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1408 (PG-13) Paranormal investigator and confirmed skeptic Mike Enslin (John Cusack) meets his match when he checks in the titular room at a Manhattan hotel and finds all hell literally breaking loose. Based on a short story by Stephen King, 1408 is a welcome change from the Saw/Hostel splatterfests currently in vogue, but the film's approach isn't exactly old-school psychological-horror either. Director Mikael Hafstrom throws a steady stream of somewhat incongruous elements at the wall hoping something will stick, and while there's plenty of eerie atmosphere and surreal visions here, there are also lots of cheap tricks, with the equivalent of somebody jumping out of a closet and yelling "Boo!" every few minutes. Cusack is on screen nearly every moment here, and he's quite good, but the film is a mixed bag — for better or worse, a spot-on translation of King's compulsively watchable and eminently disposable style. Also stars Samuel L. Jackson and Mary McCormack. Opens June 22 at local theaters. 3 stars

EVAN ALMIGHTY (PG-13) A sequel to Bruce Almighty minus Jim Carrey, in which Steve Carell goes all Noah-esque when God (Morgan Freeman) tells him to build an ark. Also stars Lauren Graham, Wanda Sykes, John Goodman and Steve Oedekerk. Opens June 22 at local theaters. (Not Reviewed)


28 WEEKS LATER (R) 28 Weeks Later is largely headache-inducing stuff. The movie picks up some months after its predecessor (28 Days Later), with the zombie-inducing epidemic of the original film apparently contained and American-led NATO forces moving in to help rebuild a devastated Britain. Everything soon enough goes to hell, of course, and the bulk of the film is pure chaos, as masses of frightened human survivors and infected, flesh-craving zombies run amok through the streets of London, and confused U.S. soldiers stand at a distance firing blindly into the crowds, unable to tell friends from foes. The movie's scenario practically demands a parallel or three with Iraq, but there's very little shape or nuance to what happens here, and what 28 Weeks Later mainly has going for it is some pretty extreme and ugly nihilism. There are some clever turns here, but the movie mainly just tosses out faceless characters for its zombies to chow down on, all set to a combination of aggressive metal and dreamy, discordant rock of the sort that used to be called alternative. Stars Robert Carlyle, Rose Byrne, Jeremy Renner, Catherine McCormack, Imogen Poots, Makintosh Muggleton and Idris Elba. 2.5 stars

AFTER THE WEDDING (R) Former Dogme hard-liner Susanne Bier's most melodramatic leanings have surged to the surface, where they're aired out in feverishly opulent style. Mads Mikkelsen (the blood-weeping baddie from Casino Royale) stars as the Danish manager of a Bombay orphanage, whose meeting with a wealthy benefactor (Rolf Lassgard) lifts a veil on the past, uncorking a magnum of tears, traumas, secrets and lies. The camera still whips around nervously, almost Dogme-like at times, but the shots are just as likely to be smoothly executed and slickly composed, while a seemingly endless succession of iconic close-ups of eyes fill the screen. It's all absurdly over-heated and maybe even a bit silly, but I wouldn't at all call it unpleasant. Also stars Sidse Babett Knudsen and Stine Fischer Christensen. Opens June 22 at Tampa Theatre. Call theater to confirm. 3 stars

AWAY FROM HER (PG-13) Julie Christie stars as Fiona Anderson, a woman suffering from Alzheimer's, and as her memory vanishes, Away From Her sets itself the task of examining what remains. As much as the film focuses on Fiona's slow, slipping-away process, Away From Her is on equally intimate terms with her husband/caregiver Grant (Gordon Pinsent), and the bittersweet portrait painted here is ultimately a two-shot, a carefully layered mosaic of the couple's 44-year union. In a larger sense, the movie is a quietly telling examination of the nature of love itself, a reminder of what holds couples together even after the realization that our loved ones are not as we imagined them to be. In lesser hands this could easily have become treacly, even tedious going, but Away From Her turns out to be that rare, small film that packs an uncommonly large punch. Also stars Olympia Dukakis, Michael Murphy and Kristen Thomson. 3.5 stars

BUG (R) Is it a horror movie or an existential art flick masquerading as a horror movie? Or vice versa? Since the studio declined to screen this one for review, we'll just have to wait to see how it all comes out in the wash. Based on a stage play, and directed by William Friedkin (The Exorcist), Bug stars Ashley Judd as a woman holed up in a hotel room while some sort of (metaphorical?) contamination rages outside. Also stars Michael Shannon and Harry Connick Jr. (Not Reviewed)

DAY WATCH (R) Day Watch, the sequel to the 2006 Russian action-fantasy-horror hybrid Night Watch, begins with a brief introduction that brings us up to speed — or at least as close to "speed" as we can reasonably expect with material this convoluted. We're then left to wander the wilderness for the next 140 minutes, surrounded by signposts well worth gawking at, but that don't provide a clue as to our whereabouts. Former music video director Timur Bekmambetov returns us to a more or less modern-day Russia where magic rules and where an uneasy, age-old détente holds between the forces of darkness and light. Like its predecessor, Day Watch is as tasty as any Hollywood eye candy, but its storytelling chops are often tough going, with sequences filled with expositional gobbledy-gook that's sometimes silly and occasionally flat-out incomprehensible. Still, there's style to burn here, and those willing to suspend disbelief may find much to appreciate in a world where witches, wizards and shape-shifters take part in a crumbling post-Communist bureaucracy. Also stars Vladimir Menshov, Maria Poroshina and Galina Tyunina. 3 stars

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