This Week in Movies
What to watch: Evil children and haunted hotels on Austin screens
Genre films rule the screens this weekend both from big studios and independent labels. While sifting through your entertainment options, be sure to consider a horrific tale of parenthood and a haunted hotel story.
This Weekend at the Drafthouse
Anticipation for a regular run of the dramatic thriller We Need to Talk About Kevin has been high since its Austin debut at Fantastic Fest last September. Any detailed logline about the film would give away its best moments but at its very core it's the story of a mother. Eva Khatchadourian (Tilda Swinton) is dealing with a difficult child. Receiving little-to-no help from her clueless husband (John C. Reilly), Eva raises the incessantly-crying baby into a hate-filled toddler and eventually into what appears to be a purely evil teenager.
With Kevin (played as a teen by Ezra Miller, Afterschool) heading on a path towards acting out on his nefarious roots, Lynne Ramsay's film becomes a hyperbolic examination of unchecked human development. Based on Lionel Shriver's book of the same name, We Need to Talk About Kevin is horror derived from the familial unit itself, a unnerving experience waiting on Austin screens this weekend for anyone brave enough to see what it is about Kevin that really need to be discussed. (We Need to Talk About Kevin also opens at Regal Arbor Cinemas Friday)
Ti West (The House of the Devil) is no stranger to Austin. He and his films have been part of several Austin festivals and special screenings and his latest, The Innkeepers, world premiered at SXSW in 2011 and went on to play Fantastic Fest. It's been available on some video on demand services, but the best way to experience West's new haunted hotel story is on the big screen.
Claire (Sara Paxton) and Luke (Pat Healy) are hotel employees tasked with tending to the few remaining guests on the last weekend of the hotel's operations. Luke has aspirations of recording proof of paranormal activity and bored Claire is happy to help; they take turns exploring the darkest corners of the old hotel with sometimes scary results. The Innkeepers is actually rather light on horror, at first, but high on character development. Claire and Luke make for an endlessly watchable duo, their banter true and truly interesting.
That's not to say there aren't some terrifying moments: West takes time to build a sense of impending dread, keeping it just out of the reach of the audience who are busy enjoying the company of Claire and Luke, until he can pull the rug out from everyone. It's a solid horror effort that benefits greatly from a dark room, a big screen and an excellent sound system.
Beyond the Weekend
The Alamo Drafthouse's signature series Zzang!!! (which celebrates all things awesome in the 80s) will present two screenings of Eddie Murphy's classic Coming to America. You can catch the film Sunday (1/5) or Monday (1/6) at the Ritz location.