By Keith Phipps
If you want to be scared this Halloween season you won’t need to stray too far from movie theaters—or even leave the house, if you don’t want to. October brings two vampire series, numerous horror movies, and a reunited Key and Peele as demons.
But if you don’t want to be scared, you’ve got options too. The end of the month brings a second season of The White Lotus (which will undoubtedly be scary in its own way) and, in theaters, you can find an already-acclaimed performance from Cate Blanchett and other promising titles. But first, did we mention vampires?
Interview with the Vampire (AMC, October 2)
October traditionally brings an abundance of horror of both the film and TV varieties and this year is no exception. The month kicks off with a new take on one of the most famous vampire stories ever, a new adaptation of the 1976 novel that made Anne Rice famous (and spawned 12 sequels collectively known as The Vampire Chronicles). Jacob Anderson (Game of Thrones) stars as Louis, a vampire who spills his guts centuries-spanning undead life and his love/hate relationship with Lestat (Sam Reid). (Not literally. Vampires mostly spill others’ guts.) Watch on AMC.com here.
Nothing Compares (Showtime, October 2)
It’s rarely possible to point to a single moment that turned the tide of an artist’s career but Irish singer Sinead O’Connor experienced just such a moment in 1992 when she shocked the audience of Saturday Night Live by tearing up a picture of Pope John Paul II in protest of the Catholic church’s sexual abuse scandals. This new documentary from Kathryn Ferguson revisits that moment but also what happened before and after via archival footage and interviews with O’Connor herself. Watch on Showtime.com here.
Mr. Harrigan’s Phone (Netflix, October 5)
Cell phones seem to scare Stephen King. In the 2006 novel, Cell, they helped usher in a zombie apocalypse and in 2020 novella Mr. Harrigan’s Phone they serve as a conduit for an avenging spirit. In this adaptation directed by John Lee Hancock (The Little Things), Donald Sutherland plays Mr. Harrigan, an elderly man gifted a cell phone by a friendly kid (Jaeden Martell). But after Harrigan’s death, the phone seemingly becomes a conduit to the beyond. Watch on Netflix.com.
Amsterdam (Theaters, October 7)
It almost seems easier to list the stars who don’t appear in David O. Russell’s latest film than those who do thanks to a cast that includes Christian Bale, Margot Robbie, John David Washington, Chris Rock, Anya Taylor-Joy, Taylor Swift… the list goes on and on. Not a lot of details of the plot have spilled out beyond this: it’s set in the 1930s and concerns a murder.
Catherine Called Birdy (Prime Video, October 7)
Lena Dunham made a two-part return to filmmaking this year starting with the decidedly adult dark comedy Sharp Stick and continuing with this adaptation of a classic 1994 children’s novel by Karen Cushman. Bella Ramsey stars as a young woman trying to find her place in the world of 13th-century England. Watch with a 30-day free trial to Amazon Prime here.
Tár (Theaters, October 7)
Todd Field’s first film since Little Children in 2006 stars Cate Blanchett as a famed conductor and composer on the verge of an artistic breakthrough — if she doesn’t collapse in the process. The film was a hit at Venice Film Festival, where Blanchett took the best actress prize. That might not be the last award she wins for the film, either.
Triangle of Sadness (Theaters, October 7)
Best known for cutting (and frequently hilarious) satires like The Square and Force Majeure, Swedish director Ruben Östlund heads to international waters with his latest film, which won the Palme D’Or at Cannes and takes place aboard a luxurious yacht captained by Woody Harrelson.
The Midnight Club (Netflix, October 7)
Adapting a 1994 novel by spooky YA favorite Christopher Pike, the latest miniseries from Mike Flanagan (Midnight Mass) takes place at a hospice for teens where, every night, the patients gather to tell scary stories. Before long, they find themselves in a spooky story of their own. (In a neat bit of casting, A Nightmare on Elm Street star Heather Langenkamp plays a doctor at the facility.) Watch on Netflix here.
Let the Right One In (Showtime, October 9)
Anne Rice’s vampires aren’t the only ones coming to television this month. Swedish author John Ajvide Lindqvist’s 2004 novel about a young (or at least young-looking vampire) seeking friendship has already been adapted into two movies and two plays so a TV series was probably inevitable. Here Demián Bichir stars as a father trying to care for, and maybe cure, his vampire daughter (Madison Taylor Baez). Watch on Showtime.com here.
Halloween Ends (Theaters / Peacock, October 14)
The third Halloween film directed by David Gordon Green finds Jamie Lee Curtis once again reprising her role as the tormented Laurie Strode, a woman forever plagued by the masked killer Michael Myers. Following last year’s Halloween Kills, this is being billed as Michael and Laurie’s final confrontation (possible) and the final Halloween film ever (don’t believe it). Watch with a free trial on PeacockTV.com here.
Decision to Leave (Theaters, October 14)
The latest film from Park Chan-Wook (Stoker, The Handmaiden) has a classic noir set-up: a cop (Park Hae-il) falls for a woman (Tang Wei) with all the makings of a femme fatale. But this being a Park Chan-Wook film, expect plenty of intense, unpredictable twists and turns no matter how familiar-seeming the premise.
Till (Theaters, October 14)
The 1955 murder of 14-year-old Emmett Till, a Black Chicagoan killed by racists while visiting his cousins in Mississippi, is a horrifying crime that became a galvanizing incident in the Civil Rights struggle. In her follow-up to Clemency, Chinonye Chukwu tells Emmett’s story and the story of his mother Mamie Till (Danielle Deadwyler), who spent the decades after her son’s death as a tireless activist.
Documentary Now! (IFC, October 19)
The co-creation of Fred Armisen, Bill Hader, Seth Meyers and Rhys Thomas returns with another batch of hilariously specific (and simply hilarious) send-ups of the documentary film world. This season’s guests include Alexander Skarsgård, Cate Blanchett, and Tom Jones (!) in films inspired by the work of Werner Herzog, Agnes Varda, and others. Watch on IFC.com here.
The School for Good and Evil (Netflix, October 19)
Paul Feig adapts the first in a series of YA novels Soman Chainani concerning, as the title suggests, a school for good and evil. “And” is the key word: it’s a place that trains kids to be both fairy tale heroes and villains. Instructing them is an all-star cast that includes Charlize Theron, Rachel Bloom, Laurence Fishburne and many others. Watch on Netflix here.
Black Adam (Theaters, October 21)
It’s kind of crazy that Dwayne Johnson, an actor who looks like he was drawn by comic book artists, hasn’t participated in the past two decades’ superhero movie boom (not counting the animated DC League of Super Pets). Until now. Here Johnson stars as Teth-Adam, an ancient, morally dubious superpowered being who makes a dramatic return after spending 5000 years imprisoned (and presumably getting angrier with each passing year). Watch Black Adam in theaters, then shop the corresponding Black Adam x Under Armour Collection that’s available online now.
The Banshees of Inisherin (Theaters, October 21)
The latest film from Martin McDonagh (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri) is a kind of double homecoming. It’s the first film the writer and director has made in his native Ireland and it reunites the stars of his debut feature, In Bruges. Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson co-star as longtime pals in 1920s Ireland whose friendship ends abruptly. It’s also already won great acclaim for its stars’ performances, so expect this one to be talked about for a while.
The Peripheral (Prime Video, October 21)
Adapted from a novel by William Gibson this new series from Westworld’s Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy is set in a near-future rural America that’s been radically reshaped by new technology. But is it our near future? Is it even the only possible future that lies ahead? Gibson’s novel is a mind-bending detective story that seems well-suited to this team. Chloë Grace Moretz stars. Watch with a 30-day free trial to Amazon Prime here.
All Quiet on the Western Front (Netflix, October 28)
Erich Maria Remarque’s classic anti-war novel about youth lost to the German war machine in World War I has been adapted before, most memorably as a devastating 1930 film. This first German adaptation comes from Edward Berger and stars a collection of fresh-faced newcomers and Daniel Brühl (The Falcon and the Winter Soldier) as German politician Matthias Erzberger. Watch on Netflix here.
Armageddon Time (Theaters, October 28)
After films set in the Amazon (The Lost City of Z) and space (Ad Astra), director James Gray returns to New York with his latest film, a semi-autobiographical story about growing up in New York in the 1980s. Newcomer Banks Repeta plays Paul, a kid forced to question his values when he’s separated from his Black best friend (Jaylin Webb). Anne Hathaway, Jeremy Strong and Anthony Hopkins co-star as members of Paul’s family, who respond in varying ways to the dawning Reagan era.
Wendell & Wild (Netflix, October 28)
Stop-motion master Henry Selick’s first film since Coraline in 2009 marks both a return to the spooky terrain of that film and Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas and a reunion of Jordan Peele and Keegan-Michael Key. The two provide the voices of demons trying to enlist the help of a teenage girl. Watch on Netflix here.
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