Dark Skies (PG-13)
If you've sat out the horror/sci-fi genre massaging that's taken place over the past several years, you'll find it all in Dark Skies, a kind of greatest-hits summary of recent developments. This outing, by nature, is less than the sum of its parts, but the involvement of producer Jason Blum (Paranormal Activity,) lends the knockoff an authorized feel. Dark Skies stars Keri Russell, whose family, house and health are besieged by strange forces that confound a wide swath of humanity, including their neighbors and experts on bird migration patterns. When J.K. Simmons, memorably playing a paranormal expert, informs them that such events usually signal an upcoming abduction, it falls on the family to batten down the hatches and shoot at the walls or something. Written and directed by Scott Stewart (Priest, Legion), Dark Skies is a mildly entertaining annual checkup. — Justin Strout
Escape (NR) (Blu-ray)
While its Blu-ray cover makes this Norwegian tween Viking epic (I can't believe I just wrote that) out to be a rip-off of The Hunger Games, it's actually so much more than that. And I, for one, am so incredibly grateful. In the year 1363, 10 years after the Black Plague has absolutely decimated the land, groups of nomads travel in search of a new life. One such family, while crossing a mountain pass, is attacked by a group of sleazy thugs and merciless killers. The only survivor is Signe, the teenage daughter, who escapes from her captors and unleashes hell — or whatever the Norse equivalent is — on the band of bloodthirsty bandits. Eschewing the pathos and romance of similar young adult stories, Escape goes right for the throat with action and thrills, cumulating in a dangerously fun adventure from which the States could take a tip or two. — Louis Fowler Barrymore (NR)
Iconic stage and screen actor John Barrymore is a Hollywood legend, thanks to everything from his award-winning performances to a lineage that continues today with Drew Barrymore. But, as one could imagine, he was a far more complicated and troubled man, falling from grace at the height of his career due to a deadly mixture of self-destruction, vice and excess. His life story would make a riveting movie in itself, and while Barrymore isn't the biopic people were looking for exactly, this filmed version of the one-man show, starring an amazingly powerful Christopher Plummer, is good enough to satisfy any craving for such a film. Erik Canuel's project finds the titular character's career dead, and him desperately looking for a comeback. It's filled with great stories, moving soliloquies and odd moments of humor, and Plummer is absolutely mesmerizing. — Louis Fowler
So proud of you Catherine!!! I knew you could do it!!!
I read an early draft of Ghostland in 2014 that was written by Jon Orr…