Every year I enjoy snuggling up and watching spooky movies when the fall chill hits the air. There are a lot of new movies available this season, but not all of them are exciting.
On Amazon Prime, Totally Killer combines a slasher film with a time travel story as Jamie Hughes (Kiernan Shipka) returns to 1987 to stop the Sweet Sixteen Killer from killing a group of popular girls who call themselves “Molly” ( in honor of Molly Ringwald: Pam (Olivia Holt), Tiffany (Liana Liberato), Marisa (Stephy Chin-Salvo) and Heather (Anna Diaz). With the help of the brilliant Lauren Creston (Tori L. Johnson), Jamie tries not to disrupt the timeline so much that she is never born or is killed herself. Julie Bowen also gives a wonderful performance as Jamie’s mom.
Putting aside the huge discrepancies in how old Jamie should be given the ages and dates given, Totally Killer is a fun mix of Back to the Future, Scream and Happy Death Day. The story combines slasher thrills, enough sci-fi to justify time travel, and teen movie drama. I would have liked more of an infusion of John Hughes to further emphasize the period element. Jamie comments on how unemotional teenagers in the 1980s are, but I don’t think the movie uses the 80s for enough entertainment.
Totally Killer has an interesting mystery, fun gameplay, and enough plot twists that I was willing to suspend a lot of disbelief.
“Totally Killer” was written by David Matalon, Sasha Pearl-Raver and Jen D’Angelo and directed by Nanachka Khan. It runs 106 minutes and is rated R.
On Hulu, No One Can Save You tells the alien invasion story of Brynn (Kaitlyn Dever), a young woman who is ostracized in her small town after a tragic event in her past. Brynn spends her days isolated in an old house so beautiful that I might be willing to be abducted by aliens if I had to live there. When Brynn awakens to the arrival of aliens, how can she cope with the invasion if her neighbors hate her?
“No One Will Save You” makes great use of light, using highlights and sun rays to provide a more natural contrast to the intense beams of light that shine from the alien spaceship. The settings provide detailed information about Brynn’s community and character, building the story in the absence of dialogue. The film also depends on the considerable talent of Kaitlyn Dever, whose ability to express complex emotions with her face compensates for the relative quietness of the script. The problem, however, is that with no lines or even shouts, most of the film is spent with Dever sighing, gasping and generally breathing heavily. It makes sense for the story, but after a while it starts to take over the entire experience. Maybe they could let her character talk to herself a little?
The other major flaw of No One Will Save You is how drawn out the story is. The film is only 93 minutes long and feels much longer. Ultimately, it’s beautifully made and skillfully acted, but boring. I think about the sets and costumes all the time, but I never watch this movie again.
“Nobody Can Save You” was written and directed by Brian Duffield. It runs 93 minutes and is rated PG-13.
Likewise, on Netflix, Reptile tries slow-burn neo-noir but drags along. In the film, veteran detective Tom Nichols (Benicio Del Toro) investigates the murder of Summer (Matilda Lutz), a young real estate agent working for hotshot agent Will Grady (Justin Timberlake) and his mother Camille (Frances Fisher). Will, Summer’s ex-husband, and the fickle man stalking Grady seem like good candidates, but what Tom discovers shocks him more than the murder itself.
Reptile reminds me of thrillers from the late 1990s and early 2000s like Double Jeopardy, Along Came a Spider or Seven. They had great actors, sometimes silly plots, but enough poignancy that sometimes I want to go back and watch them. Reptile has all the elements to be a good movie, but somehow it doesn’t quite add up. Hissing hissing.
However, Alicia Silverstone as Tom’s wife Judy brightens up the dull film, providing a charming counterpoint to Tom’s cool personality. She is smart and observant, but at the same time lighter in tone. Justin Timberlake is a late actor, but I kept asking why he was cast in this role. Benicio Del Toro is as talented as ever, but there are so many smart, smart middle-aged cops in this movie that everyone starts to get mixed up. Reptile demonstrates mastery of every element of the production, but especially at over two hours long, I doubt anyone can watch it without folding laundry and reading the headlines.
Reptile was written by Benjamin Brewer, Benicio Del Toro and director-turned-director Grant Singer. It runs 134 minutes and is rated R.