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The Guest *** Directed by Adam Wingard. Dan Stevens, Maika Monroe. A soldier introduces himself to the Peterson family, claiming to be a friend of their son who died in action. After the young man is welcomed into their home, a series of accidental deaths seem to be connected to his presence. It’s hellish good fun. Stevens is mesmerizing as the avenger, helping director Wingard turn The Guest into a blast of wicked mirth and malice.
The Skeleton Twins *** Directed by Craig Johnson. Bill Hader, Kristen Wiig, Luke Wilson, Ty Burrell. Having both coincidentally cheated death on the same day, estranged twins reunite with the possibility of mending their relationship. If a movie with suicide as a central theme can be deemed funny, then writer/director Johnson has pulled it off, mixing heartache and humor and giving Wiig, especially, the opportunity to shine.
The Maze Runner **½ Directed by Wes Ball. In a postapocalyptic future, an amnesiac named Thomas (Dylan O’Brien) wakes up to find himself trapped with a group of other teenage boys in a mysterious community called the Glade, where they must uncover the deadly secrets of a giant maze in order to survive. It’s bleak business, and as it hurries toward its explosive, expository conclusion, the film becomes nonsensical, too.
Magic in the Moonlight ** Directed by Woody Allen. Eileen Atkins, Colin Firth, Marcia Gay Harden, Hamish Linklater, Suimon McBurney, Emma Stone, Jacki Weaver. Exposing a phony soothsayer proves harder than expected when the debunker (an Englishman) becomes smitten with the purported fraud (a French beauty). It starts off with a flourish and winds up limp, like a rabbit pulled out of a hat that turns out to be dead.
At the Devil’s Door ** Directed by Nicholas McCarthy. When a gung-ho real-estate agent is asked to unload a house with a dark past, she encounters the sellers’ unhinged daughter. Goes right up to the threshold of being an interesting possession saga but never truly gets inside.
This Is Where I Leave You *½ Directed by Shawn Levy. Jason Bateman, Tina Fey, Adam Driver, Rose Byrne, Corey Stoll, Kathryn Hahn, Connie Britton, Timothy Olyphant, Dax Shepard, Jane Fonda. In accordance with Jewish custom, four siblings gather to sit shivah after their father’s death but are soon bickering and renewing old grudges. A totally aimble, utterly unmoving filler given a major shot in the arm by its cast, people it’s simply a pleasure to watch, even with the creeping feeling they’re better than this.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles * Directed by Jonathan Liebesman. Megan Fox, Will Arnett, Johnny Knoxville, Alan Ritchson, Noel Fisher, Jeremy Howard, William Fichtner, Whoopi Goldberg, Tony Shalhoub. When a kingpin threatens New York City, a group of mutated turtle warriors must emerge from the shadows to protect their home. This isn’t a movie; it’s a brand re-launch that’s going to satisfy stockholders far more than it’s going to entertain the people who paid to rent or buy it.
Cam2Cam * Directed by Joel Soisson. While on vacation in Bangkok, Allie Westbrook (Tammin Sursok) meets two expatriate men who invite her to participate in a racy sounding online game. Ostensibly a lame treatise on how slippery self-image can be in the Internet age, the film ultimately reveals itself as a much lamer treatise on the evil sorcery of female sexuality.