Home Entertainment Movies out today: Horror and hysteria abounds

Movies out today: Horror and hysteria abounds

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Four new films open in South Africa today, and half of them seem to be Halloween leftovers.

If Hotel Transylvania and Frankenweenie didn’t satisfy your craving for macabre animated comedy, well here’s one more for you! From the animation studio behind Coraline, Paranorman is the stop-motion tale of a young loner whose ability to communicate with the dead comes in handy when a witch’s curse triggers a zombie invasion of his town.

Screening in 3D, Paranorman is apparently a real treat for adults and older children. Perhaps a bit slow and slight on story, it’s nonetheless sharp, smart and scary. “Edgy”  and “risky” are some of the words typically been thrown around about this one. With an aggregated Rotten Tomatoes rating of 86% Fresh, Paranorman is my New Movie Pick of the Week.

House at the End of the Street:
Every starlet has to have at least one horror thriller under her belt, and The Hunger Games’ Jennifer Lawrence meets her quota with House at the End of the Street. Here the young actress plays a teenager who moves to a new town with her divorced mother (Elisabeth Shue). However, their attempt at a fresh start takes a dark turn when they discover their neighbour (Max Thieriot) is linked to bloody past events.

With a PG-13 age restriction, House at the End of the Street is evidently tame, teen-safe horror. The film has its fair share of twists and jump moments, but it’s also messily made, very contrived and lacking in genuine suspense. Lawrence tries hard but she can’t save this one.

Jeff, Who Lives at Home:
It may sound like yet another slacker comedy, but there’s apparently more to this indie effort than you’d expect. The always likeable Jason Segel plays the title character, a 30 year old stoner searching for meaning in his life. Meanwhile, his brother (Ed “The Hangover” Helms) and mother (Susan Sarandon) have their own crises to contend with.

Coming from the makers of  the similarly domestic-focused but offbeat Cyrus, Jeff, Who Lives at Home apparently isn’t a conventional feel-good film. However, it’s a strangely sweet effort that is very well acted and ends strongly… for those who can stomach meandering indie comedies.

Screening in limited release is this historical romantic comedy about a young Victorian doctor (Hugh Dancy) who revolutionises the treatment of female “hysteria” – and rapidly rises in popularity with repressed English ladies – thanks to the invention of an electric “massager.” Maggie Gyllenhaal, Jonathan Pryce and Rupert Everett also star.

Hysteria has divided critics. While some have praised the film for its intelligence and good-heartedness (it’s not as smutty as you’d think), others have complained that the movie spends too much time sniggering at and superficially exploring the silliness of an interesting true story.

Last Updated: November 9, 2012

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