Friday movie roundup – Oct. 16

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The much-anticipated “Where the Wild Things Are” (review at Film.com) has some wonderful moments and many beautiful elements, but it didn’t quite come together for me as a whole. The kid in it, Max Records, is terrific, though.

“Wild Things” is a lot better than the hyphen-omitting “Law Abiding Citizen,” a ludicrous revenge thriller that thinks it’s a lot smarter than it is. Gerard Butler and Jamie Foxx can both do much better than this. (Well, Foxx can. Between this and “The Ugly Truth,” I’m starting to wonder about Butler.)

Then there’s “Paranormal Activity,” which Paramount hopes you’ve been hearing buzz about for the last few weeks. Their marketing strategy of opening in only a few cities and claiming they wouldn’t expand it until enough people went to their website to “demand” it (yeah, right) has paid off with stellar per-theater box office scores. And it’s a great horror film, too, really creepy and fun and unsettling.

I actually saw it during Sundance 2008 (on the day Heath Ledger died!). It was playing at Slamdance and someone had a DVD screener that several of us watched in someone’s hotel room. But it was my fifth movie of the day, and we didn’t start it until 11:30 p.m., and I was unconscious for much of it. When I saw it again for real last week here in Portland, most of it felt new, though there were certain key images and events that had stuck with me. Anyway, good stuff, and it’s now playing in wide release.

I wonder how it will do against another thriller, “The Stepfather,” which opens today as one of Hollywood’s Shameful Secrets®. Those PG-13-rated horror films tend to go the non-screening route, and usually for good reason. It’s from the same writer and director as last year’s “Prom Night” and seems geared toward teenage girls and their boyfriends. Review to come.

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