The weekend is here, so it’s time to kick back with a good movie. But one of the problems of the VOD era is the sheer quantity of choice can make it truly paralyzing, especially if you subscribe to all of the best streaming services.
With that in mind, we’ve picked out five interesting movies to get you started this weekend. It’s a mixture of new and old, and this week we’ve popped in a couple of horror options to honor the start of October and the approach of Halloween.
Two of the titles (Reptile; Flora and Son) are a pair of the best new films to emerge on streaming platforms this week. Then there are two horror classics — 1978’s Halloween and last year’s exceedingly creepy Smile. As a bit of a turn-the-lights-up palette cleanser, we’ve also included Pixar’s recent and somewhat underrated tale of opposites attracting, Elemental.
Here’s a bit more information about all of our weekend picks.
Flora and Son (Apple TV Plus)
The most promising movie recently added to streaming platforms is Flora and Son — an Apple original movie that has achieved a positive reception from both critics and viewers (94% fresh with the critics and 85% with audience members, according to Rotten Tomatoes).
It’s an uplifting comedy in which single mom Flora (Eve Hewson) learns that music is the way to connect with her distant and rebellious teenage son Max (Orén Kinlan), with help from guitar lessons from a past-it LA musician (Joseph Gordon-Levitt).
Smile (Prime Video)
To celebrate our entry into October and Halloween rapidly approaching on the horizon, it’s time to transition to horror films. The best recent horror movie (with Talk To Me not quite available to stream just yet) is last year’s extremely creepy Smile (80% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes).
While not everyone was enamored by its jump scares, for me it captures the unsettling feel of the best horror Twilight Zone episodes, where one person is experiencing something that nobody else can see or believe. When Dr. Rose Cotter (Sosie Bacon) witnesses a grisly patient suicide, the people around her start displaying a deeply unsetting rictus grin — and it always signals danger ahead.
Halloween (AMC Plus on Prime Video)
If modern horror movies don’t quite cut it for you, then the iconic Halloween is available to stream on Prime Video if you’ve augmented it with the AMC Plus/Shudder subscription. It should need no introduction, as the movie that set the standard for modern slasher films and created a horror icon. But if you need further evidence it’s worth your time, it has a 96% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes with an equally effusive 89% audience grade.
The plot concerns Michael Myers (not that one), incarcerated for the murder of his sister when he was just six years old. Fifteen years later, while being transferred for a court date, Myers escapes, steals a car and hunts for victims in his old hometown…
Elemental (Disney Plus)
If the only horror you want is a bit of PG-rated mild peril, then Elemental is another typically creative number from the animation geniuses at Pixar, now streaming on Disney Plus. It didn’t do brilliantly at the box office, but I thought it was a bit of a return to form, personally, and it has a decent Rotten Tomatoes score of 74% fresh (the audience score is an even higher 93%).
For the purposes of the movie, Pixar has created a city where species made up of the four elements — air, earth, fire and water — live in an awkward disharmony. The story follows the unlikely romance between Ember — a tough young fire lady — and Wade — a frequently tearful, emotional water man.
When critical and audience opinion is divided, all you can really do is see it for yourself and make up your own mind. That’s definitely the case with Reptile, which gets a lukewarm 42% fresh Rotten Tomatoes score with the critics, but a very positive 81% fresh reaction from audiences.
The plot concerns Detective Tom Nichols (Benicio del Toro) who has been forced to relocate to Maine with his wife (Alicia Silverstone), and begins a new life by investigating the murder of a local realtor. With three prime suspects played by Justin Timberlake, Karl Glusman and Michael Pitt, Nichols slowly discovers that the case might not be quite what it seems.