%
Critics Consensus: Depressingly dull and all-around poorly made, Rage is the rare Nicolas Cage action thriller lacking enough energy to reach "so bad it's good" territory.
Synopsis: Following the kidnapping and murder of his daughter (Aubrey Peeples), a reformed criminal (Nicolas Cage) returns to his old ways... [More]
Directed By: Paco Cabezas

#60

Alpha and Omega (2010)
18%

#60
Adjusted Score: 18423%
Critics Consensus: With bland visuals and a dull, predictable plot, Alpha and Omega is a runt in 2010's animated litter.
Synopsis: After park rangers capture and ship them halfway across the country, omega wolf Humphrey (Justin Long) and alpha wolf Kate... [More]
Directed By: Anthony Bell, Ben Gluck

#59

Diablo (2015)
19%

#59
Adjusted Score: 19397%
Critics Consensus: Diablo has neither the intelligence nor the originality to compete with the revisionist latter-day Westerns it owes obvious debts to.
Synopsis: A young Civil War veteran (Scott Eastwood) embarks on a quest to save his kidnapped wife (Camilla Belle) from a... [More]
Directed By: Lawrence Roeck

#58

Legendary (2010)
18%

#58
Adjusted Score: 18868%
Critics Consensus: Maudlin, predictable, and clichéd, Legendary pins its talented cast under a heavy layer of formulaic schmaltz.
Synopsis: Hoping that his estranged brother (John Cena) will train him, a scrawny teenager (Devon Graye) joins his high-school wrestling team.... [More]
Directed By: Mel Damski

#57
Adjusted Score: 24621%
Critics Consensus: Unimaginative and unfunny, this tale of barnyard mischief borders on 'udder' creepiness and adds little to this summer's repertoire of animated films.
Synopsis: Like the other animals in the barn, Otis the bull (Kevin James) likes to sing and play while the farmer... [More]
Directed By: Steve Oedekerk

#56

Donovan's Echo (2011)
33%

#56
Adjusted Score: 13973%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: After he discovers events from his past are repeating, Donovan (Danny Glover) is convinced his young neighbor and her mother... [More]
Directed By: Jim Cliffe

#55
#55
Adjusted Score: 25075%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: U.S. Navy pilot Lt. Jake Grafton (Brad Johnson) and his bombardier buddy, Lt. Cmdr. Virgil Cole (Willem Dafoe), are two... [More]
Directed By: John Milius

#54

Proud Mary (2018)
25%

#54
Adjusted Score: 28820%
Critics Consensus: Proud Mary proves Taraji P. Henson has more than enough attitude and charisma to carry an action movie -- just not, unfortunately, one this indifferently assembled.
Synopsis: Mary is a professional assassin who works for Benny, a ruthless gangster who heads an organized crime family in Boston.... [More]
Directed By: Babak Najafi

#53

Supremacy (2014)
27%

#53
Adjusted Score: 13296%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: After a fugitive white supremacist (Joe Anderson) takes him and his family hostage, a black man (Danny Glover) uses their... [More]
Directed By: Deon Taylor

#52

Predator 2 (1990)
30%

#52
Adjusted Score: 30178%
Critics Consensus: The thrill of the hunt is gone in this hackneyed sequel.
Synopsis: Los Angeles is enduring a heat wave and a crime wave, so the pressure on police officer Michael Harrigan (Danny... [More]
Directed By: Stephen Hopkins

#51
#51
Adjusted Score: 31020%
Critics Consensus: The Vietnam War would seem an unlikely backdrop for a family-friendly comedy involving an airlifted elephant, and Operation Dumbo Drop lands with a thud.
Synopsis: Soon-to-retire Captain Sam Cahill (Danny Glover) and his unit labor to build a secret relationship with a local Vietnamese village... [More]
Directed By: Simon Wincer

#50

Switchback (1997)
32%

#50
Adjusted Score: 32870%
Critics Consensus: Burdened by its heavy load of digressive plots turns and uneven performances, Switchback never gains any sense of narrative momentum.
Synopsis: After his son is kidnapped by a notorious serial killer, FBI agent Frank LaCrosse (Dennis Quaid) travels to Amarillo, Texas,... [More]
Directed By: Jeb Stuart

#49

Gospel Hill (2008)
33%

#49
Adjusted Score: 8870%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Jack Herrod (Tom Bower), the racist former sheriff of a South Carolina town, is dying of cancer. Decades ago, when... [More]
Directed By: Giancarlo Esposito

#48
#48
Adjusted Score: 33215%
Critics Consensus: A queasy mishmash of poignant drama and slapstick fantasy, Angels in the Outfield strikes out as worthy family entertainment.
Synopsis: Foster kid Roger (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) loves the Anaheim Angels, even though they're the worst team in the major leagues. His... [More]
Directed By: William Dear

#47

Luv (2012)
34%

#47
Adjusted Score: 34836%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Accompanied by his young nephew (Michael Rainey Jr.), an ex-convict (Common) tries to raise money through a drug deal.... [More]
Directed By: Sheldon Candis

#46
Adjusted Score: 19675%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Justices (Frank Langella, Danny Glover) of the Supreme Court discuss boxer Muhammad Ali's refusal to fight in the Vietnam War.... [More]
Directed By: Stephen Frears

#45

2012 (2009)
39%

#45
Adjusted Score: 49224%
Critics Consensus: Roland Emmerich's 2012 provides plenty of visual thrills, but lacks a strong enough script to support its massive scope and inflated length.
Synopsis: Earth's billions of inhabitants are unaware that the planet has an expiration date. With the warnings of an American scientist... [More]
Directed By: Roland Emmerich

#44
#44
Adjusted Score: 42100%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Daniel is an idealistic and dedicated priest who loves his work more than anything else, until a chance meeting with... [More]
Directed By: Paul Shoulberg

#43
#43
Adjusted Score: 46866%
Critics Consensus: It's amusing and it assembles a talented cast, but Neil LaBute's surprisingly faithful remake of the 2007 Frank Oz dramedy ultimately falls short of the original.
Synopsis: Preparing for a funeral is never pleasant, but for Aaron, it is shaping up to be the worst day of... [More]
Directed By: Neil LaBute

#42

Blindness (2008)
43%

#42
Adjusted Score: 49214%
Critics Consensus: This allegorical disaster film about society's reaction to mass blindness is mottled and self-satisfied; provocative but not as interesting as its premise implies.
Synopsis: When an epidemic of a disease known as the "white sickness" appears in her city, the wife (Julianne Moore) of... [More]
Directed By: Fernando Meirelles

#41

Shooter (2007)
47%

#41
Adjusted Score: 53181%
Critics Consensus: With an implausible story and numerous plot holes, Shooter fails to distinguish itself from other mindless action-thrillers.
Synopsis: A top Marine sniper, Bob Lee Swagger (Mark Wahlberg), leaves the military after a mission goes horribly awry and disappears... [More]
Directed By: Antoine Fuqua

#40

Almost Christmas (2016)
49%

#40
Adjusted Score: 52585%
Critics Consensus: While far from the worst holiday dramedy audiences could hope for, Almost Christmas isn't distinctive enough to prompt a visit to the theater -- or annual yuletide viewings.
Synopsis: Walter Meyer (Danny Glover) is a retired mechanic who lost the love of his life one year earlier. Now that... [More]
Directed By: David E. Talbert

#39

Battle for Terra (2007)
48%

#39
Adjusted Score: 51408%
Critics Consensus: Despite its earnest aspirations to be a thought-provoking sci-fi alternative, Battle for Terra lacks both a cohesive story and polished visuals, and fails to resonate.
Synopsis: When strange objects appear in the sky above the peaceful world of Terra, some of the inhabitants believe the gods... [More]
Directed By: Aristomenis Tsirbas

#38

Saw (2004)
51%

#38
Adjusted Score: 56769%
Critics Consensus: Saw ensnares audiences with a deceptively clever plot and a myriad of memorable, nasty set pieces, but its lofty ambitions are undercut by a nihilistic streak that feels more mean than profound.
Synopsis: Photographer Adam Stanheight (Leigh Whannell) and oncologist Lawrence Gordon (Cary Elwes) regain consciousness while chained to pipes at either end... [More]
Directed By: James Wan

#37

Boesman & Lena (2000)
50%

#37
Adjusted Score: 31017%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Carrying bottles, pots, wire, twigs around their shoulders and a few pieces of clothing, Boesman and Lena are forced to... [More]
Directed By: John Berry

#36

Manderlay (2005)
50%

#36
Adjusted Score: 53954%
Critics Consensus: Manderlay may work better as a political statement than as a film, making its points at the expense of telling a compelling story.
Synopsis: In 1933 a young woman, named Grace (Bryce Dallas Howard), and her father discover an Alabama plantation whose inhabitants live... [More]
Directed By: Lars von Trier

#35

Complete Unknown (2016)
51%

#35
Adjusted Score: 55054%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: A married man (Michael Shannon) is convinced that an unexpected guest (Rachel Weisz) at his birthday party is a former... [More]
Directed By: Joshua Marston

#34

Lethal Weapon 4 (1998)
53%

#34
Adjusted Score: 55398%
Critics Consensus: Jet Li's arrival breathes fresh life into a tired franchise formula -- but not enough to put Lethal Weapon 4 on equal footing with its predecessors.
Synopsis: Detective Riggs (Mel Gibson) tries to settle down with his pregnant girlfriend, Lorna (Rene Russo), while his partner, Murtaugh (Danny... [More]
Directed By: Richard Donner

#33
#33
Adjusted Score: 73353%
Critics Consensus: The Dead Don't Die dabbles with tones and themes to varying degrees of success, but sharp wit and a strong cast make this a zom-com with enough brains to consume.
Synopsis: In the sleepy small town of Centerville, something is not quite right. The moon hangs large and low in the... [More]
Directed By: Jim Jarmusch

#32

About Scout (2015)
60%

#32
Adjusted Score: 19952%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Scout (India Ennenga), a 15 year-old Goth girl, embarks on a road trip across Texas with a suicidal man (James... [More]
Directed By: Laurie Weltz

#31

Lethal Weapon 3 (1992)
60%

#31
Adjusted Score: 63654%
Critics Consensus: Murtaugh and Riggs remain an appealing partnership, but Lethal Weapon 3 struggles to give them a worthy new adventure as it cranks up the camp along with the mean-spiritedness.
Synopsis: Veteran police detective Roger Murtaugh (Danny Glover) is only days away from retiring when he and his tough partner, Martin... [More]
Directed By: Richard Donner

#30

Mr. Pig (2016)
57%

#30
Adjusted Score: 57100%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: An American sees the beauty of Mexico during a road trip.... [More]
Directed By: Diego Luna

#29
#29
Adjusted Score: 32569%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Terror strikes when three college students encounter a ghost on the most haunted road in America.... [More]
Directed By: Matthew Currie Holmes

#28

A Rage in Harlem (1991)
65%

#28
Adjusted Score: 66048%
Critics Consensus: If it can't quite live up to its source material, A Rage in Harlem still proves a stylishly effective period thriller.
Synopsis: After her gangster boyfriend, Slim (Badja Djola), has a shootout with the police, Imabelle (Robin Givens) flees Natchez, Miss., with... [More]
Directed By: Bill Duke

#27

Be Kind Rewind (2008)
65%

#27
Adjusted Score: 68872%
Critics Consensus: Slighter and less disciplined than Gondry's previous mind-benders.
Synopsis: After a man (Jack Black) accidentally creates a magnetic field that erases a store's videotapes, he hatches a daring scheme... [More]
Directed By: Michel Gondry

#26

Come Sunday (2018)
68%

#26
Adjusted Score: 68184%
Critics Consensus: Come Sunday benefits greatly from Chiwetel Ejiofor's central performance, which is often enough to lift an otherwise uneven drama.
Synopsis: Internationally-renowned pastor Carlton Pearson risks his church, family and future when he questions church doctrine and finds himself branded a... [More]
Directed By: Joshua Marston

#25

Honeydripper (2007)
69%

#25
Adjusted Score: 70855%
Critics Consensus: Honeydripper's electric musical numbers and sharp performances make for an exciting film, despite its slow pace.
Synopsis: Faced with mounting debts and stiff competition from a rival nightclub and its newfangled jukebox, small-town Alabama club owner Tyrone... [More]
Directed By: John Sayles

#24
#24
Adjusted Score: 86153%
Critics Consensus: Like many classic games, Jumanji: The Next Level retains core components of what came before while adding enough fresh bits to keep things playable.
Synopsis: When Spencer goes back into the fantastical world of Jumanji, pals Martha, Fridge and Bethany re-enter the game to bring... [More]
Directed By: Jake Kasdan

#23

Silverado (1985)
76%

#23
Adjusted Score: 78315%
Critics Consensus: Boasting rich detail and well-told story, Silverado is a rare example of an '80s Hollywood Western done right.
Synopsis: Rambling man Emmett (Scott Glenn) assembles a group of misfit cowboys (Kevin Costner), (Kevin Kline, Danny Glover). After helping a... [More]
Directed By: Lawrence Kasdan

#22

Grand Canyon (1991)
77%

#22
Adjusted Score: 79136%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: A diverse group of characters are thrown together through chance encounters while coping with urban chaos in L.A. The main... [More]
Directed By: Lawrence Kasdan

#21

Mooz-lum (2010)
80%

#21
Adjusted Score: 34464%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: A young man from a strict Muslim background begins college. Due to the 9/11 attacks, he is pushed to confront... [More]
Directed By: Qasim Basir

#20

Beloved (1998)
78%

#20
Adjusted Score: 80333%
Critics Consensus: A powerful, emotional and successful film adaptation of the original novel.
Synopsis: In 1873 Ohio, Sethe (Oprah Winfrey) is a mother of three haunted by her horrific slavery past and her desperate... [More]
Directed By: Jonathan Demme

#19

Dreamgirls (2006)
78%

#19
Adjusted Score: 86908%
Critics Consensus: Dreamgirls' simple characters and plot hardly detract from the movie's real feats: the electrifying performances and the dazzling musical numbers.
Synopsis: Deena (Beyoncé Knowles),Effie (Jennifer Hudson) and Lorrell (Anika Noni Rose) form a music trio called the Dreamettes. When ambitious manager... [More]
Directed By: Bill Condon

#18
Adjusted Score: 77593%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: In New York City, Jerry (Danny Glover), a homeless, street-smart Vietnam veteran, befriends Matthew (Matt Dillon), a mentally ill young... [More]
Directed By: Tim Hunter

#17

Lethal Weapon (1987)
80%

#17
Adjusted Score: 84377%
Critics Consensus: The most successful installment in a phenomenally successful series, Lethal Weapon helped redefine action movies for the 1980s and 1990s.
Synopsis: Following the death of his wife, Los Angeles police detective Martin Riggs (Mel Gibson) becomes reckless and suicidal. When he... [More]
Directed By: Richard Donner

#16
#16
Adjusted Score: 83756%
Critics Consensus: The Prince of Egypt's stunning visuals and first-rate voice cast more than compensate for the fact that it's better crafted than it is emotionally involving.
Synopsis: In this animated retelling of the Book of Exodus, Egyptian Prince Moses (Val Kilmer), upon discovering his roots as a... [More]

#15
#15
Adjusted Score: 88551%
Critics Consensus: The Royal Tenenbaums is a delightful adult comedy with many quirks and a sense of poignancy. Many critics especially praised Hackman's performance.
Synopsis: Royal Tenenbaum and his wife Etheline had three children and then they separated. All three children are extraordinary --- all... [More]
Directed By: Wes Anderson

#14

Bat 21 (1988)
81%

#14
Adjusted Score: 81432%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Lt. Col. Iceal Hambleton (Gene Hackman) is shot down behind enemy lines during the waning days of the Vietnam War.... [More]
Directed By: Peter Markle

#13

The Color Purple (1985)
81%

#13
Adjusted Score: 82023%
Critics Consensus: It might have been better served by a filmmaker with a deeper connection to the source material, but The Color Purple remains a worthy, well-acted adaptation of Alice Walker's classic novel.
Synopsis: An epic tale spanning forty years in the life of Celie (Whoopi Goldberg), an African-American woman living in the South... [More]
Directed By: Steven Spielberg

#12

Bopha! (1993)
82%

#12
Adjusted Score: 81069%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Micah Mangena (Danny Glover) is a black police officer in a small township in apartheid-era South Africa. Mangena is overseen... [More]
Directed By: Morgan Freeman

#11

Poor Boy's Game (2007)
83%

#11
Adjusted Score: 22328%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Boxer Donnie (Rossif Sutherland), jailed for nine years after causing brain damage to a boy he assaulted, is finally released.... [More]
Directed By: Clément Virgo

#10
Adjusted Score: 84813%
Critics Consensus: Invigorated by its talented cast and Francis Ford Coppola's strong direction, The Rainmaker is a satisfying legal drama -- and arguably the best of Hollywood's many John Grisham adaptations.
Synopsis: Struggling new attorney Rudy Baylor (Matt Damon) resorts to working for a shady lawyer (Mickey Rourke), where he meets paralegal... [More]
Directed By: Francis Ford Coppola

#9

Lethal Weapon 2 (1989)
82%

#9
Adjusted Score: 85368%
Critics Consensus: Lethal Weapon 2 may sport a thin plot typical of action fare, but its combination of humor and adrenaline, along with the chemistry between its leads, make this a playful, entertaining sequel.
Synopsis: South African smugglers find themselves being hounded and harassed by Riggs and Murtaugh, two mismatched Los Angeles police officers. However,... [More]
Directed By: Richard Donner

#8
#8
Adjusted Score: 85370%
Critics Consensus: Thanks to smart direction and a powerhouse performance from Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Beyond the Lights transcends its formulaic storyline to deliver thoroughly entertaining drama.
Synopsis: Though she's been groomed for stardom all her life by an overbearing mother (Minnie Driver), singer Noni (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) is... [More]
Directed By: Gina Prince-Bythewood

#7
#7
Adjusted Score: 88872%
Critics Consensus: To Sleep with Anger examines cultural tensions with a deft hand and a potent blend of comedy and drama, stirred skillfully to life by a strong cast led by Danny Glover.
Synopsis: Vagabond Harry (Danny Glover) pays an unexpected visit to his old chum Gideon (Paul Butler), who accepts the aimless man... [More]
Directed By: Charles Burnett

#6
#6
Adjusted Score: 91614%
Critics Consensus: Places in the Heart is a quiet character piece with grand ambitions that it more than fulfills, thanks to absorbing work from writer-director Robert Benton and a tremendous cast.
Synopsis: In 1935 rural Texas, recently widowed Edna Spaulding (Sally Field) struggles to survive with two small children, a farm to... [More]
Directed By: Robert Benton

#5

Antz (1998)
92%

#5
Adjusted Score: 97015%
Critics Consensus: Featuring a stellar voice cast, technically dazzling animation, and loads of good humor, Antz should delight both children and adults.
Synopsis: Z the worker ant (Woody Allen) strives to reconcile his own individuality with the communal work-ethic of the ant colony.... [More]
Directed By: Eric Darnell, Tim Johnson

#4

Witness (1985)
93%

#4
Adjusted Score: 95095%
Critics Consensus: A wonderfully entertaining thriller within an unusual setting, with Harrison Ford delivering a surprisingly emotive and sympathetic performance.
Synopsis: After witnessing a brutal murder, young Amish boy Samuel (Lukas Haas) and his mother Rachel (Kelly McGillis) seek protection from... [More]
Directed By: Peter Weir

#3
Adjusted Score: 104592%
Critics Consensus: An affecting story powerfully told, The Last Black Man in San Francisco immediately establishes director Joe Talbot as a filmmaker to watch.
Synopsis: Jimmie and his best friend Mont try to reclaim the house built by Jimmie's grandfather, launching them on a poignant... [More]
Directed By: Joe Talbot

#2
#2
Adjusted Score: 108348%
Critics Consensus: A well-told story brought to life by a beautifully matched cast, The Old Man & the Gun is pure, easygoing entertainment for film fans - and a fitting farewell to a legend.
Synopsis: At the age of 70, Forrest Tucker makes an audacious escape from San Quentin, conducting an unprecedented string of heists... [More]
Directed By: David Lowery

#1
#1
Adjusted Score: 111982%
Critics Consensus: Fearlessly ambitious, scathingly funny, and thoroughly original, Sorry to Bother You loudly heralds the arrival of a fresh filmmaking talent in writer-director Boots Riley.
Synopsis: In an alternate reality of present-day Oakland, Calif., telemarketer Cassius Green finds himself in a macabre universe after he discovers... [More]
Directed By: Boots Riley

(Photo by Universal / courtesy Everett Collection)

20 Movies To Watch If You Loved The Invisible Man

If you’re looking for more movies like The Invisible Man, surprise: We’ve got a few recommendations! To get it out of the way, yep, The Invisible Man is a new entry in the Universal Classic Monster franchise. It was the first cinematic universe, kicking off way back in the ’20s. (The 1920s and not, you know, our ’20s.) Dracula, the Wolfman, Frankenstein’s monster, the Mummy are all part of this motley crew, including the Invisible Man, who had six previous movies. This new Invisible Man is notable for its departure from formula by framing the story from the victim’s perspective, but we’re including these original six Universal Monster movies here for historical context. And, hell, let’s throw in the other famous hard-to-see creep, Hollow Man, as a reminder that for decades, this is all we had in the invisible jerk subgenre.

2020’s The Invisible Man, besides being a cracking horror/thriller, has also captured the zeitgeist for Moss’ Cecilia character and her plight. Cecilia flees a violent relationship, only to be tormented and trapped by her abuser, and made to look crazy in the eyes of friends and family. This is a form of gaslighting, a term specifically derived from 1944’s Gaslight, a psychological thriller starring Ingrid Bergman as a wife manipulated by her husband into thinking she’s going insane. 1955’s Diabolique is probably the best of this type of story, though shout-out to Satoshi Kon’s Perfect Blue, and even Scream, once you arrive at its endgame revelations. Black Swan, High Tension, and Girl, Interrupted are also worth watching through the lens of female-driven stories with shifty narratives.

Invisible Man has drawn high marks for its use of negative space, which forces viewers to search through seemingly banal shots for hidden terrors, drumming up considerable dread and paranoia. It Follows — about a malevolent entity taking the shape of humans, often depicted shuffling in backgrounds — is a previous horror phenomenon that similarly uses negative space to maximum effect.

Audiences may also be impressed by Invisible Man’s stylish presentation. Writer/director Leigh Whannell had already made a name for himself in horror by co-creating the Saw series (he’s also one of the leads in the first movie). But his 2018 cyberpunk/body horror/action effort Upgrade represented a dramatic creative leap forward for him. It’s fun to see Whannell apply Upgrade’s style towards the world of The Invisible Man.

And, of course, there’s Elisabeth Moss, who first came to public attention with The West WingMad Men, and then in the inescapable The Handmaid’s Tale. But Moss has been acting in film since the early ’90s (who can forget her as “little girl” in Suburban Commando?) and her most notable movie work is of the last few years: 2014’s The One I Love (witness her in a slightly happier relationship, before it turns sci-fi bizarre), psychological thriller Queen of Earth, and 2019 acting showcase Her Smell.

#20

Hollow Man (2000)
27%

#20
Adjusted Score: 31229%
Critics Consensus: Despite awesome special effects, Hollow Man falls short of other films directed by Paul Verhoeven. This flick over time degenerates into a typical horror film.
Synopsis: The thought of human invisibility has intrigued man for centuries. Highly gifted scientist Sebastian Caine develops a serum that induces... [More]
Directed By: Paul Verhoeven

#19
Adjusted Score: 8268%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: A criminal (Jon Hall) haunts his enemies' mansion after a mad scientist (John Carradine) makes him invisible.... [More]
Directed By: Ford Beebe

#18
#18
Adjusted Score: 44223%
Critics Consensus: There is indeed a good amount of tension in this French slasher, but the dubbing is bad and the end twist unbelievable.
Synopsis: A beautiful young Frenchwoman, Alex (Maïwenn Le Besco), travels out to the country to visit her family and brings along... [More]
Directed By: Alexandre Aja

#17

Saw (2004)
51%

#17
Adjusted Score: 56769%
Critics Consensus: Saw ensnares audiences with a deceptively clever plot and a myriad of memorable, nasty set pieces, but its lofty ambitions are undercut by a nihilistic streak that feels more mean than profound.
Synopsis: Photographer Adam Stanheight (Leigh Whannell) and oncologist Lawrence Gordon (Cary Elwes) regain consciousness while chained to pipes at either end... [More]
Directed By: James Wan

#16
#16
Adjusted Score: 57913%
Critics Consensus: Angelina Jolie gives an intense performance, but overall Girl, Interrupted suffers from thin, predictable plotting that fails to capture the power of its source material.
Synopsis: Set in the changing world of the late 1960s, "Girl, Interrupted" is the searing true story of Susanna Kaysen (Winona... [More]
Directed By: James Mangold

#15

Invisible Agent (1942)
67%

#15
Adjusted Score: 53162%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: An Allied spy (Jon Hall) made invisible by chemistry outwits Axis agents with his blond-braided lover (Ilona Massey).... [More]
Directed By: Edwin L. Marin

#14
#14
Adjusted Score: 24545%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: A screwy professor's experiments with a gorgeous model attract the attentions of a gangster and a handsome millionaire.... [More]
Directed By: A. Edward Sutherland

#13

Perfect Blue (1997)
80%

#13
Adjusted Score: 82020%
Critics Consensus: Perfect Blue is overstylized, but its core mystery is always compelling, as are the visual theatrics.
Synopsis: A mysterious figure stalks a pop star when she becomes an actor on a television show.... [More]
Directed By: Satoshi Kon

#12

Scream (1996)
79%

#12
Adjusted Score: 83873%
Critics Consensus: Horror icon Wes Craven's subversive deconstruction of the genre is sly, witty, and surprisingly effective as a slasher film itself, even if it's a little too cheeky for some.
Synopsis: The sleepy little town of Woodsboro just woke up screaming. There's a killer in their midst who's seen a few... [More]
Directed By: Wes Craven

#11
Adjusted Score: 80360%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Two detective-school graduates (Bud Abbott, Lou Costello) help a framed boxer who can make himself disappear.... [More]
Directed By: Charles Lamont

#10

The One I Love (2014)
82%

#10
Adjusted Score: 85464%
Critics Consensus: The One I Love doesn't take its intriguing premise quite as far as it could, but it still adds up to an ambitious, well-acted look at love and marriage.
Synopsis: A couple (Mark Duplass, Elisabeth Moss) whose marriage is crumbling have a surreal experience during a weekend getaway at a... [More]
Directed By: Charlie McDowell

#9
Adjusted Score: 88844%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Wrongly accused of murdering his brother, Geoffrey Radcliffe (Vincent Price) is found guilty and sentenced to die. But when sympathetic... [More]
Directed By: Joe May

#8

Her Smell (2018)
84%

#8
Adjusted Score: 90996%
Critics Consensus: Held together by a gripping lead performance from Elisabeth Moss, Her Smell is challenging and admittedly uneven, but ultimately worth the effort.
Synopsis: Becky Something is a talented but self-destructive musician who seems determined to alienate everyone around her -- even at the... [More]
Directed By: Alex Ross Perry

#7

Black Swan (2010)
85%

#7
Adjusted Score: 96516%
Critics Consensus: Bracingly intense, passionate, and wildly melodramatic, Black Swan glides on Darren Aronofsky's bold direction -- and a bravura performance from Natalie Portman.
Synopsis: Nina (Natalie Portman) is a ballerina whose passion for the dance rules every facet of her life. When the company's... [More]
Directed By: Darren Aronofsky

#6

Gaslight (1944)
88%

#6
Adjusted Score: 91032%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: After the death of her famous opera-singing aunt, Paula (Ingrid Bergman) is sent to study in Italy to become a... [More]
Directed By: George Cukor

#5

Upgrade (2018)
88%

#5
Adjusted Score: 99399%
Critics Consensus: Like its augmented protagonist, Upgrade's old-fashioned innards get a high-tech boost -- one made even more powerful thanks to sharp humor and a solidly well-told story.
Synopsis: A brutal mugging leaves Grey Trace paralyzed in the hospital and his beloved wife dead. A billionaire inventor soon offers... [More]
Directed By: Leigh Whannell

#4

Queen of Earth (2015)
93%

#4
Adjusted Score: 94720%
Critics Consensus: Led by a searing performance from Elisabeth Moss, Queen of Earth is a demanding -- and ultimately rewarding -- addition to writer-director Alex Ross Perry's impressive filmography.
Synopsis: Tensions rise when an emotionally fragile woman (Elisabeth Moss) spends one week with her best friend (Katherine Waterston).... [More]
Directed By: Alex Ross Perry

#3

Diabolique (1955)
96%

#3
Adjusted Score: 100996%
Critics Consensus: Cruel, dark, but undeniably effective, Diabolique is a suspense thriller as effective as Hitchcock's best work and with a brilliant twist ending.
Synopsis: In this classic of French suspense, the cruel and abusive headmaster of a boarding school, Michel Delassalle (Paul Meurisse), becomes... [More]
Directed By: Henri-Georges Clouzot

#2

It Follows (2014)
96%

#2
Adjusted Score: 105966%
Critics Consensus: Smart, original, and above all terrifying, It Follows is the rare modern horror film that works on multiple levels -- and leaves a lingering sting.
Synopsis: After carefree teenager Jay (Maika Monroe) sleeps with her new boyfriend, Hugh (Jake Weary), for the first time, she learns... [More]
Directed By: David Robert Mitchell

#1
#1
Adjusted Score: 101681%
Critics Consensus: James Whale's classic The Invisible Man features still-sharp special effects, loads of tension, a goofy sense of humor, and a memorable debut from Claude Rains.
Synopsis: While researching a new drug, Dr. Jack Griffin (Claude Rains) stumbles on a potion that can make him invisible. When... [More]
Directed By: James Whale

In the 1970s and 1980s, a horror renaissance rocked the film industry, riding on the wave of George Romero’s 1969 low-budget zombie breakout Night of the Living Dead. There was a general feeling that something special was happening, where even directors as esteemed as Stanley Kubrick, Nicolas Roeg, and Peter Medak were flocking to the genre, while others more dedicated to horror, like Tobe Hooper, John Carpenter, and Wes Craven were pushing the goal posts for scares. Even though the enthusiasm for innovative horror waned somewhat in the past couple of decades, with notable exceptions from the likes of Craven and newcomers like James Wan, the special feeling of a “movement” in horror seems to have finally returned, and with it a new class of the Masters of Horror who will lead us through the dark.

Whittling this list to 21 was a near-impossible task when you’ve got so many visionary filmmakers working in the genre, including queen Karyn Kusama (The Invitation), the Soska sisters (Rabid), Julia Ducournau (Raw), Coralie Fargeat (Revenge), Hélène Cattet and Bruno Forzani (Amer), Chelsea Stardust (Satanic Panic), Ana Asensio (Most Beautiful Island), Nia DaCosta (the upcoming Candyman), Na Hong-jin (The Wailing), Ti West (The Innkeepers), Jorge Michel Grau (We Are What We Are), Jennifer Wexler (The Ranger), Joko Anwar (Satan’s Slaves), Mattie Do (Dearest Sister), Gigi Guerrero (Culture Shock), Xander Robin (Are We Not Cats), and Demian Rugna (Terrified). (That’s not to mention producers like Jason Blum, dedicating their professional lives to scaring us stupid; but we’re limiting this roll call to directors, though some of those produce, as you’ll see. )

The list goes on and on, but here’s 21 that have made our blood pump and eyes pop recently, and are pushing the genre forward with every new work they make.


Ari Aster

Ari Aster

(Photo by James Minchin /© A24 /Courtesy Everett Collection)

Ari Aster, much like George Romero, did not see himself as a horror director before his breakout debut. Hereditary, starring Toni Collette in an awards-worthy performance, is a family drama that plays out like one long exhilarating gasp for breath. Aster’s follow-up, Midsommar digs around in the same psychological playground, though this time covering the dissolution of a romantic relationship. Both films recategorize the meaning of “scare,” as Aster mines the terror of simply being uncomfortable with other people to a nearly wacky psycho-comedy effect.


Jordan Peele

Jordan Peele

(Photo by Claudette Barius / © Universal)

What else is there to say about Jordan Peele? He single-handedly proved that black people want to see themselves in horror films and that other people all over the world would like to see it too. His films stray so far from what many would deem commercially acceptable — a lengthy monologue about inequality delivered amongst a bunch of rabbits in a kind of magical basement world? And yet his stories are compelling because they’re unlike anything else in theaters, their cinematic influences evident but not overbearing. Peele’s making horror weird again, and he’s making it matter.


Jennifer Kent

Jennifer KEnt

(Photo by ©IFC Midnight/Courtesy Everett Collection)

When Jennifer Kent’s debut horror The Babadook shocked audiences, the potential for horror to mine desperate grief came into 20/20 view. Not only that, but distinctly down-and-dirty, terrible, feminine grief. It’s not unusual for horror films to star women — this has been a defining characteristic of the genre — but it was unusual to see a heroine slowly morph into a highly relatable villain in such a visceral manner. In her newest film The Nightingale, Kent continues to push her heroines past a point of likeability with an eye on doing away with the “strong woman” trope that has rendered so many female characters into caricatures of femininity.


Mike Flanagan

Mike Flanagan

(Photo by Justin M. Lubin/© Universal Pictures /Courtesy Everett Collection)

Mike Flanagan has toiled in the genre fields for almost two decades, writing, directing, and editing his own films, which included Ghosts of Hamilton Street, Absentia, Oculus, and Hush, before he got his name-making box office hit, Ouija: Origin of Evil. Flanagan has a rare ability to please mainstream audiences while still pushing boundaries of horror, as he did with the wildly popular Haunting of Hill House Netflix series, which, among other cool tricks, hid a number of ghosts in the frame. That kind of subtle innovation comes from a filmmaker who’s familiar with all tools at their disposal, and his adaptation of a sequel to The Shining, Doctor Sleep, is much anticipated for that reason.


Issa Lopez

Mexican director Issa Lopez made a name for herself in her native country by directing a series of comic films, but her debut horror film Tigers Are Not Afraid (trailer above) couldn’t have been a bigger departure from her earlier career. Filled with wonder and grit and meaningful insights into childhood, trauma, and the human soul in the harshest environment imaginable, the film has been racking up fans and awards long before its U.S. release on Shudder. Guillermo del Toro luckily saw the film and immediately signed up to produce her next movies, so this Master in the making is already well on her way.


Guillermo del Toro

(Photo by Kerry Hayes/©Universal Pictures/Courtesy Everett Collection)

Speaking of Guillermo del Toro, it’s difficult to overstate how much of a boon for horror this visionary director has been, but del Toro was pioneering new directions for horror years before it came back in fashion. From Cronos and The Devil’s Backbone all the way up to Pan’s Labyrinth and the slept-on Crimson Peak, del Toro’s body of work feels so ingrained in the culture that it’s almost easy to take him for granted. Not to mention that he’s spent a great deal of time championing the newer generation of horror directors like Issa Lopez, Scott Cooper, and André Øvredal, producing double the number of films he directs himself. He is, for all intents and purposes, the godfather of the new Masters of Horror.


Isa Mazzei & Daniel Goldhaber

Cam

(Photo by © Netflix)

This pair of collaborators burst on the scene with last year’s Netflix horror hit, Cam (pictured above), about a cam girl sex worker whose identity is stolen and used against her. In a novel twist, the film was also respectful of women, Johns, and sex workers, never resorting to staid clichés, signaling that the pair could inclusively expand the frontiers of horror. Announcements for their next project with Blumhouse have been thin, but the film is certainly driven by women, and they’ll also be wading into TV horror with a segment for Quibi’s new 50 States of Fear.


Pascal Laugier

Martyrs

(Photo by ©Weinstein Company/Courtesy Everett Collection)

Martyrs (pictured above) is not what many would call an easy film to watch. But Pascal Laugier’s most notorious feature is quite masterful. A story that opens like a revenge flick but closes with a hammer-to-the-nose of philosophical insights into perceived womanhood and spirituality, Martyrs follows in the New French Extremity footsteps of Claire Denis’ Trouble Every Day. After Martyrs, Laugier tried his hand at American horror with Jessica Biel starrer The Tall Man, but returned to his roots in 2018’s Incident in a Ghostland. Laugier shows that gore with a brain is on the menu for horror fans.


Andy Muschietti

Andy Muschietti

(Photo by Brooke Palmer/© Warner Bros. /Courtesy Everett Collection)

In 2013, Argentine director Andy Muschietti had an international hit on his hands with Mamá, about a young couple who take in their two young nieces but find that a malicious supernatural entity has decided they’re her next victims of a haunting. The film starred Jessica Chastain, setting up Muschietti’s desire to make genre but with actors of high esteem attached, which led to his re-envisioning Stephen King’s It in a two-movie release, vaunted for its playful but serious take on the story. Next up, Muschietti’s going the monster route with an adaptation of Hajime Isayama’s Attack on Titan, and is rumored to be directing DC’s The Flash.


Kiyoshi Kurosawa

Kiyoshi Kurosawa

(Photo by © Kimstim Films / courtesy Everett Collection)

Kiyoshi Kurosawa is not a newcomer by any means. He’s been working steadily in genre and outside of it since the 1980s, as a critic, commercial artist, and a creative filmmaker. In 2001, he released his most well-known cult film Pulse, but his recent return to genre suggests he’s not quite finished being a Master. In 2016, he released Creepy, a thrilling hardboiled mystery, which he then followed up with Before We Vanish, which is an alien invasion story equal parts horror and humor that opens with a risky, bloody bang.


Nicolas Pesce

Eyes of My Mother

(Photo by © Magnet Releasing /Courtesy Everett Collection)

The Eyes of My Mother (pictured above), Nicolas Pesce’s debut feature, bucks so many contemporary trends of horror, shot in black and white like a high-art film but with the creeping childishness of Tobe Hooper. He followed that up with a Cronenberg Crash-style film called Piercing that turns a sex-torture story into a screwball comedy of errors and power dynamics. Pesce’s films explore loneliness and connection with wry humor, and yet somehow it’s his visual style, evocative of classic films filled with texture and tactile pleasantness like every object has meaning and purpose, that make him a new Master.


Anna Biller

The Love Witch

(Photo by © Oscilloscope / courtesy Everett Collection)

Anna Biller’s version of horror feels akin to classic fairy tales. They are rife with artifice yet also completely honest. Focused on sex and sexuality but coy and childlike. There is the sense that the director is telling the story of the world as it is while simultaneously wishing the world to be different. Viva is more an off-kilter soapy drama, while her film The Love Witch (pictured above) more fully embodies horror. Rumor has it she’s been shopping another horror story based on the Bluebeard tale, but be patient for her next one: Biller’s obsessive about costuming, locations, and production design, and makes most everything herself, which is a time-consuming act but is ultimately the key to her success as a modern Master.


Agnieszka Smoczynska

The Lure

(Photo by ©Janus Films)

Half the fun of Agnieszka Smoczyńska’s debut feature The Lure (pictured above) is describing it for those who don’t know: a gritty, glittery Polish mermaid horror disco musical. The film was a time capsule of Cold War-era dancing clubs, mixed with classic fairy tales and contemporary rage-filled feminism. Music that’s as catchy as it is dark and an almost surreal, theatrical production design set The Lure apart, earning it an almost instant Criterion release. Her follow-up, Fugue, looks inward for a more cerebral melodrama of psychological terror, with the kind of innovative camera work and sensitivity that display Smoczynska’s ability to play with mind as well as body in her horror.


Peter Strickland

In Fabric

(Photo by © A24)

Peter Strickland digested decades of Italian gore and giallo films, then washed it down the exploitation work of Jess Franco and spit out such atmospheric insta-classics as Berberian Sound Studio and The Duke of Burgundy. His newest film In Fabric (poster above) had so much hype and magic behind it that A24 quickly snapped it up out of the festivals. Both eerie and ethereal, In Fabric tells the story of a murderous red dress; like a chilling version of The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, this thing will fit everyone but also kill them. And like his predecessors, Strickland squeezes every inch of terror out of sound design and trippy, mirrored effects, perfectly marrying the past with the present.


Ana Lily Amirpour

A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night

(Photo by ©Kino Lorber)

Ana Lily Amirpour’s low-budget indie hit A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night (pictured above) thrilled for its simple but fully realized black-and-white graphic novel aesthetics. It’s not every filmmaker whose first film creates some of the most memorable iconography in recent horror film history, but Amirpour’s vision of a young woman gliding on a skateboard with her veil flowing behind her struck a chord for women, a seeming statement about feminine violence and traditional values butting up against Western ideals. Her follow-up The Bad Batch was a sunny apocalyptic trip through the desert, but in the meantime she directed a beloved episode of the new Twilight Zone and has been attached to the remake of Cliffhanger.


Babak Anvari

Under the Shadow

(Photo by Kit Fraser / © Vertical Entertainment / courtesy Everett Collection)

Babak Anvari’s Under the Shadow (pictured above) broke new ground in folk horror and is a rare Certified Fresh at 99%. In it, he exploited the tale of jinn, those malevolent spirits of Islamic mythology, but grounded the story in the very real cultural conflict of the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s, as told through a belabored mother who’d much rather finish her medical degree than stay at home with the young daughter who acts almost like an anchor to a more traditional life. Vivid and tense, the film found an international audience, leading to his newest release, an American production called Wounds and a new television series titled North American Lake Monsters, where Anvari can further dig into local lore.


David F. Sandberg

David F. Sandberg

(Photo by Justin Lubin. ©Warner Bros.)

David F. Sandberg’s short “Lights Out” terrified audiences internationally with a simple light trick that harkened back to the early days of horror. That short, made for nothing and starring his charismatic wife Lotta Losten, was then developed into a feature starring Teresa Palmer. James Wan continued to help Sandberg develop his career, giving him a spot in The Conjuring franchise, directing Annabelle: Creation. Sandberg has temporarily waded into superheroes with the lighthearted Shazam!, but he’s stated he’s looking forward to coming back to horror real soon, hopefully utilizing the same creative low-budget ideas that gave him his big break.


James Wan

James Wan

(Photo by Michael Tackett/©Warner Bros. Pictures/courtesy Everett Collection)

Speaking of James Wan, no Masters of Horror list would be complete without the Aussie who harnessed the powers of surprise and low budgets to flip the entire industry on its head with the Saw and Insidious franchises, and then again with The Conjuring. He’s the pop filmmaker of our time, delivering the kind of popcorn fare that actually brings people to the theater, a rare feat. Like his Mexican counterpart Guillermo del Toro, Wan is also producing others’ work at a breakneck pace, passing the torch to his longtime collaborator Leigh Whannell, and Patrick Brice, Akela Cooper, and Michael Chaves.


Kevin Kölsch and Dennis Widmyer

Kolsch and Widmyer

(Photo by Kerry Hayes / © Paramount / courtesy Everett Collection)

Starry Eyes wasn’t Kevin Kölsch and Dennis Widmyer’s first feature, but it was the one that got them long applause at SXSW and a whole lot of horror cred with its black comic take on the entertainment industry, imagining the casting couch as a place to reap souls for Satan. Alex Essoe’s performance as a desperate starlet was one for the history books. At times gruesome and wacky, the film got them the gig remaking Pet Sematary and working on the Scream TV series.


Robert Eggers

The Lighthouse

(Photo by ©A24)

Robert Eggers may be known for The VVitch, but he might also be known for his obsessively detailed nature, which had him mastering settler’s English for the script and getting the period details correct down to the tiniest nib, likely from his time as a production and costume designer in theater and film. Like Kubrick before him, Eggers is intent on crafting worlds, and his newest film The Lighthouse (pictured above), though more horror-adjacent than his debut, is just as meticulous, digging again into hysteria and how isolation and harsh environments can unravel the mind.


Sophia Takal

Always Shine

(Photo by . © Oscilloscope / courtesy Everett Collection)

Sophia Takal’s trajectory into horror began with low-budget psychological romps through feminine hysteria, in both Green and then her more defined follow-up Always Shine (pictured above), which pitted two young actresses against one another in a remote Big Sur cabin. Her episode of Into the Dark marked an entry into the world of slashers, marrying the cerebral with the bloody physical, and her next film, a remake of the very first slasher, Black Christmas [disclosure: the author of this article is the co-writer of this film], will test that marriage and the viability of slashers in general in this day and age.


Don’t see our favorite horror filmmaker above? Let us know whose scares you’re loving right now in the comments. 


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(Photo by Lionsgate)

When Saw burst onto the scene in 2004, it introduced audiences to a monologuing killer named Jigsaw who enjoyed games, puppets on tricycles, and puzzle pieces made of skin. James Wan and Leigh Whannell’s (Insidious) $1.5 million budgeted film became an instant success, and it developed into an incredibly complicated franchise (the timeline is bonkers) that featured nonlinear timelines, bloody traps, and one crucial hacksaw.

What sets the Saw franchise apart from other horror mainstays is that it has the lowest Tomatometer average of any franchise with at least seven theatrically released entries. Its 26% Tomatometer average beats out other franchises like Friday the 13th (29.41%), Halloween (33.7%), and A Nightmare on Elm Street (54.5%) for the bottom spot. That said, the series has pulled in a massive $500 million domestically, and the average audience score sits at 60%, which puts it ahead of all the aforementioned major franchises and gives it the fourth highest audience score average behind the Evil Dead (80.75%), Hannibal Lecter (80%), and Night of the Living Dead (79.1%) franchises.

That may all change this weekend, though, because there’s a new Saw film opening, and it’s directed by Michael and Peter Spierig, the brotherly duo behind Predestination and Daybreakers. What sticks out in the trailer for Jigsaw is the amount of carnage actually related to saws, which looks like it’s been cranked up to 11, because the franchise in general hasn’t actually featured a lot of, well, sawing. In fact, after the first film, saws played a largely ancillary role in the series.

Nevertheless, we did a little research, and it turns out the style and amount of saw action can actually factor into how good a Saw movie might be. Here’s what we found:


Saw Films in Which Something Is Sawed Off Completely

(Photo by Lionsgate)

Tomatometer Average: 48%
Audience Score Average: 84%

Only the first Saw film features a body part being completely severed. A little odd for a series titled Saw that features 52 deaths, to be sure, but it’s probably fair to say there was no topping that first dismemberment, as far as narrative impact. The scene is arguably the high point of the series, and it serves as a reminder of the patience and planning that director James Wan and writer Leigh Whannell dedicated to the film. What sets Saw apart from the six sequels that followed is that Wan and Whannell, who didn’t direct any of the follow-ups, thought they were making a thriller in the vein of Seven. For better or worse, the marketing department latched onto the iconic torture element, and the rest is history.


Saw Films with Sawing/Sawing Attempts That Don’t Result in Death

Tomatometer Average:  32.3%
Audience Score Average: 64.6%

Saw, Saw V, and Saw VI feature instances of people surviving ordeals with saws. Saw (48%) and Saw VI (37%) also happen to have the highest Tomatometer scores of the series, while Saw VI is a weird outlier, because its 38% score isn’t actually that bad, compared to its peers. Sixth installments rarely do very well with critics, and as far as the horror genre is concerned, only 1986’s Jason Lives (52%) and 2013’s Curse of Chucky (82%) can boast better scores.


Saw Films Featuring the Hacksaw from the First Film

Tomatometer Average : 30.25%
Audience Score Average: 64%

The hacksaw from the first film gets a lot of mileage in the series. It pops up in Saw, Saw II, Saw III, and Saw 3D. Throughout the four films, it was used to saw off a foot, slit a throat, and be reunited with the guy who used the saw to cut off his own foot. The saw is proof of the series’ ability to intertwine its narrative and tie everything together via a very intricate timeline.


Saw Films in Which a Saw Kills Somebody

Tomatometer Average: 24.3%
Audience Score Average: 50.5%

Saws are surprisingly non-lethal in the Saw films. In fact, only three people are actually killed by saws.

  1. Xavier – Saw II – Throat cut by hacksaw from the first film
  2. Jigsaw – Saw III – Throat slit by a power saw
  3. Dina – Saw 3D – Gutted by a buzzsaw in 3D

There is some humor and poetry in Jigsaw’s death, but it arguably would have packed a bigger punch if it had come by way of one of his own traps.


Saw Films in Which a Saw Is Used on Jigsaw

Tomatometer Average: 22.5%
Audience Score Average: 64%

John Kramer, a.k.a. Jigsaw, was the glue that held the films together, and after his aforementioned murder (by saw) in the third installment, the audience was greeted by his autopsy in the early scenes of Saw IV. Sure, he’s already dead in the latter instance, but did the coroners use a saw on him? They sure did.


The Saw franchise is a perhaps surprisingly successful example of the prototypical contemporary horror franchise. Critics have hated it while audiences consider it Fresh, and the films have made an insane amount of money on tiny budgets.

Throughout it all, though, the presence of its titular weapon ties everything together rather nicely. The same hacksaw bookends the first seven installments, and if John Kramer were still around, he’d surely be pleased by the longevity of his purchase. We’ll just have to wait and see if it makes an appearance in Jigsaw.

Jigsaw is back in theaters this Friday, bringing back memories of the bygone era between 2004 and 2010 (the release years of the first and last Saw movies) when every horror movie released seemed to fall under the guise of ‘torture porn.’ They involved inflicting the most amount of pain in the slowest way possible, where dark fates could lead to death, or something worse: living on, literally broken in body and mind. Relive the pain with 24 best and worst (mostly worst) torture porn movies pieced and sorted by Tomatometer!

We here at RT went deep into the vault of horror franchises to tally up the victims of some of film and TV’s most deadly psycho killers. Take a peek at the results — if you dare!

 


Norman Bates  – Psycho (1960) 96%

Norman-Bates

Haunting Grounds: Bates Motel
Estimated Body Count: 20
Has there ever been a cinematic slasher more pitiable than Norman Bates? The poor guy is practically at war with himself, and his mom nags him from beyond the grave. Heck, every time he makes friends, they seem to end up dead. If Psycho exerted a profound influence on the slasher genre (and onscreen violence in general), it wasn’t because Norman was a particularly prolific killer. Alfred Hitchcock’s original (and the sequels) depicted a man in the clutches of inner torment and madness that was so gripping and scary that it didn’t need buckets of blood (or, in one memorable case, chocolate syrup) to be deeply unsettling.  Nine deaths are attributed to Norman Bates (Freddie Highmore) on the five-season AMC prequel TV series Bates Motel. But, really, who can say for sure?

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THE CREEPER – Jeepers Creepers (2001) 46%

creeper

Haunting Grounds: The Jeepers Creepers series
Estimated Body Count: 20
When Harry Warren and Johnny Mercer wrote “Jeepers Creepers” in the late 1930s, they surely never guessed their snappy little pop ditty would go on to provide the theme song for a murderous winged creature who possesses a bee- and dog-like ability to smell fear, and who can regenerate body parts by ingesting those of his victims. And that’s not all — the Creeper can also overcome overwhelmingly negative reviews, too! Although critics kept 2001’s Jeepers Creepers from a Fresh certification, the Creeper was back just two years later with a sequel, and there was even talk of a third installment. Not bad for a bad guy who’s limited to a single 23-day feeding frenzy every 23 years, right?

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THE THING – The Thing (1982) 82%

The-Thing

Haunting Grounds: The Thing from Another World, The Thing, The Thing
Estimated Body Count: 20
Human beings have long wondered what otherworldy monstrosities might be lurking out in the far reaches of space, which helps to explain the enduring appeal of John W. Campbell’s 1938 short story, Who Goes There? It’s the tale of an Antarctic research team that unwittingly rescues a malevolent alien from an icy grave. The creature repays the favor by forcibly (and messily) assimilating every living being within reach, including 20 unlucky scientists and a handful of dogs. Campbell’s monster — referred to as the Thing — has provided rich fodder for filmmakers over the decades, inspiring 1951’s The Thing from Another World, John Carpenter’s 1982 cult classic The Thing, and, most recently, the 2011 prequel/reboot of the same name.

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JAWS – Jaws (1975) 98%

Jaws

Haunting Grounds: The Jaws series
Estimated Body Count: ~21, if you count the whale in Jaws 2
Most of the slashers on our list are bona fide film icons, but few of them can boast of having changed the entire industry the way Peter Benchley’s great white shark did: Before Jaws‘ 1975 debut, studios actually held their big films out of the summer market, believing the vacation months to be a commercial graveyard. Almost $500 million (and lots of bloody ocean water) later, a franchise was born — and although the third and fourth installments aren’t good for much besides unintentional humor, the original remains a certified classic with a 98 percent Tomatometer rating. Granted, the kill count here takes into consideration the havoc wreaked by multiple great whites over the course of the franchise, but it merely illustrates what Benchley already knew: the ocean is scary enough even without a gigantic bloodthirsty shark chasing you around, so tossing one in the mix just ups the ante.

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LEATHERFACE – The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974) 89%

Leatherface

Haunting Grounds: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre series
Estimated Body Count: 30
The twisted true-life tale of grave robber Ed Gein has inspired many notable cinematic grotesques, from Norman Bates in Psycho to Buffalo Bill in The Silence of the Lambs. However, Tobe Hooper may have done the most to immortalize Gein in the annals of perverse pop culture by emphasizing his habit of making clothing out of human flesh. The Texas Chain Saw Massacre introduced Leatherface, a developmentally disabled fellow under the control of his cannibalistic family. Though he started out as a pretty timid guy who was as afraid of visitors as they were of him, Leatherface came out of his shell in the sequels and reboots, making up for lost time in liberally employing his Poulan 306A.

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PINHEAD – Hellraiser (1987) 72%

PinheadHaunting Grounds: The Hellraiser series
Estimated Body Count: 35
By the late 1980s, the slasher genre was starting to feel a little stale — and then along came Pinhead, the sadomasochistic leader of the extradimensional pack of hooligans known as the Cenobites. The spike-headed hook fetishist wasn’t featured heavily in 1987’s Hellraiser, but Pinhead’s combination of creepy appearance, selective taste for victims, and clear fondness for gruesome torture stole the movie; throughout the eight-film series (four of which were released straight to DVD), Pinhead has remained the only constant, and for good reason: although his body count may be relatively low, no one else can match his prowess with a sharp, well-placed hook.

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CHUCKY – Child's Play (1988) 71%

ChuckyHaunting Grounds: The Child’s Play series
Estimated Body Count: ~38
Chucky may have devolved into a pint-sized Tony Clifton at this point, but the original Child’s Play was a superior genre piece — creepy, suspenseful, and blessed with an insidious sense of humor. Child’s Play riffed on the idea of innocence gone horribly wrong, with a quasi-Cabbage Patch Kid embodied by a vicious serial killer thanks to a voodoo ritual. Subsequent sequels — the most recent of which, Curse of Chucky, just recently made its way onto home video — have delivered more camp than scares, but Chucky’s left a trail of more than 35 corpses in his wake — and probably didn’t enamor himself to Teddy Ruxpin.

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FREDDY KRUEGER – A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) 95%

Freddy-KruegerHaunting Grounds: The Nightmare on Elm Street series
Estimated Body Count: ~39
Arguably the most recognizable movie monster of the 1980s, Freddy Krueger may not be able to compete with other horror icons when it comes to killing in bulk. But the dermatologically-challenged Elm Street resident certainly wins points for style; in addition to his expert use of claw-tipped leather gloves, Freddy is adept at shape-shifting, strangulation, and generating geysers of blood from the bodies of future heartthrobs. Even accounting for the various forms Freddy has taken over the years in his efforts to turn the sweetest dreams dark and bloody, we’ve got his kill count somewhere in the vicinity of 39. That might be fewer than one might expect, but Mr. Krueger is an artiste who chooses his victims very specifically.

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FATE – Final Destination (2000) 35%

Final-Destination-2Haunting Grounds: The Final Destination series
Estimated Body Count: 39
Remember the old margarine commercials that said you can’t fool Mother Nature? Well, according to the Final Destination series, you can’t cheat Fate, either. It’s often said that revenge is a dish best served cold — but for the unseen hand of Fate, it tastes even better when garnished with a series of incredibly brutal (and, it must be said, very morbidly entertaining) booby traps. The series’ unseen antagonist has dispatched 39 victims, using everything from the mundane (death by falling brick) to the cleverly rewind-worthy (shower cord strangulation, ladder through the eye, death by falling cherry picker). By the time we surpassed The Final Destination and got Final Destination 5, the series was clearly aware of its silly appeal, and each creatively choreographed death was equally as hilarious as it was cringeworthy.

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GHOSTFACE – Scream (1996) 79%

GhostfaceHaunting Grounds: The Scream franchise, Scream (TV series)
Estimated Body Count: 49
One of the rare slasher antagonists who’s a killer by committee, the Scream series’ Ghostface is played by a revolving door of mask-donning, knife-wielding psychopaths. Their motives are different (peer pressure, revenge, etc.), but the results are the same, no matter who wears the Edward Munch-inspired getup: teenagers will turn up dead, following the conventions of horror movies. And, as with other horror franchises, the body count increases with each sequel. Adding to the mayhem was the first season of MTV’s Scream, which aired this summer. All in all, this council of killers is responsible for at least 49 slayings.

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LEPRECHAUN – Leprechaun (1993) 27%

LeprechaunHaunting Grounds: The Leprechaun series
Estimated Body Count: 50
The Leprechaun series is the embodiment of the finest that Irish culture and letters has to offer, easily surpassing the works of James Joyce and Oscar Wilde. The titular antihero is murderously committed to acquiring a pot o’ gold, an undertaking that prompts travel to such exotic locales as Las Vegas, Compton, and outer space. Despite his diminutive stature, the Leprechaun’s super-sharp claws and teeth have helped him tally 50 onscreen fatalities, including a very young Jennifer Aniston, who made her big screen debut in the first film.

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JIGSAW – Saw (2004) 51%

JigsawHaunting Grounds: The Saw series
Estimated Body Count: 60
John Kramer was first christened “Jigsaw” by detectives who discovered the serial killer’s calling card was a puzzle piece-shaped hunk of flesh carved from the corpses of his victims. The name stuck as the cops closed in on Kramer and realized his elaborate, irony-laden traps were designed to punish those he deemed guilty of criminal acts or taking life for granted (he must have been a fan of Se7en). More characters and plot twists (Jigsaw doesn’t work alone! Something about cancer!) were introduced as the series wore on, and Saw evolved into a labyrinthine annual soap opera drenched in blood and agony. A Grand Guignol for our times.

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HANNIBAL LECTER – The Silence of the Lambs (1991) 96%

Haniibal-Lecter

Haunting Grounds: Manhunter, The Silence of the Lambs, Red Dragon, Hannibal, Hannibal Rising, Hannibal (TV)
Estimated Body Count: 98
Before 1991, you may not have even known what fava beans were — but after Anthony Hopkins’ first appearance as Doctor Hannibal “The Cannibal” Lecter in The Silence of the Lambs, nobody ever thought of them the same way again. Like Jason Voorhees, Lecter doesn’t appear in much of the famous reboot — he’s only in a little over 15 minutes of Lambs — but it was the first time we actually witnessed the good doctor rack up a few kills on screen (both Manhunter and its remake Red Dragon only imply Lecter’s murdered some folks), and audiences had a clear, um, appetite for the flesh-craving serial killer’s brand of mayhem: he’s gone on to appear in a number of other books and movies. Although we just saw the end of Hannibal‘s three-season run on NBC, series creator Bryan Fuller insists we haven’t seen the last of Lecter just yet.

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MICHAEL MYERS – Halloween (1978) 96%

Michael-Meyers
Haunting Grounds: The Halloween series, minus Season of the Witch
Estimated Body Count: ~107
The best-known escapee of Smith’s Grove Sanitarium, Michael Myers has never been a big fan of babysitters, nor is he particularly fleet of foot. He digs Blue Oyster Cult, and makes special use of Star Trek paraphernalia and kitchen cutlery. Since the release of John Carpenter’s landmark Halloween, Myers’ legend has been told in a number of sequels, and if his reasons for killing are obscure, he’s still coldly efficient at the task; he’s racked up a whopping 100-plus notches on his belt.

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THE INVISIBLE MAN – The Invisible Man (1933) 94%

InvisibleManBodyCount
Haunting Grounds: The Invisible Man (1933)
Estimated Body Count: 123
We were shocked (shocked!) to discover that killers with high body counts could even be found in Old Hollywood fare. Based on the H.G. Wells 1897 novel, James Whale’s pre-code horror film featured Claude Rains (Casablanca) in his American film debut as the titular villain, also known as Dr. Jack Griffin. Hiding away in a snowy village, Griffin experiments on himself while working on a drug called “monocane,” which he believes is the secret to invisibility. Although he does succeed in turning himself invisible, he also becomes a crazed murderer. Killing those who get in his way, and a train full of people just for kicks, Griffin eventually causes the death of 123 people – including himself.

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JASON VOORHEES – Friday the 13th (1980) 63%

HalloweenHaunting Grounds: The Friday the 13th series
Estimated Body Count: 146
Rocking facial protection that would do Jacques Plante proud, Jason Voorhees terrorized Camp Crystal Lake with cold precision (and an ability to cheat death that Rasputin would envy) in Friday the 13th. Occasionally, he breaks out of the bucolic confines of the countryside to wreak havoc in the big city (Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan), Hades (Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday), and the future (Jason X). According to our research, Jason has put a whopping 146 unfortunate souls on ice. Pretty impressive for a cat who drowned in 1958.

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En español: Read this article in Spanish at Tomatazos.com.

This week’s Ketchup brings you another ten headlines from the world of film development news (those stories about what movies Hollywood is working on for you next). Included in the mix this time around are stories about such titles as Frankenstein, Pokemon, Wonder Woman, and the eighth movie in the Saw franchise.


This Week’s Top Story

HOLLYWOOD HUNTING FOR POKEMON GO RIGHTS

This week’s biggest story in film development news is actually a continuation of something that started in April. At that time, the idea of Legendary Entertainment getting close to acquiring the live-action Pokemon rights could have been interpreted as Legendary looking for their next video game adaptation following the (presumed) success of WarcraftWarcraft had a huge opening in China, and has earned $430 million globally (enough for Warcraft to make in the top 10 for the year, thus far), but it was also a flop critically, and in the USA. However, one week sure can change things. The “augmented reality” game Pokemon Go launched just nine days ago (7/6/16), but within a week, the game had almost as many daily active users as Twitter (!). Nintendo’s stock price subsequently jumped up 25%, (seemingly), instantly increasing the company’s value by an additional $9 billion. So, Hollywood is very much now interested in a live action Pokemon reboot, and Legendary Pictures is looking like they were ahead of the curve, considering that their talks started three months before Pokemon Go even launched. The other two studios that had been vying for the Pokemon rights were Warner Bros and Sony Pictures, but it looks like Legendary is very close to sealing the deal. It’s still unclear what approach the live-action Pokemon remake might take, but loosely, there seem like two main options: Legendary could stick closely to the traditional Pokemon lore, or they could go with a direct adaptation of Pokemon Go, perhaps following people hunting for Pokemon in the real world. If the rumors are true, the screenwriter who might have the job of figuring it out is Max Landis (American Ultra, Victor Frankenstein), whose only Fresh Tomatometer score thus far was for Chronicle.


Fresh Developments This Week

1. OSCAR ISAAC JOINS SPIELBERG’S THE KIDNAPPING OF EDGARDO MONTARA

Most of the attention on future Steven Spielberg movies this year has been on his adaptation of Ready Player One. However, the prolific director is rarely working on just “one movie” at any given time. Right now, another impending project is an adaptation of the bestselling non-fiction book The Kidnapping of Edgardo Mortara by David Kertzer, which relays the true story of a Jewish child (born in Italy) who was seized by the Catholic Church in the mid-19th century, then converted to Catholicism and went on to become a priest. The central figure on the church side of the controversy will be Pope Pius IX, who will be played by Mark Rylance, marking his fourth Spielberg film in a row (after Bridge of Spies, The BFG, and Ready Player One). It is as yet unknown what role Oscar Isaac (who is now in talks) will be playing, but since some sources have pointed to him as “the lead,” the obvious answer would be Edgardo Mortara himself. The Kidnapping of Edgardo Mortara is expected to start filming in early 2017 — Ready Player One is scheduled for release on March 30, 2018, so the earliest possible release window for TKoEM is probably late 2018, AKA “awards season.”


2. JAVIER BARDEM TO BE RESURRECTED AS UNIVERSAL’S FRANKENSTEIN (‘S MONSTER)

We’ve known for a few years now that Universal Pictures wants to build a new “cinematic universe” around reboots of their Universal Monsters. The first of these will be another reboot of The Mummy, set in the present day (to be released next summer, on June 9, 2017); its titular monster will be female this time, played by Kingsman: The Secret Service costar Sofia Boutella, and this week, the Internet was deluged by nearly 100 images of Boutella in “Mummy” costumes from filming on location. The non-Mummy star of that movie will be Tom Cruise, and recent months have brought news of other A-list stars who will costar. Russell Crowe will play a character similar to Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and Johnny Depp will star in The Invisible Man in early 2018. As noted in this article, Universal Pictures seems to be focusing on casting actors in their 50s. Javier Bardem (Skyfall, No Country for Old Men) isn’t quite 50 yet, but he’s close (his 50th birthday will be on March 1st, 2019), and this week we learned that he is now in talks with Universal Pictures to star in their new monster movies as Frankenstein. Specifically, Bardem is not up for the role Frankenstein himself, but rather the monster that Dr. Victor Frankenstein creates. There have been rumors that Angelina Jolie will star in a Bride of Frankenstein movie, and this news fits right in with that, because Bardem is not expected to debut in a Frankenstein movie, but one of the earlier UMCU (Universal Monsters Cinematic Universe) movies. The Mummy is nearly done filming, so it probably won’t be that film, but the next possibility might be The Invisible Man (TBA 2018). Russell Crowe’s Jekyll/Hyde-like character is also expected to appear in other UCMU movies before receiving his own feature.


3. BALLET STAR MISTY COPELAND TO DANCE IN DISNEY’S THE NUTCRACKER AND THE FOUR REALMS

One of the many films that Walt Disney Pictures is adapting into live action from their classic animated filmography actually comes from one part of a film, the 1940 classic Fantasia. Specifically, we’re talking about The Nutcracker Suite, which was based on the ballet with music written by Pyotr Tchaikovsky. Disney’s movie will be called The Nutcracker and the Four Realms, and it will be based on both Tchaikovsky’s ballet as well as the 1816 fairy tale story by E.T.A. Hoffmann called  The Nutcracker and the Mouse King, which the ballet was itself based upon. So, since Disney’s new Nutcracker movie is ultimately based on a ballet, this week’s news probably should have been a complete no-brainer. Ballet dancer Misty Copeland took to her Instagram account this week to post an image of the script by Ashleigh Powell (who will be making her feature film debut with The Nutcracker and the Four Realms), confirming that she will star in the adaptation. Copeland is the first cast member we have heard about, but she won’t be the last, as the various versions of The Nutcracker have a lot of characters, including the Nutcracker himself, the Mouse King (and Queen), the Sugar Plum Fairy, and of course, the large family at the center of the entire story. This magical adventure will be directed by Lasse Hallstrom, whose lengthy filmography includes What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, Chocolate, The Cider House Rules, and My Life as a Dog. There is no release date officially set for The Nutcracker and the Four Realms, but given the Christmas theme, there is a very, very strong chance that it is the Untitled Disney Fairy Tale (Live Action) currently on their schedule for November 2, 2018.


4. ZENDAYA TO TRAPEZE SWING OVER HUGH JACKMAN IN THE GREATEST SHOWMAN ON EARTH

One of the most ambitious non-superhero movies that Hugh Jackman has been attached to star in for several years now (since 2009) is 20th Century Fox’s The Greatest Showman on Earth. As the title suggests, this film (scheduled for 12/25/17) will be a biographical musical drama about the life of 19th century circus entrepreneur P.T. Barnum, who, of course, will be played by Jackman (who’s also producing). In recent weeks, we’ve heard about the casting of both Zac Efron (as Barnum’s “right hand man”), and Michelle Williams (as Barnum’s romantic interest). This week, we learned that Fox is hoping to attract a young audience with the news that former Disney star Zendaya is now in talks to play a trapeze artist in Barnum’s circus. The Greatest Showman on Earth will be the feature film directorial debut of Michael Gracey (who is working on an adaptation of the manga/video game Naruto), working from a script by Michael Arndt (Toy Story 3; cowriter of Star Wars: The Force Awakens). 20th Century Fox has scheduled The Greatest Showman on Earth for December 25th, by which point the world will probably be much more familiar with Zendaya, due to her reportedly major role in Marvel’s Spider-Man: Homecoming (July 7, 2017).


5. DISNEY DEVELOPING ANOTHER PROJECT WITH FINDING DORY STAR ELLEN DEGENERES

One can argue lots of other factors at play here, but the facts are plain: Finding Dory is Pixar’s top box office earner to date, and Finding Nemo was no slouch either, now at #4 out of 17 films. One arguable factor in both films was the voice talent of Ellen DeGeneres, without whom Dory wouldn’t really be the Dory that audiences (and critics) have come to love. Knowing a good thing when they have it, Walt Disney Pictures is striving to continue working with Ellen DeGeneres on (at least) one future project, namely an adaptation of the children’s book Castle Hangnail, by author Ursula Vernon, the creator of the Dragonbreath series. The book will be adapted by Bill Kunstler, who is best known for his work as a writer and producer on TV shows like Mom, The Crazy Ones, The War at Home, and Accidentally on PurposeCastle Hangnail is about a 12-year-old girl who shows up at the title location hoping to fill a vacancy as a “wicked witch,” and to do so, she must accomplish a series of tasks. Ellen DeGeneres is producing Castle Hangnail, and is likely to star in the film, but which character she would play is unknown.


6. CHIWETEL EJIOFOR TO PLAY ST. PETER IN MARY MAGDALENE

The story of Jesus Christ is often called “the greatest story ever told” for a reason, and Hollywood seems intent on retelling it again and again; this year alone, we’ve already had two movies about Him — Last Days in the Desert (with Ewan McGregor as Jesus) and Risen (with Cliff Curtis as “Yeshua”, AKA Jesus) — and they keep coming. The next project to tackle the tale will focus on His companion, Mary Magdalene. We’ve known for a while now that Rooney Mara (Carol, The Social Network) will star in the film as the title character, with Joaquin Phoenix taking on the role of Christ. This week, we learned that Chiwetel Ejiofor (12 Years a Slave) is now in talks to play St. Peter, one of Christ’s 12 apostles. In many films about Jesus Christ, not all of the apostles receive the same amount of attention in the story, but St. Peter (AKA “The Rock”) is usually one of the most central figures. Director Garth Davis, whose debut film is this year’s Lion, expects to start filming Mary Magdalene this summer for the Weinstein Company, who are expecting to release Mary Magdalene sometime in 2017 (possibly around Easter).


7. COLIN FARRELL TO STAR IN REMAKE OF CLINT EASTWOOD’S THE BEGUILED

Today’s release of the remake of Ghostbusters has brought into the spotlight the social debate over remakes, and whether some older films should or shouldn’t ever be remade, rebooted, regurgitated, etc. One thing to remember is that Hollywood’s been doing it since the “silent era,” and some of our most beloved movies (like say, The Wizard of Oz, The Thing, Scarface, The Magnificent Seven, and The Ten Commandments) were themselves remakes of earlier films. Some pundits make the argument that the best candidates for remakes are films that were either flawed in some way, or that technology has improved to tell certain stories more effectively, or in some cases, that the original is just so obscure or forgotten that most wouldn’t even recognize a remake of it. Option #3 feels the most relevant to this week’s news, because few moviegoers have likely even heard of the 1971 film The Beguiled, starring Clint Eastwood as a wounded Union soldier during the Civil War. Director Sofia Coppola (Lost in Translation, Marie Antoinette) apparently has, however, because she has written and will direct a remake of The Beguiled. Colin Farrell is now in talks to star as the soldier, who takes refuge at an all-girls boarding school and “cons his way into several lonely women’s hearts.” Farrell is joining a mostly female cast which already includes Nicole Kidman, Kirsten Dunst, and Elle Fanning. There is no filming start date for The Beguiled yet, but if financing can be found, there’s a good chance it will be Sofia Coppola’s next film (after departing the live action non-Disney remake of The Little Mermaid).


Rotten IdeaS of The Week

2. THE WRITERS OF WONDER WOMAN… ARE ALL MEN?

When Warner Bros and DC Comics were looking for a director for next summer’s Wonder Woman (6/2/17), it was clear they were looking for a female director. The job ultimately went to Monster director Patty Jenkins, after Breaking Bad producer/director Michelle MacLaren worked on it for a while, but eventually dropped out. Arguments can be made about whether gender identity plays a role in filmmaking, but WB’s efforts to cast a female director suggests they were at least attempting to match it up. That’s why it’s particularly confusing and/or confounding to learn that the official screenwriter credits are for “a screenplay by Allan Heinberg and Geoff Johns, story by Zack Snyder & Allan Heinberg.” In other words, Wonder Woman was written entirely by men. Of course, Wonder Woman was created by a man, and a rather controversial male writer at that, about whom much as been written. That was, however, also in 1941, and one might assume that 75 years later, things might be different. This would also be a good time to note that we are aware of the super relevant (but probably coincidental) timing of this story, which we’re reporting to you on the day that the reboot of Ghostbusters is being released (and all of the gender politics that come with it, from both sides). We’ll just point you to some other articles about this issue, published by The Verge, The Mary Sue, and Romper. What do you think? Should the first ever live action movie about the original female super hero icon have been written by at least one woman?


1. SOME “ROTTEN” FRANCHISES JUST DON’T KNOW WHEN TO DIE: SAW #8 COMING IN 2017

People like familiar franchises that provide sequels with familiar expectations; we get that. But some franchises fail to transcend their very niche audiences and be embraced, at least on some level. One such franchise is the “torture porn” extravaganza known as the Saw franchise, which critically peaked at 48 percent with the first movie (still Rotten) and whose most recent installment, Saw: The Final Chapter, failed to reach double digits on the Tomatometer. That said, even if it did seem like the Saw franchise was pretty much over, another factor in play was that Lionsgate needed lots and lots of franchises and ongoing ventures after The Hunger Games (and other YA adaptations) came to an end. With all that in mind, Lionsgate is preparing to produce an 8th Saw movie, which they have scheduled for release next year on October 27, 2017 (just before Halloween, of course), and they’ve hired the creative writer/director team of the Spierig Brothers (Peter and Michael) to do it. The Spierig Brothers bring a certain level of fan anticipation to the Saw franchise, as their two most recent films (Daybreakers and Predestination) both received Fresh Tomatometer scores.  So, it’s sort of a tricky thing. On one hand, we have directors who have given us two pretty great genre films recently; on the other, it’s still the Saw franchise we’re talking about here. Verdict: This is the Rotten Idea of the Week.

Why did they make God’s Not Dead 2? The divine hand of the free market christened the original God’s Not Dead with a $60 million box office tally, and against its $2 million budget, that makes it one of the most profitable movies ever in these United States. So, sweet Jesus, of course they would make a sequel! And that inspires this week’s gallery: the 24 most profitable low-budget (under $5 million) movies ever (in America)!

A nanny is shocked to learn that her new employers’ son is actually a living doll in this Friday’s The Boy, inspiring this week’s 24 Frames gallery of the creepiest dolls from film and TV history!

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Ep. 071 – New Movies & TV plus Jake Gyllenhaal & Nicole Kidman
This week the team kicks off the show with reviews for ‘Nightcrawler’ and Grae shares and interview with star Jake Gyllenhaal. Then they cover ‘Before I Go to Sleep,’ and Grae shares an interview with star Nicole Kidman. The new movie report wraps up with ‘Horns’ and the ‘Saw’ 10th anniversary re-release. Ryan talks about new home video releases ‘Deliver Us From Evil,’ and ‘Begin Again,’ and Sarah leads a quick discussion on ‘The Walking Dead’ and ‘Gotham.’ The last half of the show features an extended interview with Des Doyle, Ryan Patrick McGuffey, Jimmy Nguyen, Jason Rose, the writer/director and producers of the documentary ‘Showrunners.’

This week at the movies, we’ve got a crime reporter (Nightcrawler, starring Jake Gyllenhaal and Rene Russo), a troubled amnesiac (Before I Go to Sleep, starring Nicole Kidman and Colin Firth), and a sadistic killer (the 10th anniversary rerelease of Saw, starring Cary Elwes and Danny Glover). What do the critics have to say?. What do the critics have to say?


Nightcrawler

95%

A creepy, tense thriller about a nocturnal obsessive or a satire of the 24-hour news cycle? Critics say Nightcrawler is a terrific blend of both, with a live-wire performance from Jake Gyllenhaal and an evocative, sinister sense of place. Gyllenhaal stars as Lou Bloom, a freelance TV journalist who sells lurid crime footage to a local station. But as his career progresses, and his scoops become ever more explosive, Bloom’s shaky ethics threaten to overwhelm him. The pundits say the Certified Fresh Nightcrawler is so taut, atmospheric, and well-acted, you might not even notice the leaps in narrative logic.



Before I Go to Sleep

37%

Before I Go to Sleep boasts an intriguing premise, a top-notch cast, and slick, sleek production values. So how could it miss? The answer, say critics, is that the film’s fine performances are in service to a plot that starts strong but strains credulity as it goes along. Nicole Kidman stars as a woman who wakes up every day with no memory of her past — the tragic result of an accident. But when she makes a shocking discovery, our heroine delves into the secrets of her past while trying to determine who she can trust. The pundits say Before I Go to Sleep often gets by on chilly atmosphere and the strength of Kidman’s performance, but it doesn’t quite achieve the chilly heights it’s aiming for.



Saw

51%

Ten years ago, before the term “torture porn” had even been invented, Saw hit theaters awash in Sundance buzz and comparisons to Se7en. The critics were split: some found it to be brutal and clever, while others simply found it depraved. Half a dozen sequels followed, but none could approach the original Saw in terms of novelty or (moderate) critical acclaim. If you’ve ever wanted to enter the twisted world of diabolical killer Jigsaw in a darkened roomful of screaming strangers, now’s your chance: Saw is hitting theaters to celebrate its 10th anniversary.

What’s Fresh on TV:


Critics are still mixed on Gotham‘s overall tone, but most found “The Spirit of the Goat” (67 percent) to be a step in the right direction, thanks in part to much-needed character details about Oswald Cobblepot and Detective Bullock.


Creepy atmosphere, high-stakes action, and splendid special effects combine with a welcome touch of humor to overcome narrative flaws and present a version of Constantine (69 percent) that’s close to his comics counterpart.

Also opening this week in limited release:

  • Revenge of the Mekons, a rockumentary about the cultishly adored British indie band, is at 100 percent.
  • Jean-Luc Godard‘s Goodbye to Language 3D, an atmospheric meditation on the nature of communication, is at 89 percent.
  • The Great Invisible, a documentary about the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico, is at 84 percent.
  • Point and Shoot, a documentary about a Baltimore man whose five-year tour of the Middle East included a stint in the Libyan Revolution, is at 71 percent.
  • ABCs of Death 2, a 26-chapter anthology horror film that takes another crack at alphabetical terror, is at 68 percent.
  • Private Peaceful, a period drama about two brothers whose loyalties are tested amidst the fog of World War I, is at 65 percent.
  • Magical Universe, a documentary about an eccentric octogenarian outsider artist, is at 60 percent.
  • Horns, starring Daniel Radcliffe and Juno Temple in a fantasy thriller about a man who’s been accused of a crime and finds horns with astonishing powers growing out of his head, is at 48 percent.
  • Missionary, a thriller about a woman who tries to break off her extramarital affair with a missionionary when she reunites with her estranged husband, is at 38 percent.
  • Hit By Lightning, starring Jon Cryer and Will Sasso in a comedy about a guy who meets the perfect woman only to discover she wants to kill her husband, is at 14 percent.

This week on home video, we’ve got Seth Rogen and Zac Efron facing off in a comedy, Guy Pearce and Robert Pattinson facing off in a post-apocalyptic road film, and Brenton Thwaites and Laurence Fishburne facing off in a sci-fi thriller. Then we’ve got the requisite smaller releases, a ton of recent TV seasons (and one complete collection of a popular sitcom), and three big horror franchise sets. Read on for details:



Neighbors

73%

With hit projects both as director (Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Get Him to the Greek) and writer (the two recent Muppets movies) under his belt, it might be surprising to learn that Nicholas Stoller’s most successful film to date was Neighbors, a raunchy comedy that opened one week after The Amazing Spider-Man 2 and one week before Godzilla. Pitting Seth Rogen against Zac Efron, Neighbors follows a young couple with a newborn baby who find themselves at odds with their new neighbors when a fraternity moves in next door. Most critics found the comedy surprisingly sturdy, if a bit vulgar, and praised its game cast, which included supporting turns from Rose Byrne, Dave Franco, and Christopher Mintz-Plasse. Special features on the disc include the requisite gag reel and deleted scenes, alongside a handful of making-of featurettes.



The Rover

66%

Australian director David Michod’s 2010 film Animal Kingdom was a powerhouse debut, so it wasn’t unreasonable to set expectations high for his follow-up, The Rover, which opened in limited release back in June. While the latter wasn’t quite the critical darling its predecessor was, it still managed to impress critics to the tune of 66 percent on the Tomatometer. Utilizing the Australian landscape as a post-apocalyptic backdrop, The Rover stars Guy Pearce as Eric, a lone drifter who gets carjacked by a gang of combative thieves. In search of leads, Eric runs into Rey (Robert Pattinson), the brother of one of the thieves, and the pair set out across the desolate landscape to locate Eric’s car, encountering trouble along the way. Moody and violent, The Rover struck most critics as a stylish exercise in ambiguity, with a relatively thin story held aloft almost entirely by its stars’ compelling performances. Only one bonus feature comes with the disc, and it’s a 45-minute making-of doc.



The Signal

61%

Films that rely on sustained tension in service of a big final payoff are difficult to craft; sometimes, they’re more confusing than they need to be, and sometimes the anticipated twist is underwhelming. Unfortunately, there were enough critics who found both to be true for The Signal that the film mustered only a mediocre 55 percent on the Tomatometer. The story revolves around a trio of MIT students (Brenton Thwaites, Olivia Cooke, Beau Knapp) driving across the Southwest whose road trip takes a detour when they begin to receive taunting messages from an MIT hacker. Before they are able to confront their nemesis, however, they black out and find themselves trapped in a mysterious research facility, unable to explain what happened. Critics found The Signal ambitious and initially intriguing, but felt it could have used a lot more narrative finesse to deliver its climactic reveals. The film comes with a feature commentary with the director and writers, some deleted, extended, and alternate scenes, and a behind-the-scenes doc.

Also available this week:

  • Lukas Moodysson’s Certified Fresh Swedish import We Are the Best! (97 percent), about a trio of punk-rockin’ teenage girls growing up in 1980s Stockholm.
  • Claude Lanzmann’s documentary The Last of the Unjust (97 percent), which utilizes archived interviews from 1975 to tell the story of Benjamin Murmelstein, who helped thousands of Jews escape capture by the Nazis.
  • Pawel Pawlikowski’s Certified Fresh Ida (95 percent), about a nun who discovers a dark family secret just before she plans to take her vows.
  • The Calling (50 percent), starring Susan Sarandon and Topher Grace in a thriller about a detective in a small Canadian town tracking down a serial killer with a bizarre trademark.
  • Very Good Girls (17 percent), starring Dakota Fanning and Elizabeth Olsen in a coming-of-age film about a pair of graduating high schoolers who fall for the same boy.
  • Season three of the Emmy-winning drama Scandal (100 percent), starring Kerry Washington as a high-powered fixer.
  • Season two of Nashville (100 percent), starring Hayden Panettiere and Connie Britton as dueling Country music divas.
  • Season two of Defiance (100 percent), SyFy’s action-drama set on Earth in the distant future.
  • The Certified Fresh first season of Brooklyn Nine-Nine (83 percent), starring Andy Samberg and Andre Braugher in a “workplace” comedy set in a police station.
  • The fifth season of Emmy darling Modern Family (83 percent) is out on DVD.
  • Season one of sci-fi series The 100 (72 percent) is available on DVD and Blu-ray.
  • The third season of Comedy Central’s sketch comedy show Key & Peele is available on DVD.
  • We’ve got two new releases from the Criterion Collection this week: Roman Polanski’s 1971 adaptation of MacBeth (84 percent), and Jack Clayton’s 1961 supernatural thriller The Innocents, starring Deborah Kerr in an adaptation of Henry James’s Turn of the Screw.
  • And lastly on this week’s list, we’ve got three horror franchise sets on Blu-ray going on sale. First up is Halloween: The Complete Collection on Blu-ray, which includes all ten films in the series, a collectible booklet, and tons of special features.
  • Next, there’s Saw: The Complete Collection. There isn’t a whole lot of information available on the special features, but the set is only three discs, so there may not be any. That said, it’s selling for $25, which is a great price for seven movies.
  • And last but not least, we have The Exorcist: Complete Anthology. Again, not much info on the bonus features, and sure, the sequels weren’t all that great, but if you’re a collector, this is another good deal at just under $30.

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