CHICAGO - Spooky season is officially upon us, and with it comes werewolves, Cenobites, serial killers and more! (Not to mention, one very haunted Spirit Halloween store.) Those are just a few of the creatures you can see in theaters and on streaming platforms this month, in projects like Marvel’s new "Werewolf by Night" special, Hulu’s "Hellraiser" reboot, Jamie Lee Curtis’ highly anticipated "Halloween Ends" and Netflix’s spooky stop-motion horror-comedy "Wendell & Wild" from "Nightmare Before Christmas" director Henry Selick.
If spooky isn’t you thing, however, don’t fret. There’s plenty of counterprogramming this month too, including star-studded awards-season contenders like "Amsterdam" and "My Policeman" (hello Harry Styles!), not to mention an old-fashioned rom-com starring George Clooney and Julia Roberts. And, hey, if all else fails, there’s also Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson making his long-awaited superhero debut as "Black Adam." So read on for a full guide to all the biggest movies of October 2022.
Werewolf by Night (now streaming on Disney+)
Gael García Bernal in "Werewolf by Night." Photo: Marvel Studio
Marvel’s eclectic Phase Four gets even quirkier with the brand new Halloween special, "Werewolf by Night." Like nothing Marvel has done before, "Werewolf by Night" takes inspiration from horror movies of the 1930s and ’40s and unfolds in stylish black and white cinematography. Gael García Bernal stars as Jack Russell, a 'monster hunter' with an unconventional approach – and one who happens to be afflicted by a curse that turns him into a werewolf. One "dark and somber night," he ventures to the Bloodstone Temple to join a group of fellow monster hunters as they honor their fallen leader. But what starts as a memorial quickly turns into a deadly competition for a powerful relic. Acclaimed composer Michael Giacchino tries his hand at directing with this offbeat special, which promises to be both macabre and suspenseful. And if you like what you see here, you can also look forward to the "The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special" in December.
Amsterdam (now in theaters)
Christian Bale, Margot Robbie and John David Washington in "Amsterdam." Photo by 20th Century Studios
Easily one of the most star-studded films of the year, "Amsterdam" boasts an impressive ensemble featuring the likes of Christian Bale, Margot Robbie, John David Washington, Robert De Niro, Chris Rock, Anya Taylor-Joy, Rami Malek and even Taylor Swift. So what’s the story? It’s a true one, kind of. Set in the 1930s, "Amsterdam" centers on a trio of friends who get caught up in a murder mystery that could have wide-reaching complications — not just for themselves, but for the whole country, and maybe even the world. It’s the latest project from director David O. Russell, who had an acclaimed run with "The Fighter," "Silver Linings Playbook" and "American Hustle" before losing some of his mojo with 2015’s "Joy." (Russell has also been accused of abuse and assault in several different instances over the years.) While early critical reaction to "Amsterdam" has been mixed, the film certainly isn’t lacking for star power.
Rated R. 134 minutes. Dir: David O. Russell. Featuring: Christian Bale, Margot Robbie, John David Washington, Alessandro Nivola, Andrea Riseborough, Anya Taylor-Joy, Chris Rock, Matthias Schoenaerts, Michael Shannon, Mike Myers, Taylor Swift, Timothy Olyphant, Zoe Saldaña, Rami Malek, Robert De Niro.
Hellraiser (now streaming on Hulu)
Jamie Clayton in "Hellraiser." Photo: Spyglass Media Group
The era of the horror reboot finds its latest target in "Hellraiser," director David Bruckner’s reimagining of Clive Barker’s 1987 horror classic (which was itself based on Barker’s 1986 novella "The Hellbound Heart"). The 1987 film famously introduced the world to "Pinhead" (Doug Bradley), the spiky antagonist who pops up in all nine of the film’s sequels (with Bradley appearing in seven of them). And now "Sense8" star Jamie Clayton steps into the iconic role in this reimagining of Barker’s original novella. When a troubled young woman named Riley (Odessa A’zion) comes into possession of an ancient puzzle box, she accidentally summons a group of extra-dimensional, sadomasochistic beings known as Cenobites. From there, pain and pleasure mix to fright-filled effect in one of the main titles in Hulu’s annual "Huluween" slate.
Rated R. Dir: David Bruckner. Featuring: Odessa A’zion, Jamie Clayton, Adam Faison, Drew Starkey, Brandon Flynn, Aoife Hinds, Jason Liles, Yinka Olorunnife, Selina Lo, Zachary Hing, Kit Clarke, Goran Visnjic, Hiam Abbass.
Spirit Halloween (available on VOD)
Christopher Lloyd in "Spirit Halloween." Photo by Strike Back Studios.
A cynical cash grab or a funny in-joke? You decide as Spirit Halloween — yes, the chain of Halloween stores — releases a movie about... a Spirit Halloween store! Specifically, it’s a haunted one, which three middle school best friends discover when they decide to spend the night locked inside on Halloween. But when an angry evil spirit starts possessing the stores’ creepy animatronic characters, the kids have to find a way to survive the night and avoid becoming possessed themselves. Rachel Leigh Cook and Christopher Lloyd are also on hand to lend a little gravitas to this oddball project. Let’s just hope it finds a way to use that catchy Spirit Halloween theme song from comedian Nick Lutsko.
WATCH FREE ON TUBI: A friendly ghost takes center stage in 1995’s "Casper" — get the app
Halloween Ends (in theaters and streaming on Peacock Oct. 14)
Jamie Lee Curtis and Rohan Campbell in "Halloween Ends." Photo: Ryan Green/Universal Pictures
David Gordon Green’s rebooted "Halloween" franchise has gone through quite a rollercoaster ride these past few years. While 2018’s "Halloween" was hailed as a refreshing return to form for Jamie Lee Curtis’ Laurie Strode and her arch-nemesis Michael Myers, 2021’s "Halloween Kills" was deemed a messy, convoluted follow-up. Now "Halloween Ends" is hoping the third time is the charm. Set four years after the events of "Kills," "Ends" promises to deliver a last stand for Laurie; a showdown with Michael in which "only one of them will survive." Of course, the "Halloween" franchise has made those kinds of promises before, only to go back on its word. But if "Ends" really is the end, let’s hope it’s one worthy of this hallowed slasher series — and its iconic final girl.
WATCH FREE ON TUBI: Jame Lee Curtis in the horror classics "Prom Night" and "Terror Train" — get the app
Till (in select theaters Oct. 14; opens nationwide Oct. 28)
Danielle Deadwyler and Jalyn Hall in "Till." Photo: United Artists Releasing
In this Civil Rights biopic, director and co-writer Chinonye Chukwu approaches the tragic story of Emmett Till from a thoughtful and unexpected perspective. Rather than depict the lynching of 14-year-old Emmett (Jalyn Hall), "Till" centers on his mother Mamie Till-Mobley (Danielle Deadwyler) and her "resilience and courage in the face of adversity and unspeakable devastation." In a director’s statement, Chukwu explains that she wanted her film to be "rooted in the balance between loss in the absence of love; the inconsolable grief in the absence of joy; and the embrace of Black life alongside the heart wrenching loss of a child." With its aim to "champion Mamie’s legacy and center her in the spotlight where she rightfully belongs," "Till" is already one of the most acclaimed film to emerge from this year’s fall festival season.
The School for Good and Evil (streaming on Netflix Oct. 19)
Michelle Yeoh, Charlize Theron and Kerry Washington in "The School for Good and Evil." Photo: Helen Sloan / Netflix
Step aside Hogwarts, there’s a new magic school in town. Based on Soman Chainani’s best-selling young adult fantasy series, "The School for Good and Evil" takes place at a magical academy where the true story behind every great fairy tale begins — and where heroes and villains learn their respective roles. But when best friends Sophie (Sophia Anne Caruso) and Agatha (Sofia Wylie) wind up on the wrong sides of the good/bad divide, things start to go haywire. Good thing they’ve got plenty of moral support from teachers played by Kerry Washington, Charlize Theron, Laurence Fishburne and Michelle Yeoh — not to mention classmates who include the offspring of the Wicked Witch, Captain Hook and King Arthur. Director Paul Feig ("Ghosterbusters," "Bridesmaids") helms what Netflix clearly hopes will be its new ongoing fantasy series.
Rated PG-13. 148 minutes. Dir: Paul Feig. Featuring: Kerry Washington, Charlize Theron, Sophia Anne Caruso, Sofia Wylie, Laurence Fishburne, Michelle Yeoh, Jamie Flatters, Kit Young, Peter Serafinowicz, Rob Delaney, Mark Heap, Patti LuPone, Rachel Bloom.
Black Adam (in theaters Oct. 21)
Dwayne Johnson in "Black Adam." Photo: Warner Bros. Pictures
Get ready for the hierarchy of power in the DC Universe to change as Dwayne Johnson makes his long-awaited debut as Black Adam — a superpowered anti-hero billed as "the Dirty Harry of superheroes." Born a slave in the ancient city of Kahndaq, Black Adam was bestowed with the almighty power of the gods, only to wind up imprisoned for 5,000 years. Finally freed from his earthly tomb, he sets about unleashing his "unique form of justice" on the modern world. So, yes, even though "Black Adam" is directed by Johnson’s recent "Jungle Cruise" collaborator Jaume Collet-Serra, expect more head-smashing than wise-cracking. And expect Johnson to be pretty invested in this one too. He’s been attached to play Black Adam since way back in 2007, when the character was originally supposed to appear as a villain in the "Shazam!" movie. Hopefully it’s worth the wait.
My Policeman (in theaters Oct. 21; streaming on Prime Video Nov. 4)
David Dawson, Emma Corrin and Harry Styles in "My Policeman." Photo: Amazon Studios
After making his leading man debut in last month’s "Don’t Worry Darling," Harry Styles is already back with another major acting role. This time around he plays Tom Burgess, a gay policeman living in 1950s Britain. Unable to live freely, Tom marries a school teacher named Marion ("The Crown" star Emma Corrin) while carrying on an affair with museum curator Patrick (David Dawson). The trio’s complicated relationship carries over into flashforwards to the 1990s, where they’re played by Linus Roache, Gina McKee and Rupert Everett, respectively. Based on a novel by Bethan Roberts, this romantic drama aims to explore forbidden love, changing social conventions, longing, regret and forgiveness. And it could wind up being a major contender in this year’s awards season — perhaps even for Styles himself.
Ticket to Paradise (in theaters Oct. 21)
Julia Roberts and George Clooney in "Ticket to Paradise." Photo: Vince Valitutti/Universal Studios
It’s been a tumultuous time for romantic comedies these past few years, as rom-coms have increasingly found success on streaming platforms, even as acclaimed romances like "Bros" struggle to connect at the box office. Will the reunion of Julia Roberts and George Clooney be enough to lure rom-com fans back to theaters? "Ticket to Paradise" sure hopes so! Helmed by "Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again" director Ol Parker, "Ticket to Paradise" stars Clooney and Roberts as a divorced couple who find themselves on a shared mission to stop their daughter (Kaitlyn Dever) from marrying too young at her impromptu Bali wedding. But could this romantic heist be the very thing that brings the former couple back together? Hey, it worked in "Ocean’s Eleven."
The Banshees of Inisherin (in theaters Oct. 21)
Colin Farrell and Barry Keoghan in "The Banshees of Inisherin." Photo: Jonathan Hession/Searchlight Pictures
With fantastic early buzz out of the Venice and Toronto film festivals, the dark comedy "The Banshees of Inisherin" is already shaping up to be a major player this awards season. Particularly for Colin Farrell, who stars as an Irish man named Pádraic who’s shocked when his lifelong pal Colm (Brendan Gleeson) suddenly ends their friendship. Confused, Pádraic sets about trying to repair the relationship at any cost — even as Colm delivers a hefty ultimatum. And while that might sound like a simple premise, it could be something special in the hands of writer/director Martin McDonagh ("Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri"), who previously made magic with Farrell and Gleeson in the 2008 dark-comedy crime thriller "In Bruges."
The Good Nurse (streaming on Netflix Oct. 26)
Eddie Redmayne and Jessica Chastain in "The Good Nurse." Photo: JoJo Whilden / Netflix
Another potential awards season player, "The Good Nurse" dramatizes the real-life story of a compassionate nurse named Amy (Jessica Chastain) who finds herself embroiled in a dangerous investigation when patients start mysteriously dying at her hospital. Could the culprit by Charlie (Eddie Redmayne), the seemingly empathetic new nurse she’s formed a close friendship with? She’ll have to risk her life — and the safety of her children — to find out in this tense thriller from Danish director Tobias Lindholm. And, hey, if one version of this story isn’t enough, Netflix is also releasing a true crime documentary about the same subject matter called "Capturing the Killer Nurse." That will hit Netflix on Nov. 11, while "The Good Nurse" will also play in select theaters starting Oct. 19.
Call Jane (in theaters on Oct. 28)
Elizabeth Banks in "Call Jane." Photo: Protagonist Pictures
It felt like an eerie bit of timing when HBO debuted "The Janes" — a documentary about an underground 1960s abortion service — just weeks before the Supreme Court decision on Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Center overturned nearly five decades of Roe v. Wade. And it will likely feel just as eerie to watch "Call Jane" tell a fictionalized version of that same story. Starring Elizabeth Banks and Sigourney Weaver, "Call Jane" explores the history of the Jane Collective, a real-life Chicago organization that helped women access safe abortions in the late 1960s and early 1970s, at a time when the procedure was illegal in most of the United States. As film critic Caroline Siede wrote in her review of the film from this year’s Sundance Film Festival, "Anchored by Banks’ carefully calibrated performance and plenty of elegantly understated long takes from director Phyllis Nagy (the Oscar-nominated screenwriter of "Carol"), "Call Jane" uses a light touch to make the abortion experience feel exactly like what it is: normal."
WATCH FOR FREE ON TUBI: Phyllis Nagy’s Oscar-nominated screenplay for "Carol" — get the app
Wendell & Wild (streaming on Netflix Oct. 28)
Wendell (voiced by Keegan-Michael Key) and Wild (voiced by Jordan Peele in "Wendell & Wild." Photo: Netflix
There are two big headlines with "Wendell & Wild." For one thing, it’s the welcome reunion of former comedy partners Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele, who lend their voices to the titular roles. For another, it’s also the welcome return of stop-motion animation director Henry Selick, the creative visionary behind "The Nightmare Before Christmas," "James and the Giant Peach" and "Coraline." Selick co-wrote the screenplay with Peele, which follows scheming demon brothers Wendell (Key) and Wild (Peele) as they enlist a tough teenage girl to summon them to the Land of the Living. What follows is a "bizarre and comedic adventure" in an animated fantasy that "defies the law of life and death." Sounds perfect for Halloween. ("Wendell & Wild" will also play in select theaters starting Oct. 21.)
WATCH FREE ON TUBI: Keegan-Michael Key lends his voice to "The Angry Birds Movie" — get the app
Armageddon Time (in select theaters Oct. 28; nationwide Nov. 11)
Anne Hathaway and Anthony Hopkins in "Armageddon Time." Photo: Anne Joyce / Focus Features
Acclaimed writer/director James Gray returns this month with his first film since 2019’s "Ad Astra." And while that sci-fi epic took Brad Pitt to the cosmos, "Armageddon Time" is a much more personal tale. Set in 1980s New York, the film is heavily inspired by Gray’s own childhood growing up in a boisterous Jewish home in Queens. His onscreen avatar is Paul Graff (Banks Repeta), a precocious sixth grader who lives with his mom Esther (Anne Hathaway), his dad Irving (Jeremy Strong), his grandmother Mickey (Tovah Feldshuh) and his grandfather Aaron (Anthony Hopkins). But when Paul befriends a Black classmate named Johnny (Jaylin Webb), he begins to grapple with the way entitlement, prejudice and racism seem to exist in every corner of the American Dream.
WATCH FREE ON TUBI: James Gray’s acclaimed period drama "The Immigrant" — get the app
About the writer: Caroline Siede is a film and TV critic in Chicago, where the cold never bothers her anyway. A member of the Chicago Film Critics Association, she spent four years lovingly analyzing the romantic comedy genre one film at a time in her column When Romance Met Comedy for The A.V. Club. She also co-hosts the movie podcast, Role Calling, and shares her pop culture opinions on Twitter (@carolinesiede).
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