(Photo by Lions Gate/courtesy Everett Collection)

The 80 Best 2000s Horror Movies

Welcome to the new millennium. The decade horror came home to America. The decade horror went global. Welcome to the 80 Best Horror Movies of the 2000s.

If horror movies reflect the fears and concerns of a people, it’s notable that America claimed torture-porn as their de rigueur subgenre. Something in Saw and its ilk’s slow-roasted dismantling of human flesh appealed to a nation consumed by post-9/11 paranoia and a bombardment of wartime images and atrocity. But while torture-porn movies made a killing at the box office, none were ever particularly well-reviewed; only Hostel arrives here. Recovering from the ’90s doldrums, the best horror movies came from overseas, as digital cameras lowered the cost to film and the rise of the internet made knowledge and dissemination of these movies as simple as a mouse click. In fact, of the top 10 movies here (which includes the likes of Pan’s Labyrinth and The Host), only two were shot in America. Other trends seen during this decade: Asian originals and occasional remakes (The Ring, Thirst), found footage (Paranormal Activity, Cloverfield), the return of the living dead (Shaun of the Dead, 28 Days Later), and nostalgic throwbacks (Slither, Death Proof). The only stipulation for a movie to be considered for this list was a Fresh rating from at least 20 reviews.

Time to add some scary MIDIs to your MySpace and set AIM status to away (FOREVER), because here comes the best scary 2000s movies!

90 Best ’70s Horror Movies | 80 Best ’80s Horror Movies
40 Best ’90s Horror Movies| 140 Best 2010s Horror Movies
200 Best Horror Movies of All Time | Best Horror Movies of 2021

#80
#80
Adjusted Score: 64959%
Critics Consensus: This gory, senses-assaulting slasher film is an unpretentious, effective mix of old-school horror stylings and modern 3D technology.
Synopsis: Ten years ago, an inexperienced coal miner named Tom Hanniger (Jensen Ackles) caused an accident that killed five men and... [More]
Directed By: Patrick Lussier

#79

Them (2006)
62%

#79
Adjusted Score: 62490%
Critics Consensus: Suspenseful and tense from start to finish, the French horror film Them proves that a lack of gore doesn't mean a dearth of scares.
Synopsis: Lucas (Michaël Cohen) and Clementine (Olivia Bonamy) live in an isolated house near Bucharest. On one rainy night in their... [More]
Directed By: David Moreau, Xavier Palud

#78

Day Watch (2006)
62%

#78
Adjusted Score: 64644%
Critics Consensus: Day Watch is frequently cheesy but it offers enough twists, surprises, and inventive action sequences to maintain viewer interest.
Synopsis: Anton (Konstantin Khabensky), a member of a group of supernatural guardians who monitor the forces of the Dark, discovers that... [More]
Directed By: Timur Bekmambetov

#77
#77
Adjusted Score: 65829%
Critics Consensus: As Diary of the Dead proves, time hasn't subdued George A. Romero's affection for mixing politics with gore, nor has it given him cinematic grace or subtlety.
Synopsis: The dead are returning to life to feast on the flesh of the living. As civilization dissolves in this nightmare... [More]
Directed By: George A. Romero

#76

Cabin Fever (2002)
62%

#76
Adjusted Score: 66498%
Critics Consensus: More gory than scary, Cabin Fever is satisfied with paying homage to genre conventions rather than reinventing them.
Synopsis: Bert (James DeBello), a college student vacationing with friends in the mountains, mistakenly shoots a local man (Arie Verveen) with... [More]
Directed By: Eli Roth

#75

Identity (2003)
62%

#75
Adjusted Score: 66793%
Critics Consensus: Identity is a film that will divide audiences -- the twists of its plot will either impress or exasperate you.
Synopsis: When a vicious storm breaks out in the Nevada desert, 10 people seek refuge in an isolated motel. At the... [More]
Directed By: James Mangold

#74
Adjusted Score: 64121%
Critics Consensus: Poultrygeist may be relentlessly tasteless and juvenile, but it's also a lively slice of schlocky fun.
Synopsis: Some fast-food workers discover the restaurant they work in is built on an ancient burial ground, and the chickens they... [More]
Directed By: Lloyd Kaufman

#73

Martyrs (2008)
64%

#73
Adjusted Score: 64775%
Critics Consensus: A real polarising movie, this Gallic torture-porn is graphic, brutal, nasty and gruesome and not to everyone's taste.
Synopsis: A young woman's quest for revenge leads her down a path of depravity.... [More]
Directed By: Pascal Laugier

#72

In My Skin (2002)
64%

#72
Adjusted Score: 64649%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: A Parisian marketing professional, Esther (Marina de Van) has a gruesome secret. She's been obsessed with the damage she can... [More]
Directed By: Marina de Van

#71

Session 9 (2001)
66%

#71
Adjusted Score: 67275%
Critics Consensus: Relying more on atmosphere than gore, Session 9 is effectively creepy.
Synopsis: A tale of terror when a group of asbestos removal workers start work in an abandoned insane asylum. The complex... [More]
Directed By: Brad Anderson

#70

The Eye (2002)
64%

#70
Adjusted Score: 66943%
Critics Consensus: Conventional ghost tale with a few genuine scares.
Synopsis: After 18 years of blindness, 20-year-old violinist Wong Kar Mun (Lee Sin-Je) regains her vision when she undergoes a corneal... [More]

#69

Willard (2003)
64%

#69
Adjusted Score: 67108%
Critics Consensus: In this creepy story of a man and his rodents, Glover seems born to play the oddball title character.
Synopsis: Desperate for companionship, the repressed Willard (Crispin Glover) befriends a group of rats that inhabit his late father's deteriorating mansion.... [More]
Directed By: Glen Morgan

#68

Lunacy (2005)
65%

#68
Adjusted Score: 64620%
Critics Consensus: A Svankmajer movie is not for everyone, but he displays his usual creative flair for surreal imagery.
Synopsis: In 19th-century France a young man (Pavel Liska) meets a nobleman (Jan Tríska) who invites him to spend the night... [More]
Directed By: Jan Svankmajer

#67

Ichi the Killer (2001)
65%

#67
Adjusted Score: 65806%
Critics Consensus: Ichi The Killer is a thoroughly shocking gorefest that will surely entertain those with strong stomachs and a penchant for brutal violence.
Synopsis: A bloodthirsty hoodlum (Tadanobu Asano) sparks a series of violent reprisals after his boss is apparently taken by a mysterious... [More]
Directed By: Takashi Miike

#66
Adjusted Score: 66058%
Critics Consensus: Death Proof may feel somewhat minor in the context of Tarantino's larger filmography, but on its own merits, it packs just enough of a wallop to deliver sufficiently high-octane grindhouse goods.
Synopsis: Stuntman Mike (Kurt Russell) is a professional body double who likes to take unsuspecting women for deadly drives in his... [More]
Directed By: Quentin Tarantino

#65

Carriers (2009)
66%

#65
Adjusted Score: 65727%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: When a virus threatens to wipe out humanity, Danny (Lou Taylor Pucci), his brother Brian (Chris Pine), and their friends... [More]
Directed By: Àlex Pastor, David Pastor

#64

Severance (2006)
66%

#64
Adjusted Score: 68357%
Critics Consensus: A twisted and bloody spoof on office life, Severance nicely balances comedy and nasty horror.
Synopsis: Members (Danny Dyer, Laura Harris, Tim McInnerny) of the Palisades Defense Corp. sales group arrive in Europe for a team-building... [More]
Directed By: Christopher Smith

#63

My Little Eye (2002)
67%

#63
Adjusted Score: 52363%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: As part of an Internet reality show, five people sign up to spend six months in a mansion while cameras... [More]
Directed By: Marc Evans

#62
Adjusted Score: 67391%
Critics Consensus: If nothing else, Happiness of the Katakuris scores points for its delirious, over-the-top originality.
Synopsis: Fearing bad publicity, an innkeeper and his family bury the bodies of their ill-fated guests themselves.... [More]
Directed By: Takashi Miike

#61

Red Dragon (2002)
68%

#61
Adjusted Score: 73209%
Critics Consensus: Competently made, but everything is a bit too familiar.
Synopsis: Ex-FBI agent Will Graham (Edward Norton) is an expert investigator who quit the Bureau after almost losing his life in... [More]
Directed By: Brett Ratner

#60
#60
Adjusted Score: 68430%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Members of Charles Manson's cult tell their story.... [More]
Directed By: Jim Van Bebber

#59

Tormented (2009)
69%

#59
Adjusted Score: 69530%
Critics Consensus: It relies too heavily on American slasher cliches, but Tormented is a timely, funny, and even somewhat touching entry in the high school horror genre.
Synopsis: Darren Mullet (Calvin Dean) doesn't have it easy. He's overweight, uses an inhaler and is constantly bullied by his spoiled... [More]
Directed By: Jon Wright

#58

May (2002)
70%

#58
Adjusted Score: 70710%
Critics Consensus: Above average slasher flick.
Synopsis: Young misfit May (Angela Bettis) endured a difficult childhood because of her lazy eye. And though contact lenses have helped... [More]
Directed By: Lucky McKee

#57

Dead Snow (2009)
69%

#57
Adjusted Score: 70504%
Critics Consensus: Though it doesn't cover new ground, Dead Snow is an entertaining mix of camp, scares, and blood and guts.
Synopsis: A party of eight Norwegian medical students travel to a remote Arctic mountain for an Easter weekend filled with skiing... [More]
Directed By: Tommy Wirkola

#56

American Psycho (2000)
69%

#56
Adjusted Score: 74646%
Critics Consensus: If it falls short of the deadly satire of Bret Easton Ellis's novel, American Psycho still finds its own blend of horror and humor, thanks in part to a fittingly creepy performance by Christian Bale.
Synopsis: In New York City in 1987, a handsome, young urban professional, Patrick Bateman (Christian Bale), lives a second life as... [More]
Directed By: Mary Harron

#55
#55
Adjusted Score: 75479%
Critics Consensus: Snakes on a Plane lives up to its title, featuring snakes on a plane. It isn't perfect, but then again, it doesn't need to be.
Synopsis: FBI agent Nelville Flynn (Samuel L. Jackson) boards a flight from Hawaii to Los Angeles, escorting a witness to trial.... [More]
Directed By: David R. Ellis

#54

The Mist (2007)
72%

#54
Adjusted Score: 77082%
Critics Consensus: Frank Darabont's impressive camerawork and politically incisive script make The Mist a truly frightening experience.
Synopsis: After a powerful storm damages their Maine home, David Drayton (Thomas Jane) and his young son head into town to... [More]
Directed By: Frank Darabont

#53

Open Water (2003)
71%

#53
Adjusted Score: 77700%
Critics Consensus: A low budget thriller with some intense moments.
Synopsis: Daniel (Daniel Travis) and Susan (Blanchard Ryan) embark on a tropical vacation with their scuba-diving certifications in tow. During a... [More]
Directed By: Chris Kentis

#52

28 Weeks Later (2007)
71%

#52
Adjusted Score: 79379%
Critics Consensus: While 28 Weeks Later lacks the humanism that made 28 Days Later a classic, it's made up with fantastic atmosphere and punchy direction.
Synopsis: Six months after the original epidemic, the rage virus has all but annihilated the population of the British Isles. Nevertheless... [More]

#51

The Ring (2002)
71%

#51
Adjusted Score: 76849%
Critics Consensus: With little gore and a lot of creepy visuals, The Ring gets under your skin, thanks to director Gore Verbinski's haunting sense of atmosphere and an impassioned performance from Naomi Watts.
Synopsis: It sounds like just another urban legend -- a videotape filled with nightmarish images leads to a phone call foretelling... [More]
Directed By: Gore Verbinski

#50

Grace (2009)
72%

#50
Adjusted Score: 71456%
Critics Consensus: Though not entirely effective as a conventional horror flick, Grace is still a graphic, disturbing, and artful exploration of twisted maternal instinct.
Synopsis: In the wake of a horrific car accident that kills her husband, Michael (Stephen Park), expectant mother Madeline Matheson (Jordan... [More]
Directed By: Paul Solet

#49

Vampire Hunter D (2000)
72%

#49
Adjusted Score: 71436%
Critics Consensus: Vampire Hunter D's gothic charms may be lost on those unfamiliar with the anime series that spawned it, but the crisp action and nightmarish style will satiate horror aficionados' bloodlust.
Synopsis: In a dark and distant future, when the undead have arisen from apocalyptic ashes, an original story unfolds. Ten thousand... [More]
Directed By: Yoshiaki Kawajiri

#48

Dahmer (2002)
72%

#48
Adjusted Score: 71479%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: In this fictionalized, fragmented biopic of one of America's most notorious serial killers, Jeffrey Dahmer (Jeremy Renner) contemplates his latest... [More]
Directed By: David Jacobson

#47

I Sell the Dead (2008)
72%

#47
Adjusted Score: 72093%
Critics Consensus: A horror comedy that's almost as chilling as it is funny, I Sell the Dead relies on its dark humor and offbeat charm to overcome its low budget shortcomings.
Synopsis: Arthur Blake (Dominic Monaghan) is about to be executed by guillotine for the crime of grave robbing. But before he... [More]
Directed By: Glenn McQuaid

#46

Gozu (2003)
72%

#46
Adjusted Score: 72238%
Critics Consensus: Miike continues his run of compellingly bizarre flicks.
Synopsis: Chaos ensues when a yakuza boss orders a young gangster (Hideki Sone) to kill an insane colleague (Shô Aikawa).... [More]
Directed By: Takashi Miike

#45

Fido (2007)
72%

#45
Adjusted Score: 74637%
Critics Consensus: Making the most of its thin premise, Fido is an occasionally touching satire that provides big laughs and enough blood and guts to please gorehounds.
Synopsis: When a cloud of space dust causes the dead to rise as ravenous zombies, the ZomCon Corp. emerges to conquer... [More]
Directed By: Andrew Currie

#44

Black Sheep (2006)
72%

#44
Adjusted Score: 74596%
Critics Consensus: With an outrageous premise played completely straight, Black Sheep is a violent, grotesque, and very funny movie that takes B-movie lunacy to a delirious extreme.
Synopsis: Sheep-fearing Henry (Nathan Meister) returns to his brother's (Peter Feeney) New Zealand farm, hoping his sibling will buy out his... [More]
Directed By: Jonathan King

#43
#43
Adjusted Score: 72502%
Critics Consensus: A creative and energetic adaptation of a Clive Barker short story, with enough scares and thrills to be a potential cult classic.
Synopsis: When struggling photographer Leon Kaufman (Bradley Cooper) meets the owner of a prominent art gallery, he sees a chance for... [More]
Directed By: Ryûhei Kitamura

#42
#42
Adjusted Score: 74185%
Critics Consensus: This French animated horror portmanteau is monochrome and minimalist, visually stunning, but light on scares.
Synopsis: Animated sequences explore people's fear of darkness.... [More]

#41
#41
Adjusted Score: 76664%
Critics Consensus: Brotherhood of the Wolf mixes its genres with little logic, but the end result is wildly entertaining.
Synopsis: In a rural province of France, a mysterious creature is laying waste to the countryside, savagely killing scores of women... [More]
Directed By: Christophe Gans

#40

Splinter (2008)
74%

#40
Adjusted Score: 73729%
Critics Consensus: Never taking itself too seriously, Splinter scores as a fast-paced, fun thriller with more than enough scares.
Synopsis: When their plans for a nature trip go awry, Polly Watt (Jill Wagner) and boyfriend Seth Belzer (Paulo Costanzo) decide... [More]
Directed By: Toby Wilkins

#39

Frailty (2002)
75%

#39
Adjusted Score: 78839%
Critics Consensus: Creepy and disturbing, Frailty is well-crafted, low-key horror.
Synopsis: Set in present day Texas, "Frailty" centers on the FBI's search for a serial killer who calls himself "God's Hands."... [More]
Directed By: Bill Paxton

#38

Land of the Dead (2005)
74%

#38
Adjusted Score: 80997%
Critics Consensus: George A. Romero's latest entry in his much-vaunted Dead series is not as fresh as his genre-inventing original, Night of the Living Dead. But Land of the Dead does deliver on the gore and zombies-feasting-on-flesh action.
Synopsis: In a world where zombies form the majority of the population, the remaining humans build a feudal society away from... [More]
Directed By: George Romero

#37

Hair High (2004)
75%

#37
Adjusted Score: 63757%
Critics Consensus: Hair High isn't first-tier Plympton, but like the rest of the animator's work, this is an assuredly odd tale that should resonate with fans of strange cinema.
Synopsis: As the prom approaches, the head cheerleader (Sarah Silverman) of Echo Lake High dumps her quarterback boyfriend (Dermot Mulroney) in... [More]
Directed By: Bill Plympton

#36

Planet Terror (2007)
76%

#36
Adjusted Score: 75388%
Critics Consensus: A cool and hip grindhouse throwback, Planet Terror is an unpredictable zombie thrillride.
Synopsis: An ordinary evening in a small Texas town becomes a grisly nightmare when a horde of flesh-eating zombies goes on... [More]
Directed By: Robert Rodriguez

#35
Adjusted Score: 77011%
Critics Consensus: A smart mockumentary that presents a gory, funny, and obviously affectionate skewering of the slasher genre.
Synopsis: Nice, normal-looking Leslie Vernon (Nathan Baesel) has an obsession with movie-style slashers like Michael Myers, Jason Voorhees and Freddy Krueger.... [More]
Directed By: Scott Glosserman

#34

The Last Winter (2006)
76%

#34
Adjusted Score: 77442%
Critics Consensus: The Last Winter creatively and effectively uses horror tactics -- fear, tension, anticipation, and just enough gore -- to shock, but never repulse, its audience.
Synopsis: Sent to evaluate the environmental impact of oil drilling in the Arctic, James Hoffman (James Le Gros) clashes with the... [More]
Directed By: Larry Fessenden

#33

Dawn of the Dead (2004)
76%

#33
Adjusted Score: 82020%
Critics Consensus: A kinetic, violent and surprisingly worthy remake of George Romero's horror classic that pays homage to the original while working on its own terms.
Synopsis: When her husband is attacked by a zombified neighbor, Ana (Sarah Polley) manages to escape, only to realize her entire... [More]
Directed By: Zack Snyder

#32

Cloverfield (2008)
78%

#32
Adjusted Score: 85550%
Critics Consensus: A sort of Blair Witch Project crossed with Godzilla, Cloverfield is economically paced, stylistically clever, and filled with scares.
Synopsis: As a group of New Yorkers (Michael Stahl-David, Mike Vogel, Odette Yustman) enjoy a going-away party, little do they know... [More]
Directed By: Matt Reeves

#31

Eden Lake (2008)
80%

#31
Adjusted Score: 80363%
Critics Consensus: A brutal and effective British hoodie-horror that, despite the clichés, stays on the right side of scary.
Synopsis: During a romantic weekend getaway, a young couple confronts a gang of youths, and suffers brutal consequences.... [More]
Directed By: James Watkins

#30

Dog Soldiers (2002)
79%

#30
Adjusted Score: 78819%
Critics Consensus: Frightening, funny, and packed with action, Dog Soldiers is well worth checking out for genre fans -- and marks writer-director Neil Marshall as a talent to keep an eye on.
Synopsis: During a routine nighttime training mission in the Scottish Highlands, a small squad of British soldiers expected to rendezvous with... [More]
Directed By: Neil Marshall

#29

Bubba Ho-Tep (2002)
79%

#29
Adjusted Score: 81981%
Critics Consensus: The best movie to star both the King and JFK.
Synopsis: After falling into a lengthy coma following a freak accident involving hip gyration, a now aged Elvis Presley (Bruce Campbell)... [More]
Directed By: Don Coscarelli

#28

1408 (2007)
79%

#28
Adjusted Score: 86378%
Critics Consensus: Relying on psychological tension rather than overt violence and gore, 1408 is a genuinely creepy thriller with a strong lead performance by John Cusack.
Synopsis: Mike Enslin (John Cusack) is a successful author who enjoys worldwide acclaim debunking supernatural phenomena -- before he checks into... [More]
Directed By: Mikael Hafstrom

#27

Wake Wood (2011)
80%

#27
Adjusted Score: 80077%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: The parents of a deceased girl are given three days with their dead daughter.... [More]
Directed By: David Keating

#26

Teeth (2007)
80%

#26
Adjusted Score: 82185%
Critics Consensus: Smart, original, and horrifically funny, Teeth puts a fresh feminist spin on horror movie tropes.
Synopsis: Dawn (Jess Weixler) is an active member of her high-school chastity club but, when she meets Tobey (Hale Appleman), nature... [More]
Directed By: Mitchell Lichtenstein

#25

Thirst (2009)
80%

#25
Adjusted Score: 84278%
Critics Consensus: The stylish Thirst packs plenty of bloody thrills to satisfy fans of both vampire films and director Chan Wook Park.
Synopsis: Sang-hyun (Song Kang-ho), a respected priest, volunteers for an experimental procedure that may lead to a cure for a deadly... [More]
Directed By: Park Chan-wook

#24

Taxidermia (2006)
81%

#24
Adjusted Score: 80995%
Critics Consensus: Surreal and visually striking, Taxidermia is, at times, graphic and difficult to watch, but creatively touches on disturbing subjects with imagination and wit.
Synopsis: Set over three generations and beginning with Morosgoványi Vendel, a sexually frustrated orderly during the war who relieves his tensions... [More]
Directed By: Gyorgy Palfi

#23
#23
Adjusted Score: 86070%
Critics Consensus: Shadow of the Vampire is frightening, compelling, and funny, and features an excellent performance by Willem Dafoe.
Synopsis: F. W. Murnau (John Malkovich) is struggling to create his silent classic "Nosferatu" on location in Eastern Europe. The director... [More]
Directed By: E. Elias Merhige

#22

Trick 'r Treat (2007)
84%

#22
Adjusted Score: 84456%
Critics Consensus: A deftly crafted tribute to Halloween legends, Trick 'r' Treat hits all the genre marks with gusto and old fashioned suspense.
Synopsis: Interwoven stories demonstrate that some traditions are best not forgotten as the residents (Anna Paquin, Brian Cox, Dylan Baker) of... [More]
Directed By: Michael Dougherty

#21

The Others (2001)
83%

#21
Adjusted Score: 89447%
Critics Consensus: The Others is a spooky thriller that reminds us that a movie doesn't need expensive special effects to be creepy.
Synopsis: Grace (Nicole Kidman), the devoutly religious mother of Anne (Alakina Mann) and Nicholas (James Bentley), moves her family to the... [More]
Directed By: Alejandro Amenábar

#20
#20
Adjusted Score: 91418%
Critics Consensus: Using its low-budget effects and mockumentary method to great result, Paranormal Activity turns a simple haunted house story into 90 minutes of relentless suspense.
Synopsis: Soon after moving into a suburban tract home, Katie (Katie Featherston) and Micah (Micah Sloat) become increasingly disturbed by what... [More]
Directed By: Oren Peli

#19
Adjusted Score: 84725%
Critics Consensus: This anthology contains brutal, powerful horror stories by three of Asia's top directors.
Synopsis: ... [More]
Directed By: Takashi Miike

#18

Pontypool (2008)
84%

#18
Adjusted Score: 86999%
Critics Consensus: Witty and restrained but still taut and funny, this Pontypool is a different breed of low-budget zombie film.
Synopsis: When disc jockey Grant Mazzy (Stephen McHattie) reports to his basement radio station in the Canadian town of Pontypool, he... [More]
Directed By: Bruce McDonald

#17
#17
Adjusted Score: 86397%
Critics Consensus: Restrained but disturbing, A Tale of Two Sisters is a creepily effective, if at times confusing, horror movie.
Synopsis: After being institutionalized in a mental hospital, Korean teen Su-mi (Yum Jung-ah) reunites with her beloved sister, Su-yeon (Im Soo-jung),... [More]
Directed By: Kim Jee-woon

#16
#16
Adjusted Score: 88335%
Critics Consensus: Though its underlying themes are familiar, House of the Devil effectively sheds the loud and gory cliches of contemporary horror to deliver a tense, slowly building throwback to the fright flicks of decades past.
Synopsis: Desperate to make some money so she can move into a new apartment, college student Samantha Hughes (Jocelin Donahue) takes... [More]
Directed By: Ti West

#15

Requiem (2006)
86%

#15
Adjusted Score: 86715%
Critics Consensus: This harrowing, naturalistic drama holds you in its grip through Huller's intense performance.
Synopsis: Michaela, an epileptic, enrolls in college to study education. She goes off her medication and soon begins hearing voices and... [More]
Directed By: Hans-Christian Schmid

#14

The Descent (2005)
86%

#14
Adjusted Score: 93860%
Critics Consensus: Deft direction and strong performances from its all-female cast guide The Descent, a riveting, claustrophobic horror film.
Synopsis: A year after a severe emotional trauma, Sarah (Shauna Macdonald) goes to North Carolina to spend some time exploring caves... [More]
Directed By: Neil Marshall

#13
Adjusted Score: 88435%
Critics Consensus: Guy Maddin's film is a richly sensuous and dreamy interpretation of Dracula that reinvigorates the genre.
Synopsis: In this ballet version of Bram Stoker's classic vampire tale, Dracula (Zhang Wei-Qiang) arrives in London and performs a dance... [More]
Directed By: Guy Maddin

#12

Slither (2006)
87%

#12
Adjusted Score: 91717%
Critics Consensus: A slimy, B-movie homage oozing with affection for low-budget horror films, Slither is creepy and funny -- if you've got the stomach for it.
Synopsis: Wheelsy is a small town where not much happens and everyone minds his own business. No one notices when evil... [More]
Directed By: James Gunn

#11

The Orphanage (2007)
87%

#11
Adjusted Score: 94026%
Critics Consensus: Deeply unnerving and surprisingly poignant, The Orphanage is an atmospheric, beautifully crafted haunted house horror film that earns scares with a minimum of blood.
Synopsis: Laura (Belén Rueda) has happy memories of her childhood in an orphanage. She convinces her husband to buy the place... [More]
Directed By: J.A. Bayona

#10

28 Days Later (2002)
87%

#10
Adjusted Score: 94189%
Critics Consensus: Kinetically directed by Danny Boyle, 28 Days Later is both a terrifying zombie movie and a sharp political allegory.
Synopsis: A group of misguided animal rights activists free a caged chimp infected with the "Rage" virus from a medical research... [More]
Directed By: Danny Boyle

#9

Rec (2007)
89%

#9
Adjusted Score: 89819%
Critics Consensus: Plunging viewers into the nightmarish hellscape of an apartment complex under siege, [Rec] proves that found footage can still be used as an effective delivery mechanism for sparse, economic horror.
Synopsis: A reporter (Manuela Velasco) and her cameraman record the horrifying outbreak of a disease that turns humans into vicious cannibals.... [More]

#8

Zombieland (2009)
89%

#8
Adjusted Score: 99788%
Critics Consensus: Wickedly funny and featuring plenty of gore, Zombieland is proof that the zombie subgenre is far from dead.
Synopsis: After a virus turns most people into zombies, the world's surviving humans remain locked in an ongoing battle against the... [More]
Directed By: Ruben Fleischer

#7

Ginger Snaps (2000)
90%

#7
Adjusted Score: 90570%
Critics Consensus: The strong female cast and biting satire of teenage life makes Ginger Snaps far more memorable than your average werewolf movie -- or teen flick.
Synopsis: The story of two outcast sisters, Ginger (Katharine Isabelle) and Brigitte (Emily Perkins), in the mindless suburban town of Bailey... [More]
Directed By: John Fawcett

#6
#6
Adjusted Score: 96338%
Critics Consensus: Creepily atmospheric and haunting, The Devil's Backbone is both a potent ghost story and an intelligent political allegory.
Synopsis: After losing his father, 10-year-old Carlos (Fernando Tielve) arrives at the Santa Lucia School, which shelters orphans of the Republican... [More]
Directed By: Guillermo del Toro

#5
#5
Adjusted Score: 98888%
Critics Consensus: Shaun of the Dead cleverly balances scares and witty satire, making for a bloody good zombie movie with loads of wit.
Synopsis: Shaun (Simon Pegg) is a 30-something loser with a dull, easy existence. When he's not working at the electronics store,... [More]
Directed By: Edgar Wright

#4

Drag Me to Hell (2009)
92%

#4
Adjusted Score: 103288%
Critics Consensus: Sam Raimi returns to top form with Drag Me to Hell, a frightening, hilarious, delightfully campy thrill ride.
Synopsis: Christine Brown (Alison Lohman) has a loving boyfriend (Justin Long) and a great job at a Los Angeles bank. But... [More]
Directed By: Sam Raimi

#3

The Host (2006)
93%

#3
Adjusted Score: 98421%
Critics Consensus: As populace pleasing as it is intellectually satisfying, The Host combines scares, laughs, and satire into a riveting, monster movie.
Synopsis: Careless American military personnel dump chemicals into South Korea's Han River. Several years later, a creature emerges from the tainted... [More]
Directed By: Bong Joon-ho

#2

Pan's Labyrinth (2006)
95%

#2
Adjusted Score: 104442%
Critics Consensus: Pan's Labyrinth is Alice in Wonderland for grown-ups, with the horrors of both reality and fantasy blended together into an extraordinary, spellbinding fable.
Synopsis: In 1944 Spain young Ofelia (Ivana Baquero) and her ailing mother (Ariadna Gil) arrive at the post of her mother's... [More]
Directed By: Guillermo del Toro

#1
#1
Adjusted Score: 104738%
Critics Consensus: Let the Right One In reinvigorates the seemingly tired vampire genre by effectively mixing scares with intelligent storytelling.
Synopsis: When Oskar (Kåre Hedebrant), a sensitive, bullied 12-year-old boy living with his mother in suburban Sweden, meets his new neighbor,... [More]
Directed By: Tomas Alfredson

(Photo by Magnolia Pictures, New Line Cinema, Sony Pictures Classics, Columbia Pictures, Warner Bros. / courtesy Everett Collection)

The 30 Essential Vampire Movies To Watch Right Now

Werewolves, mummies, and cobbled-together lab freaks have been around since the earliest decades of film, but no monster was perhaps more camera-ready than the vampire. Those counts and lords who love to mug and menace for the camera, mesmerize with their fancy capes, and whose pale skin glows in the luminous flicker of old film cameras. So no surprise that some of the best vampire movies back then are some of the best vampires now, like Dracula, Nosferatu, and Vampyr, even as they approach their centennial anniversaries. That’s the bar that’s been set for our guide to the essential and best vampire movies, and still we found plenty worthy to follow in their fang-steps.

Across legend, we know vampires for their allure and seductive properties. (Or at least, just their property — who wouldn’t be charmed by a 600-bedroom castle?) The sex appeal of the vampires has especially been played up in movies since the ’80s: As the sexy suburban neighbor (Fright Night), the upper-strata socialites (The Hunger), and a smoulderer’s row of hot guys (Interview with the Vampire) and leather jacket rebels (The Lost Boys).

Or if you just want some action, see From Dusk ‘Til Dawn, Daybreakers, Underworld, and 30 Days of Night.

So, looking for something to watch on your next open-coffin-and-chill night? Then go to bat with our 30 Essential Vampire Movies!

#30

Blacula (1972)
48%

#30
Adjusted Score: 50104%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: During a visit to Transylvania, an African prince (William Marshall) gets turned into a vampire by Count Dracula (Charles McCauley).... [More]
Directed By: William Crain

#29

Daybreakers (2009)
69%

#29
Adjusted Score: 73537%
Critics Consensus: Though it arrives during an unfortunate glut of vampire movies, Daybreakers offers enough dark sci-fi thrills -- and enough of a unique twist on the genre -- to satisfy filmgoers.
Synopsis: Ten years after a plague turns most of the world's population into vampires, a critical blood shortage causes panic and... [More]

#28

30 Days of Night (2007)
51%

#28
Adjusted Score: 56608%
Critics Consensus: While 30 Days of Night offers a few thrills, it ultimately succumbs to erratic execution.
Synopsis: In the far Northern Hemisphere, the small town of Barrow, Alaska, experiences a solid month of darkness every year. Though... [More]
Directed By: David Slade

#27

The Hunger (1983)
55%

#27
Adjusted Score: 56494%
Critics Consensus: Stylish yet hollow, The Hunger is a well-cast vampire thriller that mistakes erotic moments for a satisfying story.
Synopsis: John (David Bowie) is the lover of the gorgeous immortal vampire Miriam (Catherine Deneuve), and he's been led to believe... [More]
Directed By: Tony Scott

#26

Twilight (2008)
49%

#26
Adjusted Score: 57043%
Critics Consensus: Having lost much of its bite transitioning to the big screen, Twilight will please its devoted fans, but do little for the uninitiated.
Synopsis: High-school student Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart), always a bit of a misfit, doesn't expect life to change much when she... [More]
Directed By: Catherine Hardwicke

#25
#25
Adjusted Score: 86070%
Critics Consensus: Shadow of the Vampire is frightening, compelling, and funny, and features an excellent performance by Willem Dafoe.
Synopsis: F. W. Murnau (John Malkovich) is struggling to create his silent classic "Nosferatu" on location in Eastern Europe. The director... [More]
Directed By: E. Elias Merhige

#24
Adjusted Score: 70526%
Critics Consensus: This uneven but amiable 1967 vampire picture is part horror spoof, part central European epic, and 100 percent Roman Polanski, whose signature sensibility colors every frame.
Synopsis: Vampire hunter Professor Abronsius (Jack MacGowran) and his faithful assistant, Alfred (Roman Polanski), are traveling across Transylvania when they stop... [More]
Directed By: Roman Polanski

#23

Near Dark (1987)
81%

#23
Adjusted Score: 85530%
Critics Consensus: Near Dark is at once a creepy vampire film, a thrilling western, and a poignant family tale, with humor and scares in abundance.
Synopsis: Cowboy Caleb Colton (Adrian Pasdar) meets gorgeous Mae (Jenny Wright) at a bar, and the two have an immediate attraction.... [More]
Directed By: Kathryn Bigelow

#22

Martin (1978)
90%

#22
Adjusted Score: 92461%
Critics Consensus: George A. Romero's contribution to vampire lore contains the expected gore and social satire -- but it's also surprisingly thoughtful, and boasts a whopper of a final act.
Synopsis: Young Martin (John Amplas) is entirely convinced that he is an 84-year-old blood-sucking vampire. Without fangs or mystical powers, Martin... [More]
Directed By: George A. Romero

#21

Blood Couple (1973)
90%

#21
Adjusted Score: 90110%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Germs from the stab of an ancient dagger turn two lovers (Duane Jones, Marlene Clark) into immortal vampires.... [More]
Directed By: Bill Gunn

#20

Black Sunday (1960)
86%

#20
Adjusted Score: 86591%
Critics Consensus: Mario Bava's official narrative debut is a witchy nightmare steeped in gothic splendor, shot in chiaroscuro black and white and punctuated with startling gore.
Synopsis: Burned at the stake, a vampire witch princess (Barbara Steele) wakes up centuries later with her undead henchman.... [More]
Directed By: Mario Bava

#19

Cronos (1993)
89%

#19
Adjusted Score: 93331%
Critics Consensus: Guillermo del Toro's unique feature debut is not only gory and stylish, but also charming and intelligent.
Synopsis: Antique dealer Jesus Gris (Federico Luppi) stumbles across Cronos, a 400-year-old scarab that, when it latches onto him, grants him... [More]
Directed By: Guillermo del Toro

#18

Vampire Hunter D (2000)
72%

#18
Adjusted Score: 71436%
Critics Consensus: Vampire Hunter D's gothic charms may be lost on those unfamiliar with the anime series that spawned it, but the crisp action and nightmarish style will satiate horror aficionados' bloodlust.
Synopsis: In a dark and distant future, when the undead have arisen from apocalyptic ashes, an original story unfolds. Ten thousand... [More]
Directed By: Yoshiaki Kawajiri

#17

Fright Night (1985)
92%

#17
Adjusted Score: 94705%
Critics Consensus: Fright Night deftly combines thrills and humor in this ghostly tale about a man living next to a vampire.
Synopsis: Teenage Charley Brewster (William Ragsdale) is a horror-film junkie, so it's no surprise that, when a reclusive new neighbor named... [More]
Directed By: Tom Holland

#16

Blade (1998)
57%

#16
Adjusted Score: 62985%
Critics Consensus: Though some may find the plot a bit lacking, Blade's action is fierce, plentiful, and appropriately stylish for a comic book adaptation.
Synopsis: A half-mortal, half-immortal is out to avenge his mother's death and rid the world of vampires. The modern-day technologically advanced... [More]
Directed By: Stephen Norrington

#15

Underworld (2003)
31%

#15
Adjusted Score: 35362%
Critics Consensus: Though stylish to look at, Underworld is tedious and derivative.
Synopsis: Under cover of night, vampires engage in an age-old battle with their sworn enemies, the Lycans, a clan of violent... [More]
Directed By: Len Wiseman

#14
#14
Adjusted Score: 64581%
Critics Consensus: A pulpy crime drama/vampire film hybrid, From Dusk Till Dawn is an uneven but often deliriously enjoyable B-movie.
Synopsis: On the run from a bank robbery that left several police officers dead, Seth Gecko (George Clooney) and his paranoid,... [More]
Directed By: Robert Rodriguez

#13
Adjusted Score: 101050%
Critics Consensus: A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night blends conventional elements into something brilliantly original -- and serves as a striking calling card for writer-director Ana Lily Amirpour.
Synopsis: Residents of a worn-down Iranian city encounter a skateboarding vampire (Sheila Vand) who preys on men who disrespect women.... [More]
Directed By: Ana Lily Amirpour

#12

Thirst (2009)
80%

#12
Adjusted Score: 84278%
Critics Consensus: The stylish Thirst packs plenty of bloody thrills to satisfy fans of both vampire films and director Chan Wook Park.
Synopsis: Sang-hyun (Song Kang-ho), a respected priest, volunteers for an experimental procedure that may lead to a cure for a deadly... [More]
Directed By: Park Chan-wook

#11
#11
Adjusted Score: 94774%
Critics Consensus: Worth watching for Tom Hiddleston and Tilda Swinton's performances alone, Only Lovers Left Alive finds writer-director Jim Jarmusch adding a typically offbeat entry to the vampire genre.
Synopsis: Artistic, sophisticated and centuries old, two vampire lovers (Tilda Swinton, Tom Hiddleston) ponder their ultimate place in modern society.... [More]
Directed By: Jim Jarmusch

#10
#10
Adjusted Score: 79910%
Critics Consensus: Overblown in the best sense of the word, Francis Ford Coppola's vision of Bram Stoker's Dracula rescues the character from decades of campy interpretations -- and features some terrific performances to boot.
Synopsis: Adaptation of Bram Stoker's classic vampire novel. Gary Oldman plays Dracula whose lonely soul is determined to reunite with his... [More]
Directed By: Francis Ford Coppola

#9
#9
Adjusted Score: 94604%
Critics Consensus: Trading gore for grandeur, Horror of Dracula marks an impressive turn for inveterate Christopher Lee as the titular vampire, and a typical Hammer mood that makes aristocracy quite sexy.
Synopsis: On a search for his missing friend Jonathan Harker (John Van Eyssen), vampire hunter Dr. Van Helsing (Peter Cushing) is... [More]
Directed By: Terence Fisher

#8

Dracula (1931)
94%

#8
Adjusted Score: 99086%
Critics Consensus: Bela Lugosi's timeless portrayal of Dracula in this creepy and atmospheric 1931 film has set the standard for major vampiric roles since.
Synopsis: The dashing, mysterious Count Dracula (Bela Lugosi), after hypnotizing a British soldier, Renfield (Dwight Frye), into his mindless slave, travels... [More]
Directed By: Tod Browning

#7

Nosferatu (1979)
95%

#7
Adjusted Score: 100107%
Critics Consensus: Stunning visuals from Werner Herzog and an intense portrayal of the famed bloodsucker from Klaus Kinski make this remake of Nosferatu a horror classic in its own right.
Synopsis: Jonathan Harker is sent away to Count Dracula's castle to sell him a house in Virna, where he lives. But... [More]
Directed By: Werner Herzog

#6

Vampyr (1932)
97%

#6
Adjusted Score: 97801%
Critics Consensus: Full of disorienting visual effects, Carl Theodor Dreyer's Vampyr is as theoretically unsettling as it is conceptually disturbing.
Synopsis: After Allan Gray (Julian West) rents a room near Courtempierre in France, strange events unfold: An elderly man leaves a... [More]
Directed By: Carl Theodor Dreyer

#5

The Lost Boys (1987)
77%

#5
Adjusted Score: 81626%
Critics Consensus: Flawed but eminently watchable, Joel Schumacher's teen vampire thriller blends horror, humor, and plenty of visual style with standout performances from a cast full of young 1980s stars.
Synopsis: Teenage brothers Michael (Jason Patric) and Sam (Corey Haim) move with their mother (Dianne Wiest) to a small town in... [More]
Directed By: Joel Schumacher

#4
Adjusted Score: 67434%
Critics Consensus: Despite lacking some of the book's subtler shadings, and suffering from some clumsy casting, Interview with a Vampire benefits from Neil Jordan's atmospheric direction and a surfeit of gothic thrills.
Synopsis: Born as an 18th-century lord, Louis is now a bicentennial vampire, telling his story to an eager biographer. Suicidal after... [More]
Directed By: Neil Jordan

#3
Adjusted Score: 103461%
Critics Consensus: Smarter, fresher, and funnier than a modern vampire movie has any right to be, What We Do in the Shadows is bloody good fun.
Synopsis: Vampire housemates (Jemaine Clement, Taika Waititi, Jonathan Brugh) try to cope with the complexities of modern life and show a... [More]

#2
#2
Adjusted Score: 104738%
Critics Consensus: Let the Right One In reinvigorates the seemingly tired vampire genre by effectively mixing scares with intelligent storytelling.
Synopsis: When Oskar (Kåre Hedebrant), a sensitive, bullied 12-year-old boy living with his mother in suburban Sweden, meets his new neighbor,... [More]
Directed By: Tomas Alfredson

#1

Nosferatu (1922)
97%

#1
Adjusted Score: 109964%
Critics Consensus: One of the silent era's most influential masterpieces, Nosferatu's eerie, gothic feel -- and a chilling performance from Max Schreck as the vampire -- set the template for the horror films that followed.
Synopsis: In this highly influential silent horror film, the mysterious Count Orlok (Max Schreck) summons Thomas Hutter (Gustav von Wangenheim) to... [More]
Directed By: F.W. Murnau

Though Angelina Jolie is soon expecting twins, we snagged a coveted exclusive video interview with the star on the eve of her turn as a sexy assassin in Timur Bekmambetov‘s high-octane action flick, Wanted. What are you waiting for?? Watch it now.

Jolie kindly sat down with Rotten Tomatoes to discuss Wanted, the major studio debut of acclaimed Russian director Timur Bekmambetov (Night Watch). In it, she plays a sultry assassin named The Fox — and although it sounds utterly ridiculous for the world’s most beautiful woman to say so, Jolie admits to us that she never watches footage of her scenes: “I can’t watch myself.”

Click below to watch and hear Angelina Jolie discuss Wanted‘s mysterious body of killers, “The Fraternity,” on working with Bekmambetov and co-star James McAvoy, and catch a glimpse of a few of Wanted‘s most audacious action scenes.

Wanted hits theaters next Friday, June 27.

RT’s nabbed the exclusive new trailer for Wanted, Universal’s high-octane assassin thriller starring Angelina Jolie and James McAvoy. And if you’re a fan of the Russian fantasy-horror Night Watch trilogy, you have even more reason to get excited.

If you’ve seen any of Timur Bekmanbetov‘s Night Watch movies (part three, Twilight Watch, is supposedly in production) then you should feel an instant familiarity with the new trailer for Wanted, Bekmanbetov’s English-language and Hollywood debut. Adapted from a limited-run comic book series by Mark Millar, Wanted is about a bookish young man (James McAvoy) who discovers that his late father was a super assassin and that he is next to join the ranks of a secret society of killers with superpowers led by Morgan Freeman and Angelina Jolie.

Wanted Angelina Jolie
Click for more Wanted images.

RT scored the exclusive new trailer for Wanted today (watch it here!), which should spark even more interest than when the first trailer and images (and those pics of Angelina Jolie’s fake tattooes) hit.

This new trailer goes way further to show us all the visual tricks and adrenaline-rush action that Bekmanbetov brings to the table. The aforementioned Night Watch and Day Watch films, box office record breakers in Russia, were awe-inspiring feats of special effects and invention similarly about a secret society of superpowered folk, some good and some evil, doing battle surreptitiously on the streets of modern-day Russia.


Wanted Angelina Jolie

Day Watch

An image from Bekmanbetov’s Wanted; an image from Day Watch.

Curious additional parallels abound between Wanted and Night/Day Watch: deadly battles between good and evil; superhuman characters living among the regular world; a male protagonist who stumbles into it all and discovers his own potential. Further, Bekmanbetov’s cinematic flair in this second Wanted trailer — high-speed chases, onscreen action that bends the laws of physics, clever displays like Jolie hanging out of a speeding car, driving with her foot and McAvoy “bending” a bullet — should strike a note of recognition with fans of his horror-fantasy work. Bekmanbetov reportedly made both Night Watch and Day Watch for roughly $4 million each; it should be interesting to see what he can do with a Hollywood cast and a budget more than ten times that — $50 million, to be exact.

Watch the second trailer for Wanted here to see for yourself; the pic hits theaters June 27.

Writer/directors Michael Brandt and Derek Haas had to go into production on Wanted before the comic book had even picked up steam. With only two issues published, the writers came up with their own story based on the set up.

“The first two issues were pretty much act one,” said Haas. “The first two issues were a great set up, the first two issues of the comic. Then it went in a different direction than what we took the film.”

The story of a loser drafted by assassins who believe he has his father’s talents, the movie is action packed adventure, but not comic book-y. “Our take on the material was big, but not big like the comic book,” said Brandt. “The comic book took it to crazy heights with superheroes and we kept ours kind of grounded into today’s world so you could actually believe that it could take place in today’s world.”

Haas still promises hard action. “We really want to make a hard R movie,” said Haas. “To the studio’s credit, all the way through they said, ‘Do it. Keep that same tone’. And then when they cast Angelina [Jolie], Morgan Freeman and James McAvoy we thought, ‘Oh here it comes. Here comes the PG-13, got to have the broadest audience possible.’ But, no. The whole time they said keep it the same way so that’s the movie they shot.”

Wanted is due March 28, 2008 and will be the English language Hollywood debut of Night Watch director Timur Bekmambetov.


Ah, Edinburgh, a city known for contrast, vibrancy, comedy, castles and, for a couple of weeks in August, a little congestion. You see, the Edinburgh International Film Festival competes with the infamous Fringe comedy festival, as well as half a dozen other festivals, and no-doubt a couple of weddings and a stag do. Hotel rooms are as scarce as A-listers from the film and comedy world are abundant and restaurants are practicing their, “I’m sorry sir, you should have booked in February,” routine.

Edinburgh Castle

The festival has, in the past, played home to the world premiere of Serenity and the European first-show for Clerks II. Its programme is open to the public, and provides a wide variety of home-grown, European, American and international cinema. This festival sees two of the freshest movies of the year from the US play to UK audiences for the first time – Knocked Up and Ratatouille and they’re joined by the indie likes of Hallam Foe and French warbler Les Chansons d’Amour.

In short, there’s something for everyone of every age, gender and nationality, and it’s probably one of the most relaxed and, in turn, exciting festivals on the calendar. It’s also a good place to start or join in that ever-exciting early awards buzz, and with that in mind we thought it’d be a good idea to let you know what we and the critics think of the films on display so you can add them to your wish-list.

So without further ado we present, in no particular order, our fifteen favourites of the festival. We’ve gathered quotes from the Tomatometer and our critic friends too to spotlight the cream of the cinematic crop as chosen by our international pool of critics and ourselves respectively.

THE BEST OF BRITISH
Five films that represent the best the UK has to offer at the Edinburgh Film Festival – whether produced in the UK, directed by British talent or starring British actors.

Hallam Foe – dir. David Mackenzie

Hallam Foe

You may remember director David Mackenzie‘s previous films, Young Adam and Asylum, with respective Tomatometers favouring fresh and rotten. In the eyes of the critics we’ve spoken to, and this dashing RT-UK editor, Hallam Foe looks set to do away with any doubts and land firmly as one of the year’s freshest.

Being the tale of a rather strange teenager, the titular Hallam, who escapes a devilish stepmother for the lofty heights of Edinburgh and falls in love with a woman who’s the spitting image of his mother, the oedipal tale is at turns hilarious and heart-rending. As is Mackenzie’s wont, it’s about real people with unique lives and as a coming-of-age drama there is none finer. Its depiction of this festival’s host city, Edinburgh, isn’t troubled by big-screen sheen – this is the real Edinburgh, and it’s beautiful.

Bell and Myles are outstanding, and Claire Forlani reaches a level of wicked sadism that only Claire Forlani could accomplish and still have you falling madly in love with her. It’s quirky, but not so quirky that it becomes ridiculous, and it’s probably one of the finest films you’ll see this year.

“Affirms the raw talents of both David Mackenzie and Jamie Bell (who’s come a long way since Billy Elliot).”
Rich Cline, SHADOWS ON THE WALL

“An intriguing rites-of-passage story with a delirious, skewed perspective and an almost palpable sexual pulse.”
Damon Wise, EMPIRE MAGAZINE

Stardust – dir. Matthew Vaughn

Stardust

We first experienced a sprinkle of Stardust courtesy of director Matthew Vaughn‘s invitation to the edit suite and while we loved what we saw we were curious to see if the film could maintain the pitch of the footage for its entire runtime. Having taken two trips to see the unfinished version, we’d say we’re fairly enthusiastic about the results.

Based on the novel by Neil Gaiman (to settle the argument before it starts, it began life as an illustrated novel before being published without the illustrations), Stardust follows young Tristan Thorn (newcomer Charlie Cox) as he journeys across “the wall” into a magical land in quest of a falling star to retrieve for the beautiful Victoria (Sienna Miller) in exchange for her hand in marriage. When he discovers the star is actually a young woman (Claire Danes), they begin a quest back home and, along the way, are pursued by a handsome prince (Mark Strong), a wicked witch (Michelle Pfeiffer) and a devilish pirate (Robert De Niro), all of whom have their own designs on the star.

And if that cast list isn’t enough to woo you, pray silence as we barrage you with Peter O’Toole, Ian McKellen, Mark Williams, Ricky Gervais, David Walliams and Rupert Everett.

And we have a Princess Bride fan in the office who’s convinced he’s found a movie to rival his classic. You can start queuing now.

“With its heart worn proudly on its sleeve, it’s one of the best date movies of the year, a compatibility litmus test for starry-eyed romantics.”
Kevin Crust, LOS ANGELES TIMES

“The antic spirit of The Princess Bride looms large over Stardust, creatively adapted from Neil Gaiman’s much more sober 1998 graphic novel. That’s probably a good call.”
Joshua Rothkopf, TIME OUT NEW YORK

WAZ – dir. Tom Shankland

Waz

On paper WAZ (the A is actually a Delta symbol so it’s pronounced Was or W-Delta-Z depending on the mood you’re in) looks like every other torture porn movie cluttering cinemas at the moment. But to lump it in with Saw and Hostel would be to do it a disservice, because this debut feature from director Tom Shankland is much more inventive.

Detective Eddie Argo and his new partner, Helen Westcott, begin investigating a series of grisly murders with one thing in common; a mathematical equation has been carved into each of the victims. When they learn that the equation – the WAZ of the title is a part of it – is designed to test altruism, and that the victims are being offed in pairs, forced to kill each other to “save” themselves, the case turns even nastier, and as Westcott gets to know her new precinct she’s seeing things that don’t add up in the police department’s handling of previous cases.

Set in New York but filmed, predominantly, in Belfast, with a cast that includes a Swede, an Australian and a Brit, the accents are a touch on the unpredictable side, but stirring performances from Stellan Skarsgard, Melissa George, Ashley Walters and Selma Blair make you forget those troubles, and the film creates a visually arresting universe and ramping tension that keep you glued to the screen.

“Director Tom Shankland launches himself into the industry with a fierce sense of style and energy to spare.”
Rich Cline, SHADOWS ON THE WALL

WAZ distastefully delivers.”
Derek Elley, VARIETY

Sugarhouse – dir. Gary Love

Sugarhouse

Lest you think we have a thing for Ashley Walters, it’s worth pointing out that Sugarhouse and WAZ mark genuinely impressive turns by the young actor following his stunning breakthrough in Bullet Boy. We’d make some sort of So Solid Career pun but that’d be annoying.

Sugarhouse, another debut film this time from director Gary Love, is a smarter kind of Brit gangster flick. Walters is crackhead D who is looking to sell a gun to Steven Mackintosh’s city worker. D’s motives are money, his client’s are revenge. But there’s a third in the form of Andy Serkis as this year’s most terrifying baddie, Hoodwink. The gun’s his and he’s damn sure not going to let D sell it on.

Based on a play, Sugarhouse is decidedly intimate, most of the action collected around D’s crack den, and its sense of realism – lacking in the works of Guy Ritchie and Matthew Vaughn – is refreshing. It’s not about effing and blinding, it’s about the seedier side of life.

“Despite thin caricatures and dodgy dialogue, this still stands out on the street.”
Kat Brown, EMPIRE MAGAZINE

“Andy Serkis delivers a performance that makes his turn as King Kong look like Johnny Vegas’s knitted monkey sidekick.”
Stella Papamichael, BBC

Control – dir. Anton Corbijn

Control

Starring Sam Riley, Samantha Morton, Craig Parkinson and Alexandra Maria Lara

Anton Corbijn‘s Control captivated audiences upon its Cannes debut earlier this year, and with good reason; the biopic of Joy Division’s late lead singer, Ian Curtis, delivers a somber but beautiful glimpse into the life of the tortured musician that should enrich fans of the Manchester band and move the uninitiated in comparable measure.

Shot in gorgeously stark black and white monochrome, Control follows Curtis (Sam Riley), a sensitive working-class daydreamer in 1970s England, as he falls into the role of lead singer for a local band. That band, of course, soon becomes post-punk legend Joy Division; the lads sign a record deal, go on tour, and get big. But life gets in the way of fame for Curtis, and the demands of his budding fame – a young wife (Samantha Morton) and child, and a new girlfriend (Alexandra Maria Lara) on the side – paired with recurring epileptic seizures that render him helpless sometimes mid-concert, become too much for him to juggle.

With its pulsating score (all songs performed, and well, by the actors themselves) and a transcendent central performance by Curtis doppelganger Riley, Control paints a sensitive portrait of a tragic artist whose legacy lived on for decades after his untimely death at the age of 23.

“Corbijn has done his research during 30 years as a photographer, striking a realistic balance between farce and tragedy.”
Stephen Dalton, THE TIMES

“Somber, sad and compelling.”
Russell Edwards, VARIETY

THE BEST OF THE US
We cross the Atlantic (figuratively) to take a look at the five top films playing in Edinburgh from the US of A.

In the Shadow of the Moon – dir. David Sington

In the Shadow of the Moon

Featuring Buzz Aldrin, Alan Bean, Michael Collins and Jim Lovell

Theory: There’s nothing more exciting than listening to the former astronauts for the Apollo missions tell their tales of visiting the lunar surface. Except perhaps being one of them. Yes, David Sington‘s In the Shadow of the Moon is a little heavy on the America-the-Great, but it’s also one of the best documentaries of the year; a fascinating portrait of men so brave that most regular Joes couldn’t possible comprehend their journey.

And, to its credit, it allows them to get on with it – there’s no narrator – we’re just shown fascinating footage from the moon’s surface, from the launch pad, from the shuttle, and in between these men tell us their story.

For the real space-junkies, there’s doubtless little in here to learn, but for the rest of us the film is full of fascinating factoids and, like the best movies set in space – fictional or not – it’ll leave you feeling smaller than the smallest needle in the biggest haystack.

“The excitement, majesty and extraordinary human accomplishment of the American lunar program of the ’60s and early ’70s is rousingly captured in In the Shadow of the Moon.”
Todd McCarthy, VARIETY

“This exquisite documentary about the Apollo program takes the magic of moon flight and miraculously makes it downright down-to-Earth.”
Frank Lovece, FILM JOURNAL INTERNATIONAL

Ratatouille – dir. Brad Bird

Ratatouille

Starring Patton Oswalt, Ian Holm, Lou Romano and Peter O’Toole

Films about rats, it seems, don’t tend to go down well with the squeamish movie-going public. That’s just about the only way to explain the poorer-than-expected box office returns for the gem that is Ratatouille. Of course, we’re not talking bomb here – it’s currently sitting at around $300m so they won’t be remortgaging – but it’s a surprise considering it’s one of Pixar’s finest movies in a crop of fine movies.

The project, about a gastronomic rat named Remy who finds himself the sous-sous-chef at a posh restaurant, has a troubled history; original director Jan Pinkava was replaced by Brad Bird with barely a year of the seven-year development time left on the clock. Pinkava left Pixar and has “no comment” on the whole affair, but given last year’s troubled Cars the tabloid tales have knocked a little of the sheen from Pixar.

Fortunately the film – credit to Bird and Pinkava – is astonishing and more than settles any doubts about the affair affecting the movie. As is traditional with Pixar, the actors are chosen because they’re right for their characters and the film’s visuals shame every other CG movie released this year. Bring on Wall-E.

“Displaying the usual meticulousness associated with the Pixar brand, Ratatouille is a nearly flawless piece of popular art.”
A.O. Scott, NEW YORK TIMES

“A film as rich as a sauce béarnaise, as refreshing as a raspberry sorbet, and a lot less predictable than the damn food metaphors and adjectives all us critics will churn out to describe it. OK, one more and then I’ll be done: it’s yummy.”
David Ansen, NEWSWEEK

Death Proof – dir. Quentin Tarantino

Death Proof

Caught up in this year’s Grindhouse scandal – Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez made two back-to-back flicks to be put out as one and then no-one in America went to see them – Death Proof is the Weinstein Company’s first attempt at recouping some of the expense internationally. It’s Tarantino’s half, which means lots of talking, lots of references to classic pop-culture, and plenty of hot women with well-manicured feet.

The film follows Stuntman Mike (Kurt Russell) as he crosses country to do damage to a bevy of beauties in his “death proof” car – he can crash it at any speed and live to tell the tale. So we first meet Jungle Julia (Sydney Poitier) and her posse (Vanessa Ferlito, Jordan Ladd and, notsomuch, Rose McGowan) before the film shifts state and introduces us to stuntgirls Tracie Thoms and Zoe Bell (who was Uma’s stunt-double on Kill Bill and their friends Mary Elizabeth Winstead and Rosario Dawson.

But it’s not so much about the story or the characters as it is about the Tarantino dialogue, the homages to seventies B-movies and the fake film grain added to make it look like the print has been kicked around a bit. One segment is even in black-and-white suggesting it’s not even a complete print and the missing reel has been substituted with one from a black-and-white version of the film.

Death Proof, the standalone, replaces a title card pointing to a missing reel in the Grindhouse version with the full version, a seedy lap dance from Ferlito. And it’s steamy-hot but, of course, all the good frames have been ripped out – presumably stolen by projectionists as the print gathered dust. It’s all a very heart-warming reference to classic B cinema.

As a standalone, Death Proof is far more satisfying than it is as part of Grindhouse, though a scene with Michael Parks, while far too good to cut out, doesn’t working without the audience having seen Planet Terror. The irony is that, because Planet Terror builds to a crescendo ending and is followed by a film that takes a while to get going, Death Proof should have been the first part of Grindhouse and Planet Terror should have been the first to be released independently. Still, forgive the Weinstein mistakes and be sure you see Death Proof, even if you’re one of the lucky ones to have already seen Grindhouse.

“All the nutrition of a narcotic compound.”
James Rocchi, CINEMATICAL

“A beautiful piece of Americana. Stupid, and brilliant.”
– Alistair McKay, SCOTLAND ON SUNDAY

Knocked Up – dir. Judd Apatow

Knocked Up

There’s a reason this comedy – usually a tough genre with the critics – is currently sitting in the nineties on the Tomatometer; it’s genuinely that good. From The 40-Year-Old Virgin helmer Judd Apatow, Seth Rogen stars as a man whose one-night-stand turns into a twenty-year commitment when his beau, Katherine Heigl, turns up pregnant. Oops.

Perhaps the buzziest film of the year – an R-rated trailer first circulated virally ages ago – it’s a laugh-a-minute romp through hysterically inappropriate gags with Rogen chewing the scenery at every opportunity, and fantastic supporting performances from Paul Rudd and Alan Tudyk.

Keep an eye out for Jonah Hill – you’re about to hear his name a lot when Superbad hits cinemas – and be sure to bring the girlfriend. Knocked Up‘s real success is that it appeals to every demographic, with just the right mix of cheap laughs and heartfelt drama that both sexes will fall in love with it, and it’s loveable “hero”.

“A refreshingly frank, funny odd-couple comedy with engaging leads and too many belly laughs to count.”
Tom Charity, CNN.COM

“Apatow’s gleefully raunchy movies are, in an odd and charming way, extremely family-friendly.”
Joe Leydon, VARIETY

Paranoid Park – dir. Gus van Sant

Paranoid Park

Starring Gabe Nevins, Taylor Momsen, Daniel Liu and Dillon Hines

Gus van Sant is fascinated with adolescence, and his fascination has thrown out some deeply meditative films in the last few years. From his Cannes triumph Elephant, through Last Days and now Paranoid Park, van Sant’s stoic trilogy is a labour of love that seems to shun convention at every turn.

While Last Days, ostensibly a biopic of the final hours of Kurt Cobain, and Elephant, about high-school serial killers, have courted controversy, Paranoid Park plays things decidedly safer, adapting Blake Nelson’s novel about a skater boy who accidentally kills a security guard while venturing out-of-bounds on Portland’s rail network.

And because it’s safer it’s also probably his most accessible of the three – Elephant and Last Days did little until their powerful endings while Paranoid Park first introduces us to Alex (played by newcomer Gave Nevins) before exploring how the accident affects his life.

The film looks beautiful and is rather unconventionally shot in the square 4:3 aspect ratio, while 8mm cutaways punctuate the film gracefully. It’s a testament to van Sant’s ability that he can say so much by doing so little; you could collect the film’s dialogue on a postage stamp.

“Van Sant has composed an emotional mosaic that brings you inside Alex.”
Kirk Honeycutt, HOLLYWOOD REPORTER

“Bears some similarities with Elephant. A similarly photogenic teen milieu is shot with fluid, graceful camerawork; a non-linear structure slots together like a puzzle to reveal the panicked mindset of a boy under agreat deal of stress.”
Wendy Ide, THE TIMES

THE BEST OF THE REST
Of course, Edinburgh is about more than British and American movies – here we take a look at some top titles from the rest of the world, as well as a few British and American flicks that we couldn’t quite squeeze into the first two categories.

Day Watch – dir. Timur Bekmambetov

Day Watch

Starring Konstantin Khabensky, Mariya Poroshina, Aleksei Chadov and Dima Martynov

Timur Bekmambetov‘s follow-up to his masterful Night Watch – a film which came out of left field from Russia and gave Hollywood a run for its money – is possibly even less accessible than its predecessor. Day Watch cuts straight into the universe, grabbing its audience by the lapels and forcing us to remind ourselves of the story so far.

It’s also decidedly more heartfelt than Night Watch; Khabensky’s Anton wrestling with a son who’s deserted him for the Day Watch and his responsibilities to his unit. The line Anton walks is blurrier than anything to come out of the big American studios, and it’s refreshing to see a little ambiguity.

Jeannette Catsoulis says it best in the New York Times. Day Watch “dazzles and confuses with equal determination.”

“Spectaculars don’t come much more bombastic than this goth-Russian supernatural epic.”
Colin Covert, MINNEAPOLIS STAR TRIBUNE

“The filmmakers destroy Moscow with the same glee that Godzilla has in stomping Tokyo. Even though Day Watch is probably a good 20 minutes too long, it’s easy to forgive its excesses because Bekmambetov just seems to be having so much fun.”
Beth Accomando, KPBS.ORG

A Mighty Heart – dir. Michael Winterbottom

A Mighty Heart

When A Mighty Heart was first announced the reaction seemed to be shock – Angelina Jolie as a black woman? But it’s the story here that has the power, and her fine performance ensures nothing else matters.

Still, it’s an odd project to see Michael Winterbottom direct. Considering he’s recently crafted films as varied as Road to Guantanamo, A Cock and Bull Story and, erm, 9 Songs we should be long past the point of surprise when it comes to the projects he works on, and yet who could have foreseen him direct Angelina Jolie in a film produced by Brad Pitt?

Nevertheless, it wowed critics in Cannes and sent doubters – both from camps Jolie-isn’t-black and Winterbottom-doesn’t-do-Jolie – running. It’s a Winterbottom film through-and-through and the smart turns of the supporting cast – including Dan Futterman and Irfan Khan – make an impressive film even more impressive.

“The director’s rapid-fire and choppy editing gives you a genuine feel for the many different sides of Karachi, and the urgency of the investigation.”
James Christopher, THE TIMES

“What is best about A Mighty Heart is that it doesn’t reduce the Daniel Pearl story to a plot, but elevates it to a tragedy.”
Roger Ebert, CHICAGO SUN-TIMES

Weirdsville – dir. Allan Moyle

Weirdsville

Allan Moyle‘s Weirdsville imagines a scenario that defines the term, “bad day.” When Royce and Dexter find the latter’s dead girlfriend following an overdose, it’s a simple trip to a seedy basement to bury the evidence. Only a group of satan-worshipping ne’er-do-wells happen to be doing their own ill deeds at the same time. And when the girlfriend can’t stay dead it seems like nothing is going to go their way.

What follows is nothing short of riotous as the pair of hapless losers beg, steal and borrow their way to morning. Moyle, whose last big hit was 1995’s Empire Records serves up a devilishly intriguing black comedy that keeps you on tenterhooks ’til the end. Weirdsville may well be another cult classic in the making.

Wes Bentley and Scott Speedman are brilliant as Royce and Dexter, while support from some cultists, a dead girlfriend, a bunch of drug dealers and a midget security guard keep them on their toes throughout.

“A cleverly constructed, capably crafted and often uproarious shaggy-dog black comedy.”
Joe Leydon, VARIETY

“So much gonzo enthusiasm that it’s impossible not to enjoy watching these crazed characters bounce off of each other.”
Rich Cline, SHADOWS ON THE WALL

Two Days in Paris – dir. Julie Delpy

Two Days in Paris

It’s rather fitting that actress Julie Delpy’s feature film debut would be Two Days in Paris. You can imagine the financiers meetings as she explained that it was about a couple, a French girl and an American boy, and their brief stay in the City of Love. The dollar signs in their eyes are as clear as day.

And it’s with a brilliantly witty sense of irony that we behold the end result. If Before Sunset is one of the most romantic movies ever set in the French capital, its female lead has gone on to deliver one of the most unromantic. The culture clash is the source of much comedy between Delpy and the brilliantly on-form Adam Goldberg, but if Sunset is about how communication can reignite a relationship, Days is about how misreading it can be disastrous.

It’s not very often a journalist will imply that watching a film is like witnessing a car crash powerless to do anything and mean that as a compliment, but in this case it’s definitely fitting. Two Days in Paris marks Delpy as a director to watch and its sharp wit will leave it resonating with anyone who’s ever found even the slightest fault in their partner.

“Julie Delpy’s and Adam Goldberg’s performances are so assured and spontaneous that they don’t even seem to be acting.”
Stephen Holden, NEW YORK TIMES

“[Delpy has] created two original, quirky characters so obsessed with their differences that Paris is almost a distraction. I don’t think I heard a single accordion in the whole film.”
Roger Ebert, CHICAGO SUN-TIMES

Rocket Science – dir. Jeffrey Blitz

Rocket Science

Jeffrey Blitz first examined kids under the stress of hormones and intellectual competition in documentary form with Spellbound. With Rocket Science he this time spins a fictional yarn, but it nevertheless still manages to capture the real emotional minefield that is adolescence.

Hal Heffner’s stutter is incurable by any therapist-recommended treatment, but when he meets Ginny Ryerson and she introduces him to the world of high school debating, he finds a project to immerse himself in; one that, he’s sure, will rid him of his impediment. But when Ginny starts playing truant from their meetings and the stress of his parents’ divorce begins to take its toll he wanders whether getting even is preferable to getting mad. Enlisting the help of former debating champion Ben Wekselbaum, he becomes determined to beat his former tutor at her own game.

Reece Thompson’s nuanced performance as Hal betrays a talent beyond his age and Anna Kendrick’s Ginny is as beguiling as she is infuriating. It’s these two key performances that cement the emotional core of a film that succeeds through subtlety without ever having to hold back from its comedy. It’s certainly not the first quirky American indie to release, and its quirk threatens to alienate audiences who believe they’re tired of that sort of thing. Rocket Science matches its quirk with real emotional truth and that’s enough to separate it from the herd.

“It may gross as little as Welcome to the Dollhouse or as much as Clueless, but whichever it does, it’s in the same league.”
Roger Ebert, CHICAGO SUN-TIMES

“A fiercely personal and yet engaging–and often outright hysterical–look into a young man on the brink of adulthood.”
Rich Cline, SHADOWS ON THE WALL

Check the website for more details about the festival and use the links below to find out more about the movies, directors and stars referenced within!

Call it the weekend of the actor/producer. Three new films with stars that do double duty behind the scenes (or have good agents that can snag a free credit) enter a marketplace filled with big-budget tentpole pics quickly eroding away.

Seth Rogen headlines and executive produces the new comedy "Knocked Up," Kevin Costner stars and produces the crime thriller "Mr. Brooks," and Elisabeth Shue acts in and co-produces the sports drama "Gracie." Following an explosive May at the box office, the first weekend of June should see ticket sales calm down a bit before George and Brad usher in the next big wave of sequels.

For adult moviegoers sick of pirates, ogres, and webslingers, Universal has the answer – the raunchy romantic comedy "Knocked Up." The R-rated film from Judd Apatow ("The 40-Year-Old Virgin") stars Rogen and Katherine Heigl as a stoner loser and a just-promoted entertainment newswoman, respectively, who share a one night stand which leads to an unplanned pregnancy. Older teens, young adults, and couples make up the target audience here and the studio is hoping to bring back the same folks that opened "Virgin" to $21.4M on its way to a stellar $109.3M (five times its debut) two summers ago.

With mindless popcorn sequels dominating the marquees for the past month, "Knocked Up" brings a breath of fresh air into the multiplexes. Moviegoers looking for new characters and new situations will be pleased. The marketing push has been strong but television spots are not too funny, mostly because the bulk of the humor is too racy to feature on broadcast television. But when opening weekend audiences find out how much funnier the actual film is compared to the trailer and commercials, red hot word-of-mouth will keep the pic playing week after week.

The public’s appetite for studio comedies has been healthy over the last six months with "Wild Hogs," "Night at the Museum," "Blades of Glory," and "Norbit" selling an amazing $626M worth of ticket stubs combined. "Hogs" even popped back into the top ten last weekend in its thirteenth session signaling the hunger in the marketplace right now for something good that will make people laugh. Universal enjoys going after adults on the weekend after Memorial Day. In 2005 it debuted the serious Russell CroweRenee Zellweger boxing pic "Cinderella Man" to $18.3M while last year the studio exceeded expectations with the $39.2M bow of the date flick "The Break-Up." "Knocked Up" should play to much of the same audience as the Jennifer Aniston film, although with less starpower and no tabloid gossip about the star’s personal lives, the grosses won’t soar as high.

Critics have been praising "Knocked Up" and its strong cross-gender appeal will make it a hit with the date crowd. A unique concept and a great title will also help sell the film. "Pirates" will only be in its second weekend and will still be pulling in a broad audience so there will be some competition. But "Knocked Up" has great buzz and will start selling itself after people begin pouring out of the Friday night shows. Opening in 2,873 theaters, the Universal release may gross about $24M this weekend and witness small declines in the weeks ahead.


"Yay, pregnancy."

Less than a year after co-starring with Ashton Kutcher in "The Guardian," Kevin Costner teams up with the "Punk’d" star’s gal pal Demi Moore in the new psychological thriller "Mr. Brooks." In the R-rated film, the former bodyguard plays a family man who moonlights as a serial killer while the ex-G.I. Jane stars as a detective hot on his trail. The MGM release should play to the oldest audience of any major release out now. That’s a good thing since direct competition will not be too fierce. But despite some moderately good reviews, Brooks is anchored by two aging actors who were bulletproof box office stars fifteen years ago, but are not all that reliable at the turnstiles nowadays.

"Knocked Up" has much more buzz around it and will take away much of the thirtysomething crowd, but the forty-plus audience might give "Mr. Brooks" a try. Older adults did little for "Georgia Rule" which bowed to just $6.8M but April’s "Fracture" had a decent $11M opening. Costner should draw an audience more like the one that came out for the Anthony Hopkins thriller. The marketing push has not been too forceful so a large turnout is not likely. Invading 2,453 theaters, "Mr. Brooks" may generate a $9M debut.


Where Dane Cook gets his career advice.

Picturehouse targets the Lady Foot Locker crowd with its new drama "Gracie" which tells the true story of a teenage girl in the late 1970s who fought to play competitive soccer when the sport did not open its doors to her gender. The PG-13 flick stars Dermot Mulroney, Elisabeth Shue, and Carly Schroeder and has been marketed squarely to its core audience of teenage girls. "Gracie" is unlikely to score any goals with other audience segments and is not being released in too many theaters so a modest opening is likely. Reviews have been mixed. Kicking its way into about 1,000 locations, "Gracie" might find itself with an opening weekend take of around $3M.


The mullet-headed heckler is always an important training component.

Fox Searchlight invades the arthouses once again with its Russian fantasy epic "Day Watch," the sequel to Timur Bekmambetov‘s "Night Watch" which became a mammoth blockbuster in its home country in 2004. Last year, "Night Watch" bowed in the U.S. to a sturdy $35,475 average from only three theaters and eventually collected $1.5M from 158 sites. "Day Watch" continues the battle of Light vs. Darkness in an adventure set in Moscow with digital effects that could rival any $200M-budgeted Hollywood tentpole pic. The R-rated film debuts on Friday in New York and Los Angeles with two theaters in each city plus a solo house in San Francisco. More markets across the country will be added in the weeks ahead.


"Day Watch"

None of the newbies looks like first-place material so "Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End" should easily retain its box office crown. However, a substantial fall is likely. As a third part of a franchise coming off of a big holiday bow, the drop would of course be large. "Dead Man’s Chest" fell by 54% in its sophomore frame. Add in the fact that fan reaction isn’t exactly stellar and the ship should sink by a large amount. Don’t expect the latest "Pirates" to suffer the 67% crash that the third "X-Men" flick saw a year ago when it came off of the Memorial Day frame. Instead, it could perform more like 2004’s "The Day After Tomorrow" which fell 60% coming off of the same holiday weekend. Luckily for Johnny Depp and pals the competition is not too fierce this weekend. A similar 60% tumble would give "At World’s End" about $46M worth of weekend loot which would boost the ten-day cume to $218M.

"Shrek the Third" will also not have much in the way of competition for its family audience, but comedy fans will certainly abandon ship and head for "Knocked Up." The ogre franchise makes a sizable portion of its money from teens and young adults and those folks are going to be moving on. Last weekend’s 56% drop was affected by the arrival of "Pirates." This weekend, it could stabilize and fall by 45%. That would give "Shrek the Third" around $29M for the weekend and $256M after 17 days.

"Spider-Man 3," the only May threequel with the actual number three in its title, has also been fading away. A 45% drop would give the Sandman saga roughly $8M boosting the cume to $319M.

LAST YEAR: Jennifer Aniston and Vince Vaughn proved more popular than super heroes as their romantic comedy "The Break-Up" knocked "X-Men: The Last Stand" out of the number one spot in only its second weekend. The Universal comedy opened to $39.2M on its way to a better-than-expected $118.7M. The mutant sequel tumbled 67% to $34M in its sophomore frame for the runnerup position. Paramount’s toon sensation "Over the Hedge" held up well in third with $20.6M followed by "The Da Vinci Code" with $18.6M and "Mission: Impossible III" with $4.7M.

Author: Gitesh Pandya, www.BoxOfficeGuru.com

Morgan Freeman, Angelina Jolie and James McAvoy seem to be locked up for "Wanted," an assassination thriller based on a graphic novel by J.G. Jones and Mark Millar.

Timur Bekmambetov, of the "Night Watch" series, will be behind the helm when "Wanted" begins production this May in Eastern Europe. The screenplay adaptation comes from screenwriters Michael Brandt ("2 Fast 2 Furious") and Derek Haas ("Catch That Kid"), with a re-write by Jolie’s "Tomb Raider 2" pal Dean Georgaris.

The story’s about a guy who follows in his hitman father’s footsteps after the old man is, you guessed it, assassinated. McAvoy will be the killer-in-training; Jolie his mentor. Apparently Ms. Jolie’s character was a guy in the source material, but guys aren’t sexy. Angelina Jolie … is sexy.

Source: Variety

A pack of sled dogs brave the cold ("Eight Below"). A detective works on a case with potentially explosive ramifications ("Freedomland"). A movie parodies other movies ("Date Movie"). It’s this week’s wide releases!

Over the years, Disney has produced many adventures with animals struggling to survive in the harsh wild ("White Fang" comes to mind). And critics say "Eight Below," the story of a group of sled dogs who must brave the cold of Antarctica, carries on that proud tradition. Paul Walker stars in the based-on-a-true-story of a guide who must take a visiting researcher across a particularly perilous stretch of territory. The scribes say this is more than just a shaggy-dog story; it’s infused with a real sense of drama and some of the warmest canine thespians ever to grace the silver screen. It’s Mr. Walker’s best reviewed film since "Pleasantville" (86 percent on the Tomatometer), and his best in a leading role. At 82 percent, "Eight Below" proves that every dog has its day. And "Eight Below" is not only Certified Fresh, is also the best-reviewed wide release of the year, besting a pair of family films, "Nanny McPhee" (75 percent) and "Curious George" (72 percent).

Sometimes the noblest of intentions can make for the clumsiest of films. Case in point: "Freedomland," a drama that delves into the thorny issue of race relations after a white woman dubiously claims she has been carjacked and her child kidnapped in a largely African American housing project. Critics say the film features perhaps the weakest performances in the distinguished careers of Samuel L. Jackson and Julianne Moore, and the script lacks the nuances that should give the film its emotional punch. (Strange, since Richard Price, the screenwriter, also penned the source novel for Spike Lee’s "Clockers," a deft mixture of police procedural and social issues. It’s at 75 percent on the Tomatometer.) At 16 percent on the Tomatometer, "Freedomland" may not be worth a visit.

Like someone on who has a stunning picture on the Internet personals but looks a lot different in person, "Date Movie" claims to be a comedy, but, since it wasn’t screened for critics, we’re guessing it may be a little short on laughs. (Here’s a hint, in love as in cinema: just be honest!) So, kids, it’s time for the funnest game since Spin the Bottle: Guess the Tomatometer! The closest guess wins a date with Critical Consensus. Or at least some props.

The Best Reviewed Wide Releases of 2006:
—————————————————–
75% — Nanny McPhee (2006)
72% — Curious George (2006)
64% — Something New (2006)
58% — Hostel (2006)
57% — Glory Road (2006)

Notable Movies About Dogs in the Wild:
——————————-
22% — Snow Dogs (2002)
67% — Lassie (1994)
75% — Homeward Bound- The Incredible Journey (1993)
82% — White Fang (1991)
86% — Benji (1974)

Recent Films Not Screened For Critics:
———————————————-
10% — When a Stranger Calls (2006)
16% — Underworold: Evolution (2006)
7% — BloodRayne (2006)
15% — Grandma’s Boy (2006)
12% — Aeon Flux (2005)

Our WonderCon Wrap-Up continues, with a look at a few of the lesser-known flicks presented last weekend: "Brick," "Night Watch," and "Pathfinder."

Saturday’s panels began sadly, with the news that Joseph Gordon-Levitt would be a no-show to present his indie-teen-film noir, "Brick." The trailer screened anyway — intriguing, mysterious — but was no different than the trailer we’ve already seen. Happily, one additional scene played (the opening few moments of the film) which introduces the main character, Brendan (Gordon-Levitt) as he mournfully surveys the body of his ex-girlfriend (Emilie de Ravin), then flashes back two days prior to her terrified, cryptic phone call to him in suburban Southern California.

Thankfully, we won’t have to wait long to see more of "Brick," as this Sundance 2005 favorite will be released March 24. Click here to see the "Brick" trailer and judge for yourself.

Next, a presentation of "Night Watch," the first of Russian good vs. evil trilogy set in modern day Moscow, kicked off the day with a treat: we would get to see the entire movie! That it was almost completely in super fast-forward hardly mattered; the dark, gritty urban epic wowed the crowd with eerie visuals and a few super cool real-time action moments. "Night Watch" opens in limited release in a few days, on February 17. Check out the "Night Watch" trailer, here — or watch the entire film in fast forward, here!

Director Marcus Nispel (2003’s "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre") came out to talk about his new project, "Pathfinder." Not many people know much about "Pathfinder" yet, but Nispel’s enthusiasm if not his resume comes across as a compelling reason to watch for it. Starring Karl Urban, Russell Means and Clancy Brown, "Pathfinder" tells the story of a Viking boy left behind in North America by his marauding people, who grows up among the native Indians and leads them in battle when the Vikings return to pillage again. There’s action, there’s romance, and there’s loincloths.

Nispel’s got a background in painting and graphic novels, and it shows; in the trailer as well as a set of impressive storyboards he showed at WonderCon, there is a visual richness to the composition of his scenes; whether he can pull it together from scene to scene will remain to be seen.

What was most interesting was Nispel’s discussion of the sensitive nature of his film. Set around the year 900 A.D., his fictional telling of a Viking-Native American confrontation seems to have been lent historical weight with recent scientific revelations that the Viking peoples did reach areas of the Americas at a time when they very well could have encountered native peoples. Also adding some degree of credibility to his production is Native American actor Russell Means, whom Nispel says provided a supporting role onscreen as well as offscreen; Means is not only an actor, but a well-known face of Native American activism and often acted as a consultant on the project.

And lest I forget, Nispel treated the audience to another special "clip" — a behind-the-scenes look at Nispel on set, directing, living out of a suitcase, and, yes, dropping trou to get a vitamin B shot in the backside. For this alone I will remember the name Nispel.

At long last, here’s my report on the filmmaker panels, "exclusive" clips, and the geek couture show that is WonderCon!

I’ll admit this first: I’m not geek enough to go to WonderCon for all three days; instead, I hit up the crowded Moscone Center West on Saturday, which of course is the best, most action-packed day of the entire convention. I quickly perused the swarming aisles of the exhibitor hall — comic book collectors in search of a rare issue, fans filling their sketch books with favorite artists, gawkers oohing over cos-players dressed as Blade, Wolverine, anime girls, and even the Alien from "Alien" — before beating a hasty retreat upstairs to grab a seat for the day’s line-up of movie panels.

Check back soon for installments of my day at WonderCon, which included presentations and panels for the big pics ("Superman Returns," "Mission: Impossible III"), the family flicks ("Ice Age 2: The Meltdown," "Cars"), high potential thrillers ("Night Watch," "Pathfinder") and scary chillers ("The Omen," "The Hills Have Eyes," "Silent Hill").

Lest you get antsy, here’s a selection of the fantastic costumes seen by some (but contrary to popular opinion, not all) of the attendees at WonderCon:

Storm Troopers (of course)

Storm Trooper Elvis (Unfortunately he’d left the building before I could snap a pic)

Every other character from Star Wars, ever

Blade

Wolverine (with real adamantium claws)

The Alien (from "Alien")

Buddy Christ

And also:

Serenity’s Browncoats
Inuyasha
Lara Croft
Resident Evil goons
Nightcrawler
Some guy in a leather dog suit
Full body furries
Cat girl (with a real freaky cat face)

If you’re in the San Francisco Bay Area this weekend and in the mood for, say, a Q & A with Superman Returns director Bryan Singer or exclusive footage of Mission: Impossible III from the hands of J.J. Abrams himself, you need to stop by the 20th annual WonderCon.In addition to the legions of comic book fans that converge each year to meet their favorite artists and pore over bins of comics looking for a mint condition Amazing Fantasy #15, WonderCon attendees are increasingly coming to the Moscone Center for movie sneak peeks and previews. From Q & A sessions with filmmakers to the staple preview show, Trailer Park 2006, there’s plenty of movie events here to whet your appetite for the big flicks of 2006. Check out the highlights below.

Superman Returns presentation by Bryan Singer (Q & A and exclusive footage, plus the program promises a "surprise")

Mission: Impossible III presentation by J.J. Abrams (Q & A and exclusive footage)

Brick presentation with star Joseph Gordon-Levitt

Q & A with Kevin Smith

The Hills Have Eyes presentation with Wes Craven and stars Aaron Stanford and Vinessa Shaw

Night Watch sneak peek

Pixar 20th anniversary and Cars preview

Silent Hill presentation by star Deborah Kara Unger

The Omen footage presented by director John Moore

Pathfinder presentation by director Marcus Nispel

2006 Sci-fi/Horror Movie Preview, including Room 6 and The Thirst

Advance screening of Running Scared (Q & A afterwards with Paul Walker and Wayne Kramer)

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