October is an interesting month for film releases. The blockbuster season is a distant memory and awards season is just getting started. Some festival favorites finally hit wide release, while others are chasing the spooky atmosphere of the season. However, there aren’t many major horror movies this month (and no, “Boo! A Madea Halloween” doesn’t count); instead, it seems that the dominant genre for October is adult thrillers. Sure, there’s a comedy and a drama or two in the mix, but mainly it’s thrillers aimed at grownups with twists, turns and some sophisticated action. Who knows if any of these will succeed at the box office, but here’s what’s on the docket for the month.
Who: Nate Parker, Armie Hammer, Aunjanue Ellis and Gabrielle Union
What: Nat Turner, a literate slave and preacher in the antebellum South, orchestrates an uprising.
When: October 7th
Why: There’s been a lot of discussion around “The Birth of a Nation.” First, there was tons of hype about the film coming out of Sundance, but more recently, the talk has become about writer/director/star Nate Parker’s previous rape allegations. For some, that’s a deal breaker and they won’t go see the film; others have learned to separate the art from the artist and will take the movie on its own merits (see Woody Allen, Roman Polanski, etc.). Based on word of mouth, the film is a harrowing, emotional experience that does a good job of connecting audiences to this historical event while finding the humanity amid all the horrible actions of the time period.
Who: Emily Blunt, Haley Bennett, Rebecca Ferguson, Luke Evans and Justin Theroux
What: A divorcee becomes entangled in a missing persons investigation that promises to send shockwaves throughout her life.
When: October 7th
Why: The book was a runaway hit, with many readers falling in love with the twists and turns of the thrilling tale of a woman who may or may not be involved in the disappearance of another woman. Blunt always elevates the movies she’s in and has proven herself an excellent actor in any genre. It remains to be seen if director Tate Taylor (“The Help”) has the chops for pulling off the story’s many intricacies, as he’s previously not worked with a storyline so complicated, at least narratively speaking. But if he can pull it off and successfully translate the book to screen, there will be a lot of happy readers out there who have already fallen under the spell of this tricky tale.
Who: Ben Affleck, Anna Kendrick, J.K. Simmons, Jon Bernthal and Jeffrey Tambor
What: A forensic accountant un-cooks the books for illicit clients.
When: October 14th
Why: Gavin O’Connor has proven himself a cerebral director that likes to tackle less than cerebral stories (“Warrior”). Can he bring that same ability to evoke emotional connections with this strange tale of an emotionally complicated man (who appears to be on the autism spectrum) who runs afoul of law enforcement and criminal types alike? With this murderer’s row of talent on the acting side, one certainly hopes so. Besides the once-and-future Batman, Ben Affleck, there’s excellent character actors like Jon Bernthal, John Lithgow, J.K. Simmons, and Jeffrey Tambor along for the ride, which should at least elevate the material slightly. The trailers walk the line between dumb and intriguing, but if O’Connor can handle the story deftly, this might just be a secret success.