Friday movie roundup – Oct. 26

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Here’s why I’m sick of the “Saw” movies.

In the pre-“Saw” days, you could usually count on one seriously lousy horror film to come out the weekend before Halloween. Scrolling through my review archives I see gems like “Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2” (2000), “Thirteen Ghosts” (2001), and “Ghost Ship” (2002). In 2003, there was “The House of the Dead” on Oct. 10 and “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” (which I kinda liked) on Oct. 17.

Then “Saw” arrived for Halloween 2004, made a pot of money, and started monopolizing the weekend. Now nobody releases crappy horror movies the last week of October because they know they’ll be competing with the latest “Saw” installment.

Yeah, the movies were usually terrible — but at least there was a variety! Now it’s always “Saw.” It’s even on the poster for “Saw IV”: “If it’s Halloween, it must be ‘Saw.'” In other words: “We didn’t make this movie because we had a great idea for a story. We made it because it’s Halloween.”

Anyway, they didn’t screen “Saw IV” for critics; they quit doing that after “Saw II.” But there were midnight showings last night, and my long-time friend and occasional “Snide Remarks” character Rob (you remember Rob) braved the late hour to attend with me. We were just about the oldest people in the theater, given that we are in our early 30s and most of the people who would go to a “Saw” film at midnight are about 18.

Also this week, two movies whose titles sound alike: “Dan in Real Life” and “Lars and the Real Girl.” The former stars Steve Carell as an advice columnist whose personal life is in a state of upheaval; the latter stars Ryan Gosling as a shy man who falls in love with a life-size rubber sex doll. Both are surprising — “Dan” for being smart and funny despite its premise, and “Lars” for being sweet, wholesome, and uplifting despite its premise. (He doesn’t actually, um, “use” the doll.)

The eye-opening Darfur documentary “The Devil Came on Horseback” is making the rounds before its DVD release, so you might catch that on the big screen if you get a chance, and if you want to feel outraged and horrified, and really, who doesn’t?

We also have late reviews of last week’s “The Comebacks” and Tyler Perry’s latest “Why Did I Get Married?” In neither case is a review useful, since both movies are approximately as bad as you thought they would be.