First Glance: “The Black Phone”

The Halloween season is kicking into full gear and it seems like we’re getting one new horror film after another. Here’s one from director Scott Derrickson and the folks at Blumhouse that actually looks original. “The Black Phone” is most certainly a horror movie, but it’s just as much much a dark abduction thriller. Better yet, the chilling antagonist is played by none other than Ethan Hawke who worked with Derrickson on 2012’s underrated “Sinister”.

Derrickson’s last feature film was 2016’s “Doctor Strange” for Marvel Studios. He was set to direct its upcoming sequel but left the MCU due to creative differences. Now he returns to the horror/thriller genre with screenwriting partner and friend C. Robert Cargill. The two set their story in a Colorado suburb during the 1970s where several children have been kidnapped by an eerie creep known as “The Grabber”. In the new trailer Hawke is absolutely terrifying which is all I needed to have this added to my watch list.

“The Black Phone” opens in theaters February 4th. Check out the trailer below and let me know if you’ll be seeing it or taking a pass.

First Glance: “Home Sweet Home Alone”

Soooo normally this would be one of those movies that I would say a quick “No Thank You” to and then move along. But there are a couple of things that stood out about the upcoming Disney+ original movie “Home Sweet Home Alone”. Sure, it’s title is cringe-worthy and the very thought of another “Home Alone” doesn’t exactly thrill the soul. But seeing young Archie Yates, who stole every single scene he had in 2019’s “Jojo Rabbit”, in the lead role brought a big smile to my face.

Advertising it as the sixth installment in the “Home Alone” franchise (yes, I suppose it is a franchise) isn’t the best sales pitch. I genuinely like the first two Macaulay Culkin led films, both directed by Chris Columbus and written by the late John Hughes. But everything after that was borderline unwatchable. So will this new installment play closer to the original two films or the abysmal last three? It’s hard to tell by the trailer. It’s basically a Christmas time copy of the first film but with a new setting. Still, with Archie leading the way I’m compelled to give it a shot.

“Home Sweet Home Alone” premieres November 12th on Disney+. Check out the trailer below and let me know if you’ll be seeing it or taking a pass.

First Glance: “Scream”

For those who haven’t gotten their fill of old slasher movie franchises being revived, along comes “Scream”. Though advertised as a franchise relaunch, this is a direct sequel to “Scream 4” from 2011. It’s worth noting that his will be the first “Scream” movie not to be directed by the late Wes Craven. It also continues a trend of dropping the number at the end of the title and simply reusing the original name (I still haven’t figured out why that’s a thing).

The first trailer dropped today from Paramount and franchise fans will instantly notice the similarities between this and the original movie. We see a modernized remake of the famous Drew Barrymore opening from the 1996 film. And of course we see the signature characters: Neve Campbell’s Sidney, David Arquette’s Dewey, and Courteney Cox’s Gale. A smattering of new young faces ensures that the new ghost-faced killer has plenty of fresh meet to slash.

“Scream” hits theaters January 14th. Check out the trailer below and let me know if you’ll be seeing it or taking a pass.

First Glance: “Paranormal Activity: Next of Kin”

Full disclosure (again) – I don’t have any real connection the “Paranormal Activity” series. I don’t know anything about its timeline and couldn’t tell you anything of value about the previous movies outside of the first couple. I’m also not a fan of found-footage horror movies (they were fun at first but wore out their welcome years ago). Yet strangely, the new trailer “Paranormal Activity: Next of Kin” grabbed my attention.

“Next of Kin” is essentially the seventh installment in the “PA” franchise, but it’s advertised as a full reboot of the series. Horror guru Jason Blum produces this story of a young woman shooting a documentary that chronicles her visit to an Amish village. There she’s set to meet a biological relative who may have information about her late mother’s past. As the trailer makes abundantly clear, things get pretty macabre and her visit quickly turns terrifying.

“Paranormal Activity: Next of Kin” premieres October 29th on Paramount+ streaming. Check out the trailer below and let me know if you’ll be seeing it or taking a pass.

First Glance: “Cyrano”

The movie musical resurgence continues with “Cyrano”, an upcoming adaptation of Erica Schmidt’s 2018 stage musical which was an adaptation of Edmond Rostand’s classic 1897 play, “Cyrano de Bergerac”. The film comes for director Joe Wright who last film “The Woman in the Window” didn’t quite live up to its potential. But Wright has a pretty good track record so there’s reasons to be optimistic.

Rather than being the story of a man with giant nose, the Cyrano in Wright’s film is of tiny stature (played by the always superb Peter Dinklage). Cyrano is in love with a young beauty named Roxanne (Haley Bennett) but he’s convinced himself he’s unworthy of her affection. He’s finally able to express through romantic love letters written in the name of a dashing young suitor (Kelvin Harrison, Jr.). There are definitely some of Wright’s signature visual flourishes and the cast is intriguing. That’s enough for me to give it a go.

“Cyrano” opens in theaters December 31st. Check out the trailer below and let me know if you’ll be seeing it or taking a pass.

First Glance: “Licorice Pizza”

The mere mention of a new Paul Thomas Anderson movie is sure to garner a heap of attention. The much beloved PTA is a filmmaker with his own unique style of filmmaking and storytelling. I admit, I appreciate his work but have often been pretty mixed on the results (I absolutely loved his last film “Phantom Thread” and “There Will Be Blood” is an all-time favorite if that’s any consolation).

Armed with one the craziest but best titles of the year, PTA’s new film “Licorice Pizza” is a coming-of-age drama set in the San Fernando Valley during the 1970s. The much anticipated first trailer really digs into the setting while highlighting the film’s interesting cast. It stars Cooper Hoffman (son of the late Philip Seymour Hoffman), Bradley Cooper, Alana Haim, Benny Safdie, Sean Penn, Nate Mann, Skyler Gisondo, Mary Elizabeth Ellis, Destry Allyn Spielberg, Tom Waits, and Maya Rudolph. In one since I’m compelled by Anderson’s vision. At the same time the trailer resembles a host of other of these kinds of teen movies. Hopefully Anderson has some cool stuff up his sleeve.

“Licorice Pizza” gets a limited release November 26th. Check out the trailer below and let me know if you’ll be seeing it or taking a pass.