Whether you’re standing in the theater lobby or curled up in bed, deciding what to watch next is often the most difficult part of any pop-culture junkie’s day. And with dozens of films in theaters on any given weekend, plus virtually endless layers of streaming purgatory to sort through in search of your next binge-watch, there’s more out there—and tougher decisions to make—than ever.
Fortune’s here to help you navigate the week’s latest offerings, boiling all the entertainment out there down into three distinct recommendations: Should you see it, stream it, or skip it? Find out below.
SEE IT: ‘The Invisible Man’ (In theaters)
When you hear “monster movie,” chances are you’re not picturing Hugh Jackman in Van Helsing, Luke Evans in Dracula Untold, or Tom Cruise in The Mummy. Nothing in Universal’s recent attempts to dust off the old bones of such iconic characters in its stable, others including Frankenstein and the Wolfman, has been able to match those black-and-white originals, Lon Chaney Jr. on the prowl and Bela Lugosi in the cape and fangs.
But faced with the challenge of modernizing its monsters, Universal has misstepped most by diminishing how scary those classics were for their time, attributing their success to makeup more than atmosphere and putting more effort into affixing blockbuster trappings than crafting anything truly frightening.
With The Invisible Man, Universal has made its best monster movie in at least 20 years—longer, if your soft spot for genre pulp doesn’t quite extend to Stephen Sommers’s silly, globe-trotting Mummy remake—by keeping the budget trim and the scares plentiful. That is to say, the studio has done what it should have been doing all along and made an actual horror movie.
Credit writer-director Leigh Whannell (Upgrade), who’s made a number of smart choices in updating this concept, with isolating themes of voyeurism, psychological manipulation, and toxic masculinity that have been nestled at the dark heart of The Invisible Man since H.G. Wells’ 1897 novel. Where James Whale’s 1933 film version played up the titular villain’s megalomaniacal ambitions, Whannell’s take shifts the focus to his main victim, as she flees an abusive ex-boyfriend who’s mastered the art of being out of sight while entirely omnipresent.
For Cecilia (Elisabeth Moss), there’s no choice but to leave Adrian (Oliver Jackson-Cohen, The Haunting of Hill House), a tyrannically controlling boyfriend who’s made his fortune as a world leader in optics. In a bravura opening sequence, she escapes their shared home, a modernist fortress by the sea, and hides out with a friend (Aldis Hodge), only to learn that Adrian has killed himself, apparently out of grief. But if Adrian’s gone, why can she feel a pair of eyes watching her from every corner?
When it comes to portraying women in extremis, nobody’s better than Moss. From a woman held captive by her dystopian society on The Handmaid’s Tale to a rock star spiraling out of control in Her Smell, her characters often splinter under psychological pressure even as they rebel against external forces. They may be disempowered, but they’re far from powerless.
In The Invisible Man, acting against empty hallways and open air, she’s afforded one of her finest showcases yet for this kind of performance. Whannell cleverly weaponizes dead space and long shadows, manipulating the frame around Moss, playing with focus and favoring shots that lurk down hallways; the effect, as audiences essentially stalk Cecilia through her attempts to start a new life, is altogether chilling.
So, too, is this Invisible Man‘s instincts when it comes to modernizing scares. Whannell’s known as something of a horror re-animator, between his despairing A.I. parable Upgrade (a better RoboCop remake than the RoboCop remake) and the Saw franchise (the first to re-envision splatter-horror as a morality play twisted enough to transfix post-9/11 audiences wrestling with the ethics of torture). But The Invisible Man might be his most impressive trick yet, a thematically cogent and frequently terrifying tale of gaslighting and domestic abuse that never feels for a moment less than organically suited to this material. It’s more than meets the eye, in all the best ways.
SEE/STREAM IT: ‘Blood on Her Name’ (In limited theaters/VOD)
Recalling Blue Ruin and Blood Simple in both its Southern Gothic setting and thrillingly stripped-down execution, Blood on Her Name doesn’t stand on ceremony.
By the first shot of Matthew Pope’s quietly assured and compelling debut, blood has already been spilled. It’s pooling, slick like oil, across the cold floor of a car repair shop. It belongs to a man Leigh (Bethany Anne Lind) has just killed, in what she says was an act of self-defense after he broke in.
Leigh, undoubtedly in shock, makes the decision to hide the body. It’s a rash, plainly bad move, but Leigh is at a loss for how to navigate a situation she never could have anticipated finding herself in, and she panics. Rowing the body to the middle of a lake, she prepares to toss it overboard—that’s when the dead man’s phone rings, and Leigh can’t help but listen to the voicemail that gets left. From there, Blood on Her Name twists, not for the last time, moving in a direction different than you might expect but that brings us further inside Leigh’s fraught headspace.
Methodically and with brutal efficiency, Blood on Her Name charts the fallout of this act of violence, as Leigh struggles to remain calm in front of her son (Jared Ivers), the repair shop owner (Jimmy Gonzales), and her crooked cop father, Richard (Will Patton), who’s estranged but still in the area. Leigh’s not the only one balancing on a knife’s edge. But as her desperate attempts to do what she feels is right in a very bad situation threaten to make it even worse, these characters are drawn in.
Richard, especially, senses that something is amiss; he recognizes not only guilt in Leigh’s eyes but the specific type, and he reacts with horror. Why Leigh does what she does—more than how—is the question Pope and cowriter Don M. Thompson so elegantly pose, and the answer is complex. Blood on Her Name is as much about fathers and daughters as it is crime and consequence, about the ways in which certain violence might be hereditary, preordained by the sins of the father.
“I keep thinking I hear sirens,” Leigh says at one point in the film. “Is that weird?” It’s to the script’s credit—and a tribute to the brute strength of Lind’s performance—that one can’t quite figure out the tenor of her voice, whether she’d be happier in handcuffs than living free in a cell of her own invention. In its taut and low-simmering way, Blood on Her Name is just as impressive a revival, and devastating an indictment, of this subgenre as Blue Ruin, another thriller of ruthless pragmatism in which violence existed, as it tends to, as a closed loop. Spilling blood can bring no relief, no victory—from it, there can be no escape, no absolution. Thoughtful, precise, and filled with foreboding, Blood on Her Name is a pulp-noir thriller of the highest caliber.
STREAM IT: ‘I Am Not Okay With This’ (Netflix)
Cross The End of the F—ing World with Carrie and you’re halfway to Netflix’s I Am Not Okay With This, which centers on Syd (Sophia Lillis, of the It franchise), a young girl who uncovers psychic powers while reckoning with the trauma of her father’s suicide.
The similarities aren’t coincidental, of course. Adapted from the work of graphic novelist Charles Forsman by director Jonathan Entwistle (the same duo behind The End of the F—ing World), I Am Not Okay With This often feels genetically engineered in a lab to specifically appeal to fans of Netflix’s previously most popular originals and by proxy much of ’80s popular culture.
Its small-town setting and exploration of special powers aren’t the only elements that feel very Stranger Things—despite being set in the modern day, the show’s teens all dress and stunt like they were born in ’75—and there’s more than a touch of Sex Education to the scenes set at Syd’s high school. Even the less easy-to-place ingredients (a charged and endearingly confused dynamic between Syd and her best friend, an insinuation Syd’s abilities may have been inherited) can be traced to the series’ main influences, Stephen King and John Hughes.
All of this is to say that I Am Not Okay With This feels less than revelatory in its approach to the superpowered coming-of-age subgenre. But at seven episodes (each clocking in at about 20 minutes, bringing the entire first season under The Irishman‘s runtime), it’s also so swift and economical as to not outstay its welcome.
It helps that Lillis, despite being saddled with some fairly lazy dialogue at times (“Dear diary,” she says in a voice-over, “go f— yourself”), has a real star presence about her, a manner of holding the screen even when she’s doing little more than glowering into space. It’s true that this performance falls neatly in line with her work in It, to the degree one could argue she was typecast (though one could make a stronger case for fellow Derry holdover Wyatt Oleff, playing another geeky beanpole named Stan, just like in It). But a more character-driven spin on the psychic-powers subgenre needs a dependably charismatic lead, and Lillis fits the bill nicely. Even better are her scenes with Sofia Bryant, playing a BFF whose loyalties have become hopelessly split between Syd and her meathead boyfriend Brad (Richard Ellis).
As I Am Not Okay With This heads into its first-season finale, future seasons are teased in ways more frustrating than invigorating, and one wonders whether the sleepy, small-scale appeal of this first season is simply a doorway to something bigger, broader, and more clichéd. Let’s hope not. If it’s to be considered a first chapter, the series will need to sharpen its edges, particularly in terms of scriptwriting, and work a little harder to carve out its own niche in the future. But as taken as a speedy binge-watch, a coming-of-age yarn propped up by solid performances and amusingly mordant humor, I was more than okay with it.
The best of the rest:
On Hulu, now streaming is After the Wedding, one of those rare American remakes of a foreign title that adds something more to its something borrowed. The story—an orphanage director is forced to reckon with their past after flying home to accept a donation from a financier, only to recognize the benefactor’s spouse as an ex-flame—remains more or less the same, with one twist. Enlisting Julianne Moore and Michelle Williams to act opposite Billy Crudup as two points in its fraught love triangle, this Bart Freundlich–directed remake of the Susanna Bier–helmed Danish Oscar nominee flips the original’s genders, a decision that complicates the story in intriguing, ultimately satisfying ways.
On Netflix, Jerry Maguire is available to stream on Saturday. On Tubi, meanwhile, that date will see Haywire, a hard-hitting actioner with Gina Carano, become available along with a cohort of other ’00s classics, including Black Hawk Down, Swordfish, Road to Perdition, and Legally Blonde.
More must-read stories from Fortune:
—Emma. star and director on updating Jane Austen’s text through blood and tears
—Netflix and Disney+ prepare to do battle in Europe
—No, A.I. isn’t deciding which movies to green-light
—Breaking Bad ended six years ago—but Better Call Saul and merchandise keep gaining steam
—Contagion writer, scientific adviser reflect on film’s newfound relevance amid coronavirus crisis
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