Arriving imminently on DVD and Blu-Ray, compelling wilderness thriller Wind River marks the directorial debut of Hell or High Water writer, Taylor Sheridan. Set amidst the frigid, snowy wastes of Wyoming, the story pairs Jeremy Renner’s tracker with Elizabeth Olsen’s FBI agent in a murder mystery that plays out against a spectacular backdrop.
Wind River is the only cracking thriller to have been released this year – here’s our roundup of some others you may have missed.
Kicking off 2017 in fine style, M. Night Shyamalan’s comeback thriller hinges on a disturbing, engrossing performance from James McAvoy as a troubled man harbouring multiple personalities in his head. From lisping Harry Potter fan Hedwig to prim Patricia to, eventually, the animalistic, terrifying Beast, McAvoy delivers a masterclass in physical performance and different accents. His Kevin will return in Shyamalan’s Unbreakable sequel, Glass, starring Bruce Willis and Samuel L. Jackson.
Jordan Peele’s directorial debut is one of the most confident, assured and uproariously entertaining in many years. Fusing Invasion of the Body Snatchers with Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, the movie is, in Peele’s words, “a documentary” that cannily targets the insidious, troubling spectre of covert liberal racism, rather than the more overt hate-mongering we’ve come to expect. As the black guy who is targeted by his white girlfriend’s family, Daniel Kaluuya gives a brilliantly charismatic performance in a thriller that mines as many laughs as it does scares.
Always a filmmaker adept at pushing our buttons, Paul Verhoeven demonstrates he hasn’t lost his famously nasty touch in this prickly, jet-black rape revenge odyssey. Isabelle Huppert is typically outstanding as the victim of a violent sexual assault who decides to track down the assailant herself without the aid of the police, the reason being her father was a notorious serial killer whose legacy has tarnished her own life. The movie boldly toys with our sympathies as Huppert’s character veers between victim and vigilante, and exposes plenty of hot topic issues regarding sexuality in our society (Huppert’s character is herself a designer of gratuitous, exploitative, sexually charged video games).
It Comes At Night
Sandwiched in between the likes of Dunkirk, War for the Planet of the Apes and Spider-Man: Homecoming, this terrific, paranoid gem has exactly the same amount of potency as its bigger-budget brethren. Rich in ambiguity, the story takes place in a world seemingly ravaged by a deadly viral outbreak, as one family retreat inside their woodland home only accessible by one red door. In the central role Joel Edgerton gives a superb performance and the shot of the aforementioned, innocuous door becomes one of the year’s most terrifying images.
Taylor Sheridan is fast becoming the modern-day chronicler of the ever-mercurial American frontier, having written the likes of border thriller Sicario and last year’s triumphant Jeff Bridges drama, Hell or High Water. Swapping the arid atmosphere of those films for the snow-blasted wastes of the American interior, Wind River has altogether more tragic dimensions, touching on Native American exploitation, fractured families and the search for a young girl’s killer. As the central pairing, Jeremy Renner and Elizabeth Olsen are an impressive chalk and cheese duo.
Not strictly speaking a thriller, Darren Aronofsky’s hugely controversial movie in fact refuses any kind of genre pigeonholing. Inscrutable, shocking and surreal, the movie is a subjective nightmare taking us inside the head of the eponymous Mother (Jennifer Lawrence), exposing her neuroses and fears as her home and marriage come under threat.
What begins as a relatively straightforward home invasion thriller in the mode of Roman Polanski soon heads down some truly puzzling avenues loaded with Biblical allegory. It confounded as many people as it won over, but it’s terrific to see a major studio taking a risk on a project like this in the modern age.
The Limehouse Golem
Peter Ackroyd’s 1994 mystery novel ‘Dan Leno and the Limehouse Golem’ receives a ripe, textured adaptation courtesy of Kingsman screenwriter, Jane Goldman. Plunging us into the grubby, murky atmosphere of the Victorian music halls this is a complex narrative about the hunt from an elusive serial killer, intriguingly traversing both fact and fiction as it recounts the story from multiple perspectives. These include a tortured Bill Nighy as Inspector John Kildaire, an impressive Olivia Cooke as actress Elizabeth Cree and Douglas Booth as the aforementioned musical star, Dan Leno.
Happy Death Day
Groundhog Day meets Scream in this witty and oddly endearing horror-comedy. Jessica Rothe is terrific as the air-headed sorority girl forced to relive her grisly murder at the hands of a masked killer over and over again, a template that elevates the movie beyond basic jump scare tactics into something far more sly and darkly comic. That said there are some ghoulish set-pieces on offer, one standoff in the confines of a bedroom proving especially tense.
Murder on the Orient Express
Kenneth Branagh injects renewed vigour and swagger into Agatha Christie’s legendary detective, Hercule Poirot, in this energetic adaptation. The latest big screen take on Christie’s famous story, the movie is rich in retro design and also pleasingly resurrects the notion of the all-star ensemble, every frame bursting with famous A-list faces. The likes of Michelle Pfeiffer, Judi Dench and Daisy Ridley all jostle for position but really it’s Branagh’s impressively moustachioed Poirot who steals the show.
Robert Pattinson continues his swerve away from big budget spectacle in the Safdie brothers’ electrifying morality tale. Pattinson is impressively scuzzy as the man hurtling around New York in pursuit of his brother’s bail money, a journey of escalating absurdity and dark consequences that takes time to make plenty of timely jabs. Exposing the seamier side of the Big Apple and interrogating the economic position of those miscreant characters who have fallen through the social cracks, it’s got both energy and brains to spare.
Wind River is out on digital download January 8, 2018 and Blu-ray™ & DVD January 22, 2018.