Bill Murray, Adam Sandler, and a whole lot of horror movies are coming this October

Clockwise from left: After We Collided (Photo: Courtesy of Open Road Films), Rebecca (Photo: Kerry Brown/Netflix), Hubie Halloween (Photo: Scott Yamano/Netflix), On The Rocks (Photo: Courtesy of Apple)
Clockwise from left: After We Collided (Photo: Courtesy of Open Road Films), Rebecca (Photo: Kerry Brown/Netflix), Hubie Halloween (Photo: Scott Yamano/Netflix), On The Rocks (Photo: Courtesy of Apple)
Graphic: Natalie Peeples

With Tenet failing to drum up the kind of business Warner Bros. was hoping for, Hollywood has mostly put the breaks on the grand resurrection of the American multiplex. Some films are still scheduled to hit theaters this month, but all release dates should, as usual, be considered fundamentally subject to change. Thankfully, those starved for new movies will find plenty to watch at home via streaming platforms, digital services, VOD, and virtual theaters—including a big crop of seasonal Halloween fare. Keep reading to find out what’s coming to a living room—and, yes, some theaters—near you. And before trekking out to see a movie on the big screen, please read up on the health risks.

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2 / 31

Scare Me

Scare Me

Shudder October 1

Fanny (Aya Cash) and Fred (Josh Ruben) commence an impromptu meeting of their own Midnight Society in this stripped-down meta-thriller. She’s a successful horror author, he’s a struggling writer-actor (here’s the part where we note that Ruben also wrote and directed this movie), and when a power outage derails their respective writing retreats, they pass the time by trying to scare each other with spooky stories. Ruben successfully avoids the staginess of this premise, which offers no cutaways to “real” enactments of the stories; Cash, Ruben, and a scene-stealing Chris Redd are the only show. They acquit themselves well, and the movie has some resonant themes—which it stretches thin over 104 minutes. Still, Shudder subscribers might get a kick out of it.
Read the A.V. Club’s review of Scare Me.

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3 / 31

On The Rocks

On The Rocks

Select theaters October 2; Apple TV+ October 23

Seventeen years after Lost In Translation won Sofia Coppola her first Oscar and almost won Bill Murray his, the director and star reunite for another dramedy about life’s uncertainties and frustrations. On The Rocks follows a Manhattan writer (Rashida Jones) bristling against the doldrums of motherhood, marriage, and impending middle age; Murray plays her seventysomething playboy father, who talks her into investigating suspicions that her businessman husband (Marlon Wayans) is having an affair. It’s Coppola’s least stylish and seductive movie (don’t expect any dream-pop needle drops), but there’s plenty of laid-back charm to savor, much of it courtesy of the relaxed comedy superstar the filmmaker has again cast as a sardonic drinking buddy.
Read the A.V. Club’s review of On The Rocks.

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4 / 31

Possessor

Possessor

Select theaters October 2

It’s being billed as Possessor Uncut, but to be clear, this is the first time the movie has played in theaters. That is, except for its debut at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, where it inspired a range of reactions, from “WTF?” to “Holy shit!” The implied warning of Neon’s ad campaign may be a smart move, given that writer-director Brandon Cronenberg seems to have inherited a flair for intense sci-fi body horror freakouts from his dad, the legendary David Cronenberg. The genre bona fides don’t stop there: Mandy’s Andrea Riseborough stars as an assassin who specializes in murder through high-tech identity theft.

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Dick Johnson Is Dead

Dick Johnson Is Dead

Netflix October 2

Cinematographer Kirsten Johnson went behind the camera in more ways than one with Cameraperson, a memoir collage of the unused footage she shot for a number of other documentaries. Her new film is autobiographical in a more direct way: It concerns Johnson’s attempts to help her aging father, who may be in the early stages of dementia, cope with his own decline and eventual demise. Heavy as that may sound, Dick Johnson Is Dead has a light touch and an almost cheerful disposition, as the filmmaker and her gregarious dad collaborate on staging mordantly funny fantasies of his death and afterlife.
Read the A.V. Club’s review of Dick Johnson Is Dead.

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6 / 31

Save Yourselves!

Save Yourselves!

Digital platforms October 2

Brooklyn couple Jack (John Reynolds) and Su (Sunita Mani) are hooked on their devices. So they take a trip to a cabin upstate and completely unplug—a break from the world that happens to coincide, whoops, with a massive interplanetary invasion. This Sundance sci-fi comedy pokes incisive fun at millennial self-absorption, with a side order of inspired special effects. Anyone who enjoyed that early stretch of Shaun Of The Dead where Shaun wanders obliviously around as the world goes to hell should make time for Save Yourselves!
Read the A.V. Club’s review of Save Yourselves!

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7 / 31

12 Hour Shift

12 Hour Shift

Select theaters and VOD October 2

Brea Grant wrote and directed this throwback to the post-Pulp Fiction boom in whip-smart, dialogue-driven, fantastically violent crime capers, focused on a crew of morally flexible nurses working overnight at an Arkansas hospital. May’s Angela Bettis stars as Mandy, pill popper and ringleader of a clandestine organ-smuggling operation. The film screened earlier this year at the virtual edition of Fantasia Fest, where The A.V. Club called it “an ensemble comedy as black as a longtime smoker’s lungs, full of the kind of working-class gallows humor that gets you through a long night on your feet.”

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8 / 31

Hubie Halloween

Hubie Halloween

Netflix October 7

And so it was foretold: For every Uncut Gems, there must be a Hubie Halloween to balance the cosmic scales. A fully Netflix-ed Adam Sandler—mugging face, preternaturally irritating voice, etc.—returns to rope what feels like even more of his famous friends than usual into an updated riff on that classic of the cinema, Ernest Scared Stupid. Sandler stars as self-appointed Halloween safety monitor Hubie Dubois, desperate to keep his fellow townsfolk—Kevin James, Maya Rudolph, Ray Liotta, Michael Chiklis, Tim Meadows, Steve Buscemi, Julie Bowen, Kenan Thompson, and more—safe when a killer stalks their city on his favorite night of the year.

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9 / 31

Charm City Kings

Charm City Kings

HBO Max October 8

It’s not just Robert Zemeckis who can make drama from hit documentaries. Fictionalizing Lotfy Nathan’s nonfiction 12 O’Clock Boys, about dirt bike riders in Baltimore, this Sundance favorite follows Mouse (Jahi Di’Allo Winston), a 14-year-old boy fascinated with the city’s underground biking culture. Pulled between the high-speed allure of premier bikers “The Midnight Clique” and the well-intentioned adults trying to keep him from making the same mistakes that got his brother killed, Mouse drifts into the orbit of a charismatic but dangerous biker leader (Meek Mill). Angel Manuel Soto directs; the script is by Sherman Payne, with a story credit for Moonlight’s Barry Jenkins.

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10 / 31

The War With Grandpa

The War With Grandpa

Select theaters October 9

Child abuse is fun for the whole family at last, as an aggressively comedy-mode Robert De Niro sets his grouchy sights on grandson Oakes Fegley in a prank battle for control of a much-coveted bedroom. As usual, De Niro doesn’t lack for game co-stars; if you’ve ever wanted to see Jane Seymour take a dodgeball to the face or Christopher Walken subject himself (and us) to a turn on a hoverboard, here’s your chance to get your perverse kicks. Behind the camera is Tim Hill, taking a breather from his usual wheelhouse of directing animated animals like Garfield, Alvin and The Chipmunks, and SpongeBob.

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11 / 31

A Rainy Day In New York

A Rainy Day In New York

Select theaters October 9

It took a pandemic, a bungled re-opening of movie theaters, and an utter dearth of theatrical releases for an American distributor to take a chance on A Rainy Day In New York, a movie orphaned by Amazon due to the long-standing sexual abuse allegations against writer-director Woody Allen. Outside of that controversy, the film itself is another late-period trifle, following a 21st-century college student somehow named Gatsby Welles (Timothée Chalamet) and his girlfriend, Ashleigh (Elle Fanning), on an off-campus day trip into Manhattan. Once there, they go through the usual Woody Allen routines: separating, considering alternate romantic partners, and issuing occasionally sharp one-liners. The only surprises left are which grab-bag performers do unexpectedly well with Allen’s musty comic style. Here, it’s Selena Gomez.

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The Forty-Year-Old Version

The Forty-Year-Old Version

Netflix October 9

No, it’s not a belated sequel to a certain similarly titled Steve Carell comedy. Instead, this black-and-white Sundance winner tells a relatable story through a fresh perspective. Radha Blank wrote, directed, and stars as the lead character, a playwright whose early success doesn’t seem to count for much now that she’s pushing 40. Reviving her long-dormant rap career may seem like an unlikely way to get out of such a slump, but Blank’s feature debut has some surprises in store—even if her knees aren’t as strong as they used to be.

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13 / 31

Time

Time

Select theaters October 9; Amazon Prime October 16

In the early ’90s, Rob and Fox Rich robbed a bank. Two decades later, he remains behind bars, and she’s devoted her life to prison reform, advocating tirelessly for her husband’s release. Garett Bradley’s Time takes a nonlinear approach to the story of this fractured family, cutting between modern footage of Fox’s campaign and the home videos she shot over the years, as she built a career as an entrepreneur and her children grew up. A selection of both Sundance and the New York Film Festivals, it’s one of the best and most artful documentaries of the year.

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The Wolf Of Snow Hollow

The Wolf Of Snow Hollow

Select theaters and VOD October 9

The actor-director Jim Cummings made a memorable debut with Thunder Road, a disarmingly sincere cringe comedy about a Texas patrolman experiencing a breakdown. His follow-up promises some of the same humor and insecurities (with Cummings once again playing a frustrated cop), but with a cheeky genre angle. A werewolf appears to be stalking the small mountain community of Snow Hollow, and it’s up to the local officers of the law to get to the bottom of things. In his final role, the late, great Robert Forster plays the sheriff.

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15 / 31

Trump Card

Trump Card

Digital platforms October 9

Cinema has attracted plenty of self-pitying hucksters, but none who have combined balls-out demagoguery and brain-dead incompetence as successfully as Dinesh D’Souza. The recipient of the prestigious presidential pardon for campaign finance fraud is at it again, raising alarm bells about whatever topics in the current news cycle will lead America into the clutches of International Bolshevism. Nationwide protests and an international health crisis may have thrown this country’s disregard for its citizenry into stark relief, but there’s a solution: four more years of Donald Trump. Please don’t actually watch this.

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Honest Thief

Honest Thief

Select theaters October 16

Look, it’s been a long year, and a lot of folks could use an unpretentious, Liam Neeson crime movie. Honest Thief, from Ozark creator Mark Williams, looks lower-rent than his best work—no offense to co-stars Jai Courtney, Kate Walsh, or Robert Patrick. Neeson plays a master bank robber who agrees to surrender himself and his loot in exchange for a reduced sentence, only to get double-crossed by crooked feds. Naturally, Neeson turns the tables right back; even more naturally, he gets to use his demolitions training. Hopefully this one finds its way to a natural VOD home sooner rather than later.

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17 / 31

The Trial Of The Chicago 7

The Trial Of The Chicago 7

Select theaters now; Netflix October 16

Aaron Sorkin’s typically gabby courtroom drama about the aftermath of the 1968 Democratic National Convention finally sees the light of day, with the West Wing creator taking over for a once-attached Steven Spielberg to direct his own script. Sacha Baron Cohen, Eddie Redmayne, Frank Langella, Jeremy Strong, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Mark Rylance, and John Carroll Lynch are just a few of the actors re-creating the famous conspiracy trial of a group of countercultural activists railroaded by the federal government after the police violently suppressed demonstrations in Chicago. The film, which has earned mostly positive reviews (though not from us), is playing now in select theaters. Those not looking to risk their lives for some talky, topical, grandstanding Sorkinese can catch it on Netflix later this month.
Read the A.V. Club’s review of The Trial Of The Chicago 7.

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Martin Eden

Martin Eden

Select and virtual theaters October 16

Although Jack London is best known in the United States for his wilderness stories, his novel Martin Eden has always enjoyed a strong reputation in Europe. Pietro Marcello’s loose adaptation transports the story to Naples in a deliberately murky part of the early 20th century. Luca Marinelli plays the title character, a working-class sailor who becomes a self-taught writer and intellectual; success only makes him more egotistical and jaded. (London, a socialist, intended the novel to be something of a cautionary tale about individualist philosophies.) Marcello’s movie received praise when it played the festival circuit last year, especially for Marinelli’s performance, which won the Best Actor prize at Venice.

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Rebecca

Rebecca

Select theaters and Netflix October 21

Ben Wheatley, the psychotronic English director behind Kill List and A Field In England, tries his hand at prestige material with this upscale adaptation of Daphne du Maurier’s novel about a naïve, nameless young woman (Lily James) who marries a widowed aristocrat (Armie Hammer). Moving into her husband’s estate, she finds herself overshadowed by the memory of his first wife, Rebecca, whose longtime housekeeper (Kristin Scott Thomas) holds the new arrival in contempt. Ironically, Wheatley’s film is bound to be overshadowed by a Rebecca of its own: the celebrated Alfred Hitchcock adaptation, which won the Oscar for Best Picture. Nonetheless, we’re eager to see how Wheatley applies his macabre sensibility to du Maurier’s Gothic story.

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20 / 31

After We Collided

After We Collided

Select theaters and VOD October 23

It’s the latest installment of the latest fanfic-turned-worldwide publishing phenomenon you’re either obsessed with or have never heard of. After stars Josephine Langford and Hero Fiennes Tiffin as Tessa Young and Hardin Scott, whose cutesy couple name, “Hessa,” belies the intensity of their on-again, off-again relationship. At the start of After We Collided, they’re off again, as Tessa tries to move on from the brooding, troubled young man who stole her heart in the first movie. But there are still three more books to adapt after this one, so it’s a safe bet that they’ll be on again by the time it’s over.

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21 / 31

The Empty Man

The Empty Man

Select theaters October 23

Disney continues to trudge through its Fox clearance sale as this horror-thriller shot in 2017 finally slips into theaters. At least, that’s the plan; the movie doesn’t seem to have a trailer yet, and who knows if theaters will even still be open in late October. It’s all part of the gripping spooky-season suspense! James Badge Dale stars as a haunted former cop who encounters a supernatural entity while on the trail of a missing girl. This adaptation of a Boom! Studios comic book is directed by David Prior, a behind-the-scenes documentarian for a number of films, including several David Fincher projects—so he at least knows what a creepy movie looks like.

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22 / 31

Bad Hair

Bad Hair

Hulu October 23

Having successfully adapted his Dear White People into a hit Netflix series, writer-director Justin Simien returns to cinema (though not to the big screen—thanks, COVID) with this pointed horror comedy. Set in the late 1980s, it follows an aspiring VJ (Elle Lorraine) who realizes that her career aspirations may hinge on appealing to white audiences and shareholders; to make herself over in the image they prefer, she visits a mysterious salon and leaves with a painfully grafted-on weave with a malevolent mind of its own. Bad Hair, which premiered on opening night of this year’s Sundance Film Festival, has fun low-fi effects and a lot on its mind, even if the plot suggests a horror-anthology episode stretched somewhat uncomfortably to feature length.

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23 / 31

Synchronic

Synchronic

Select theaters and drive-ins October 23

With each of their four features, writer-directors Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead (Spring, The Endless) have added new assets and techniques to their DIY toolkit. With Synchronic, the secret ingredient is big-name actors—namely, Jamie Dornan and Anthony Mackie, who star as New Orleans paramedics whose lives are turned inside out when they encounter a volatile new street drug that sends the user back in time…. but only for a few minutes, with no control over where or when. In some ways, this is a more Hollywood version of Benson and Moorhead. In others, it’s quintessentially theirs.

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24 / 31

The Craft: Legacy

The Craft: Legacy

VOD October 28

Part sequel, part reboot, writer-director Zoe Lister-Jones’ update of the teen-witch classic The Craft has big, pointy granny boots to fill. Not because the original film was a masterpiece, mind you—in many ways, Andy Fleming’s 1996 occult horror movie is just okay. But to ’90s kids who grew up drawing pentagrams on their notebooks, the nostalgia factor here is high. And those viewers may in fact be disappointed, as the initial trailer for Lister-Jones’ film is clearly aimed at a new generation of TikTok witches. Still, Legacy does boast one bit of Clinton-era catnip: David Duchovny as a hot dad.

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25 / 31

Come Play

Come Play

Select theaters October 30

As monikers go, “Larry” doesn’t exactly inspire a rash of preemptive goosebumps. But what’s in a name? Come Play’s mononymous threat certainly looks scary—he’s a pale and lurching beanstalk bogeyman who haunts the mobile devices of a young autistic boy (Azhy Robertson) and his spooked parents (Gillian Jacobs and John Gallagher Jr.). Though there’s a Blumhouse vibe to this first feature from writer-director Jacob Chase, expanded from his 2017 short “Larry,” Steven Spielberg’s Amblin actually financed—a good omen for any horror movie about suburban kids menaced by supernatural forces and a tall, dinosaurian something stomping around tight corners.

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26 / 31

Fatale

Fatale

Select theaters October 30

Michael Ealy breaks the golden rule of film noir protagonists: Never have sex with Hilary Swank when she’s a crooked police detective looking to embroil you in her sinister murder plot. Additional details about this thriller from Black And Blue and The Intruder’s Deon Tyler (including more than 12 seconds of teaser footage) are worryingly absent. But Ealy was probably the best thing about The Intruder, and there’s some promise to the idea of Swank throwing herself fully into the role of an old-school, over-the-top man-eater pulling his strings. Mike Colter and Geoffrey Owens co-star in a movie that, let’s face it, could very easily not come out at the end of this month.

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27 / 31

Fire Will Come

Fire Will Come

Virtual theaters October 30

Cannes regular Oliver Laxe (Mimosas) won that festival’s Un Certain Regard jury prize last year for this measured drama about a convicted arsonist (Amador Arias) who’s released from prison and returns to his hometown in rural Spain to live with his mother. Fire Will Come reportedly mixes appropriately fiery spectacle with elements of documentary, in a way that’s dazzled some cinephiles and frustrated others. Among the film’s fans, however, is none other than Parasite director Bong Joon Ho, who praised Laxe’s work during a recent feature in Sight & Sound Magazine.

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28 / 31

Mank

Mank

Netflix October

Mank
Mank
Photo: Netflix

In his first film since Gone Girl, David Fincher takes on a deeply personal project: a black-and-white biographical drama about Citizen Kane screenwriter Herman J. Mankiewicz (Gary Oldman) that was written by the director’s late father, Jack Fincher. That the VFX master of the meticulously underlit should take on a behind-the-scenes story about the most technically accomplished (and special-effects-filled) film of its time is almost too perfect. A leaked early draft of the script has been criticized for its portrayal of Orson Welles (Tom Burke) and its reliance on some discredited source material. But we have a feeling that Fincher isn’t out to deliver a dry history lesson.

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29 / 31

Plus

Plus

Books Of Blood
Books Of Blood
Photo: Hulu

Katherine Langford and Charlie Plummer fall in love while their classmates literally explode in the comedy Spontaneous (select drive-in theaters October 2; VOD and digital platforms October 6). Only the emotions are combustible in Eternal Beauty (VOD and digital platforms October 2), starring Sally Hawkins as a jilted, mentally ill woman who tiptoes into a romance with David Thewlis. In the ignoble tradition of such modern-tech horror movies as Friend Request and Countdown comes Do Not Reply (iTunes October 2), about teenage girls stalked and abducted through social media. World War II thriller A Call To Spy (select theaters and VOD October 2) casts Castle’s Stana Katic as a resistance fighter training new recruits to infiltrate and sabotage Nazi operations. Only Kodi Smit-McPhee can save the world from the post-apocalyptic climate crisis of 2067 (select theaters, VOD, and digital platforms October 2). Beyond Barricades: The Story Of Anti-Flag (Veeps October 3) salutes 25 years of rabble-rousing anthems from the political punk outfit. A frazzled doctor leaps into action during a civil war in Locarno selection South Terminal (MUBI October 3). Amazon Prime’s horror package Welcome To The Blumhouse launches with four spooky features: Black Box (October 6), The Lie (October 6), Evil Eye (October 13), and Nocturne (October 13). Not to be left out of the horror anthology fun, a new take on Clive Barker’s Books Of Blood (Hulu October 7) will also be streaming next week. Speaking of Barker, Midnight Meat Train director Ryûhei Kitamura returns with the action thriller The Doorman (Amazon Prime October 9), starring Ruby Rose and Jean Reno. Grammy winner and Tony nominee Eva Noblezada makes her feature debut as an aspiring Filipina American country star in Yellow Rose (select theaters October 9). For Halloween fun that the kids can watch and their parents can dutifully tolerate, there’s A Babysitter’s Guide To Monster Hunting (Netflix October 14), about a secret society of babysitters recruited to protect kids from the supernatural. Clouds (Disney+ October 6) tells the inspirational story of teenage musician Zach Sobiech, who scored a viral hit after being diagnosed with bone cancer. Final Destination screenwriter Jeffrey Reddick wrote and directed Don’t Look Back (select theaters and VOD October 16), a new horror movie about the repercussions of non-intervention. Silicon Valley’s Jimmy O. Yang plays an aspiring stand-up comedian in The Opening Act (select theaters, VOD, and digital platforms October 16). Frat comedy Shithouse (select theaters and VOD October 16) is probably better than its title, judging from its SXSW win. Edward James Olmos’ The Devil Has A Name (select theaters, VOD, and digital platforms October 16) is not seasonal genre fare—it’s the true story of a farmer (David Strathairn) sparring with the oil executive (Alfred Molina) who poisoned his land. Catherine Eaton wrote, directed, and stars in The Sounding (digital platforms October 20), about a woman raised without verbal language. Oscar-winning animator Glen Keane goes Over The Moon (Netflix October 23) with the musical adventures of a little girl who builds a rocket. Malin Akerman, Kat Dennings, Aisha Tyler, Chelsea Peretti, Wanda Sykes, and Ryan Hansen are among the guests at a presumably wacky Friendsgiving (select theaters, VOD, and digital platforms October 23). Not an ill-timed rerelease of the Woody Allen hit, Midnight In Paris (virtual theaters October 23) is instead a documentary about teenagers preparing for prom in Flint, Michigan. And the Sundance-approved horror film His House (Netflix October 30) pits a Sudanese refugee couple against an evil force in small-town England.

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30 / 31

Postponed

Postponed

Death On The Nile
Death On The Nile
Photo: Disney/20th Century Studios

No longer included among this month’s scare fare are the Candyman reboot and Halloween Kills, both of which have moved to 2021. Death On The Nile, the second film in Kenneth Branagh’s star-studded Agatha Christie franchise, is now currently scheduled for a mid-December release. Spider-Man quasi-spin-off Venom: Let There Be Carnage won’t open until at least next June, while G.I. Joe spin-off Snake Eyes will now drop next October. Tom Hanks sees another 2020 project delayed because of the virus he caught: his sci-fi drama Bios, which has warped to April. And Wes Anderson fans will have to wait until sometime next year for The French Dispatch.

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