Briefing

What to watch in October

On deck: Julia Roberts' rom-com return, a new DC superhero film, and several possible Oscar contenders

Spooky season is here, and October brings us new installments in several iconic horror franchises — not to mention Julia Roberts' triumphant romantic comedy return, a new DC superhero film, and several possible Oscar contenders. Here's everything to watch in October: 

Interview with the Vampire (Oct. 2)

Ready to kick off spooky season with a vampire series that doesn't suck? From AMC comes this new interpretation of the classic Anne Rice novel Interview with the Vampire, which tells the "epic story of love, blood, and the perils of immortality" recounted by a vampire to a journalist. Game of Thrones star Jacob Anderson takes over the role of Louis, played by Brad Pitt in the 1994 movie, while Sam Reid stars in the part previously played by Tom Cruise: Lestat de Lioncourt, who seduces Louis and turns him into a vampire in the 1910s. Eric Bogosian also plays journalist Daniel Molloy. If it sounds like another version of this story might be unnecessary, reviews have been surprisingly positive, with Collider calling the series "lush and enthralling," Consequence saying it's "startlingly good," and Time writing that it "seizes an opportunity to improve upon an inferior adaptation." It sounds like you'll want to let this one into your streaming rotation.

Amsterdam (Oct. 7) 

Amsterdam boasts such a ridiculously star-studded cast, it might be more concise to list who's not in it. Silver Linings Playbook and American Hustle director David O. Russell's first film in seven years, Amsterdam is set in the 1930s and stars Christian Bale, Margot Robbie, and John David Washington as a doctor, nurse, and lawyer who are accused of murder. The rest of the cast includes Robert De Niro, Rami Malek, Chris Rock, Anya Taylor-Joy, Zoe Saldaña, Michael Shannon, Andrea Riseborough, Mike Myers, Timothy Olyphant, and Taylor Swift (who, with a small role, is giving the whole Hollywood acting career thing another try after Cats' motion capture put her in a bad light). Critics' early reactions to the film haven't been great, but IndieWire's David Ehrlich said Swift's "big scene" will "surely live on in GIF form," while The Playlist's Gregory Ellwood concurred she'll "get a meme out of it." So there you have it, Swifties: Get your first look at the next hot new GIF! 

Tár (Oct. 7)

Will Cate Blanchett join the small group of actors with not one, but three Oscar wins? It's quite possible thanks to Tár. The new film from writer-director Todd Field stars Blanchett as a composer of classical music who faces sexual misconduct allegations. It received rave reviews at the Venice Film Festival in September, and critics said it's one of the best performances of Blanchett's career — which is really saying something. The film is also Field's first in 16 years, as he hasn't made a movie since 2006's Little Children. Expect to see Blanchett engaged in a fierce battle for the Best Actress Oscar this year against the two Michelles — Yeoh and Williams — and a Best Picture nomination is also likely. The Hollywood Reporter described Tár as a "mesmerizing character study" centered around an "astonishing" central performance, while Deadline said it "features a lead performance the likes of which doesn't come along very often." It sounds like music to the Academy's ears. 

Hellraiser (Oct. 7)

Will the suffering ever end for Hellraiser fans? Clive Barker's original 1987 film is a horror classic, but the sequels released direct-to-video in recent years have been … let's just say less well received. Three hold a rare zero percent Rotten Tomatoes scores, and one was reportedly slapped together in two weeks simply so the studio wouldn't lose the rights. But the latest installment looks promising: It's a full reboot, and it follows Odessa A'zion as a young woman who comes across the puzzle box that summons the Cenobites, including the iconic villain Pinhead. In this interpretation, Pinhead is played by Jamie Clayton, a trans woman. It has the potential to be the best Hellraiser film since the original almost by default, if only based on who's behind the camera: David Bruckner, who's coming off of the excellent horror films The Ritual and The Night House, as well as the creepy "Amateur Night" segment in V/H/S. Barker himself is also producing. Hellraiser is being released direct to Hulu, and believe it or not, it's technically a Disney movie. That's right, folks: Pinhead is officially a Disney princess. 

The Midnight Club (Oct. 7)

If it's Halloween, it must be a new Mike Flanagan Netflix show. Flanagan is the horror mastermind behind Netflix's The Haunting of Hill House and last year's Midnight Mass, and he co-created the streamer's new series The Midnight Club, based on the young adult novel by Christopher Pike. It's set at a hospice for terminally ill teenagers, who secretly meet to tell scary stories "and make a pact that the next of them to die will give the group a sign from the beyond," per Netflix's synopsis. The cast mostly includes unknown young actors, but A Nightmare on Elm Street's Heather Langenkamp stars as the enigmatic doctor. The show is clearly aimed at a younger audience than the previous Flanagan Netflix shows, and those looking for a more adult-focused series from him can wait until The Fall of the House of Usher. But it looks like The Midnight Club should still offer some signature Flanagan chills, and, more than likely, some really, really long monologues. 

Werewolf by Night (Oct. 7)

For those prone to complaining that all Marvel movies look and feel the same, we have the TV special for you. Werewolf by Night is a new Disney+ Halloween special — it's not a new series, nor is it a full-length movie — that looks essentially like a 1930s Universal monster movie by way of the MCU. It's in black-and-white, and the trailer evokes over-the-top marketing for classic horror movies like one of the fake trailers attached to Grindhouse. Gael García Bernal stars in the lead role of Jack Russell, a man who turns into a werewolf, and the special involves a cabal of monster hunters gathering together after their leader's death, leading to a "mysterious and deadly competition for a powerful relic" and confrontation with a creature, Disney says. The special was directed by Michael Giacchino — yes, Michael Giacchino, the Academy Award-winning composer of Jurassic World, Pixar's Up, and several Marvel Cinematic Universe films. But it only makes sense for the MCU to turn its focus to the Universal monsters, who existed in a cinematic universe before it was cool. 

Let the Right One In (Oct. 9)

Vampire fans are definitely eating well this month. On top of Interview with the Vampire, we also have Let the Right One In, a new Showtime series based on the novel about a young boy who bonds with a vampire, which inspired the classic Swedish film of the same name. The Showtime version stars Demián Bichir as Mark, the father of the young vampire Eleanor, and he "does his best to feed her the human blood she needs to survive," Showtime says. This idea of Eleanor's protector being her biological father, who allows her to drink his own blood, is a change from the original book and movie. But exploring this father-daughter relationship should help keep this version fresh, and executive producer Seith Mann explained the show will "explore the lengths that this father would go to to keep his daughter alive," as well as "what a parent will do for a child when they are struggling with addiction," per SyFy. Let's hope Showtime does right by the original. 

The Watcher (Oct. 13)

Since signing his massive Netflix deal, Ryan Murphy has certainly been keeping busy. The American Horror Story creator recently released Dahmer, and just a few weeks later, the streamer is dropping another show from him: The Watcher. Naomi Watts and Bobby Cannavale star as a husband and wife who move into a new house with their kids, only to get a creepy note from someone identifying themselves as "The Watcher," declaring they've "been put in charge of watching you," and the letters are "just the beginning as the neighborhood's sinister secrets come spilling out," Netflix says. We regret to inform you it's based on a true story, and the series is adapted from an article at The Cut written by Reeves Wiedeman in 2018. Margo Martindale, Mia Farrow, and Jennifer Coolidge also star in the show, which looks likely to make subscribers say "just move out of the dang house!" about a dozen times. 

Halloween Ends (Oct. 14)

Just how many times are Laurie Strode and Michael Myers going to have one last battle? The rebooted Halloween series that began in 2018 comes to an alleged conclusion in Halloween Ends, which picks up four years after the events of Halloween Kills. Michael hasn't resurfaced since his latest killing spree, and Laurie Strode has finally been able to "liberate herself from fear and rage." But the horror kicks back into motion when a young man named Corey is accused of murder, and it will all lead to Laurie's latest "last stand" against the Boogeyman. It's safe to assume there will, in fact, be more Halloween movies after this. But Ends is likely to at least be the definitive end of this current series, and probably also Jamie Lee Curtis' final time playing Laurie Strode. Let's just hope Universal doesn't pull a Halloween: Resurrection by retconning a satisfying ending in the very next installment. 

Till (Oct. 14)

Danielle Deadwyler could be right there alongside Cate Blanchett in the Best Actress Oscar race after the premiere of Till. She stars as Mamie Till-Mobley, whose son, Emmett Till, was famously lynched in 1955 Mississippi, and the film follows her "pursuit of justice," telling her "poignant journey of grief turned to action," per the plot synopsis. Jalyn Hall plays Emmett Till, and the rest of the cast includes Haley Bennett, Frankie Faison, and Whoopi Goldberg as Alma Carthan, Mamie's mother. Goldberg is also producing the movie. "I want people to just know this story, like we know Anne Frank's story," Goldberg told Chris Cuomo, adding she hopes it serves as an "eye-opener" for viewers who say, "Oh s--t. We can't have this happen ever again." Chinonye Chukwu, who became the first Black woman to ever win Sundance's U.S. Dramatic Grand Jury Prize for her film Clemency, directs.  

Rosaline (Oct. 14)

Justice for Rosaline! Kaitlyn Dever stars in this new comedic spin on Romeo & Juliet that focuses not on either Romeo or Juliet, but on Rosaline, Romeo's love interest at the start of the play. "My boyfriend is about to make the biggest mistake of his life," Rosaline declares, so she sets out to stop Romeo and Juliet's wedding. It puts a decidedly modern spin on the story with plenty of anachronistic dialogue, so if you ever wanted to see a Romeo & Juliet adaptation where someone quips "blow me," this is the film for you. Karen Maine, who made her directorial debut with the Natalia Dyer comedy Yes, God, Yes, directs the Hulu original, which was written by the duo behind films like The Disaster Artist and The Spectacular Now. It's also one of two films slated for this month that will give Dever a chance to flex her comedic chops again three years after her hilarious performance in Booksmart, so don't miss this one if you've got #DeverFever. 

Black Adam (Oct. 21)

Remember blockbuster movies? Theaters have been fairly sparse of major new releases since July, and DC's Black Adam will serve as the first big tentpole in months. Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson stars as the titular antihero who's freed after being imprisoned for 5,000 years. In the DC comics, Black Adam is one of the main villains that Shazam faces. But DC decided to give the character his own standalone film before tossing him into a Shazam! sequel with Zachary Levi. Pierce Brosnan also stars, while Viola Davis returns as Amanda Waller from the Suicide Squad movies. This is The Rock's first-ever superhero film — maybe he's getting a bit sick of the jungle —  and he has repeatedly promised the "hierarchy of power in the DC Universe is about to change." Given fans are anticipating a DC reset on the horizon amid the chaos at Warner Bros. Discovery, though, that change could end up being short-lived. 

Ticket to Paradise (Oct. 21)

Pack your bags: We're saving the studio romantic comedy. George Clooney and Julia Roberts star in Ticket to Paradise as a divorced couple whose daughter, played by Kaitlyn Dever, is about to marry a man she just met, so they have to put aside their differences and attempt to stop the wedding in Bali. Yes, that's right, Dever is in two romantic comedies this month about trying to stop a wedding. Billie Lourd also stars, making this a full-fledged Booksmart reunion. The film, which comes from the director of Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again, looks like a throwback to the days when rom-coms with big stars were actually released in theaters by major studios and not just dumped on Netflix — it even has a blooper reel in the credits. For a film of its kind, Ticket to Paradise has actually received pretty solid reviews, too. Read the latest Bennifer news on your way to the theater for the full "time traveling back to 2003" experience.

The Banshees of Inisherin (Oct. 21)

In addition to Tár, one of the other best-reviewed movies out of the fall film festivals this year was The Banshees of Inisherin. From Martin McDonagh, the director of Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri and In Bruges, it stars Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson as a pair of friends, one of whom, played by Gleeson, suddenly decides to end their relationship. Farrell's character has no idea why, but when he tries to find out, Gleeson threatens to cut off one of his fingers every time he even speaks to him. Early reviews have been glowing, with Variety describing it as "caustically, hauntingly, and sometimes raucously sad" but "quietly magnificent." The film looks like a likely Best Picture nominee at the Oscars, and Farrell and Gleeson both appear to be sho-ins for Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor nods, respectively. Could this be the start of a totally different kind of Brenaissance

Guillermo del Toro's Cabinet of Curiosities (Oct. 25)

Submitted for your approval, it's a brand new horror anthology series from Guillermo del Toro. The Pan's Labyrinth director created this series that offers a different horror story from a different director each episode, and he's assembled some impressive talent. Episodes are directed by the filmmakers behind movies like The BabadookThe Empty Man, The Vigil, Mandy, A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night, and Splice, and cast members include Tim Blake Nelson, Crispin Glover, Andrew Lincoln, Ismael Cruz Córdova, Eric André, and Rupert Grint. In a teaser, del Toro described the show as one he "always wanted to make," and he noted it features tons of practical effects. Del Toro himself is even expected to introduce the episodes, making this basically his version of Alfred Hitchcock Presents. If he does all the intros in his best Cryptkeeper impression, then we'll really be on board. After the series premieres on Oct. 25, two episodes will drop every day until Oct. 28. 

Armageddon Time (Oct. 28)

Autobiographical films are all the rage these days. Later this year, Steven Spielberg is dramatizing his childhood with The Fabelmans, but first, we have James Gray's Armageddon Time. Described as a "deeply personal story" about the "strength of family, the complexity of friendship and the generational pursuit of the American dream," it is set in Queens in the 1980s, drawing from Gray's own upbringing. His previous films include Ad Astra and The Lost City of Z. Anne Hathaway, Jeremy Strong, and Anthony Hopkins star — and because the setting is 1980s Queens, John Diehl and Jessica Chastain even show up as Fred Trump and Maryanne Trump, Donald Trump's father and sister. We look forward to the "Nick Fury in Iron Man" style post-credits scene recruiting one of our main characters to the Trump Organization initiative. 

The White Lotus (Oct. 30)

After cleaning up at the Emmys, The White Lotus is continuing in the grand tradition of supposedly "limited" series that return for a second season anyway. The HBO hit from Mike White has rebranded itself as an anthology, so the second season takes place at a new White Lotus hotel with a mostly new cast. While season one was set in Hawaii, this one is set in Sicily. The cast now includes F. Murray Abraham and Aubrey Plaza, the latter of whom is continuing to flex her dramatic acting chops post Parks and Recreation. But the show is still maintaining the same continuity, as there's one returning character: Jennifer Coolidge, who's back as Tanya from the first season. We'll have to see if lightning can strike twice for HBO, but the odds of the show itself being more entertaining than Coolidge's Emmy speech seems low. 

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