Trespassers

Don’t answer the door after dark.

That’s pretty much rule #1 in any thriller — as whatever, or whomever, is on the other side of the door probably isn’t there to sell you Girl Scout cookies.

But the trashy twentysomethings hanging out in this Southwestern Airbnb aren’t the brightest, so in waltzes Fairuza Balk as a mysterious “neighbor,” followed soon after by suspicious cops and mask-wearing thugs.

Everyone is looking for a missing photo, the type of which could compromise careers, setting off a violent chain-reaction of deaths, accidental and otherwise.

Not a classic, but it gets the job done for 88 minutes.

Predestination

Ready to melt your brain?

This dizzy, never-boring time travel odyssey is so complex that to explain all its twists and turns would take a lot more than the 100 words this blog allows me.

Like a lot, lot.

Suffice it to say that if you enjoy seeing Ethan Hawke command the screen (and who doesn’t?), firmly grab on to your couch and hold on for dear life as the convoluted plot plays out.

Based on a Robert A. Heinlein story, it bobs and weaves, backtracks and mystifies, and leaves you feeling both disorientated and giddy.

Exactly what the doctor ordered.

Cape Fear (1991)

It’s its own thing.

Martin Scorsese’s remake of the early ’60s revenge thriller tells a familiar story, but puts a unique spin on events.

Robert De Niro, ranting, raving, and having a grand old time, steps into Robert Mitchum’s shoes as a man deeply aggrieved at having spent a chunk of his life in jail.

He’s a scumbag, and revels in it, but still blames compromised lawyer Nick Nolte for not helping him beat the charges.

Emerging from jail to teach the counselor a painful lesson, De Niro reminds us how good he can be when he’s fully committed.

 

Ava

Come for the action, stay for the angst.

This tale of an assassin coming to terms with her life choices does offer its fair share of herky-jerky scenes of Jessica Chastain opening a case of whup-ass.

But it’s actually the quieter moments, such as those where our world-weary hit woman has emotionally-charged conversations with mom Geena Davis and boss John Malkovich that have the biggest impact.

Davis, an action hero from a different era (go watch Cutthroat Island now!) gets to deliver one tightly-wound confessional which will put most of this year’s Oscar contenders to shame.

She shoots, and scores.

Brown’s Requiem

Dirty dudes doin’ dirty deeds.

James Ellroy is a master of twisty detective tales, and, if this one isn’t quite to the level of L.A. Confidential, it’s still a good try.

Michael Rooker, appropriately grizzled and haunted by the bottle, is a down-on-his-luck PI, booted from the LAPD, reduced to taking low-rent jobs to keep creditors at bay.

Falling down a rabbit hole lined with slinky dames, crooked cops, and brain-deficient thugs, our rumpled hero works a beat familiar to anyone prone to mainlining noir.

There aren’t many ways out of this sticky situation, and all of them will sting.