As the doldrums of the winter movie season subside, here are the top seven forthcoming film releases we’re excited about.
Calling all randy, small-town teens: Better think twice about that late-night hook-up. Your friend with benefits might turn into a mistake with deadly consequences, especially if there’s a curse that makes you the relentlessly stalked prey of murderous phantoms invisible to all but the promiscuous. A post-AIDS horror story about sexually transmitted demons, and lovingly crafted with all the synth-heavy tropes of classic ’80s slasher flicks, director David Robert Mitchell’s It Follows ingeniously channels the fevered paranoia of how casual intimacy can literally haunt you.
WHILE WE’RE YOUNG
Married Manhattanites Ben Stiller and Naomi Watts, willfully childless while their friends are busy breeding, weather a marital midlife crisis by dipping their toes into millennial Brooklyn hipsterdom and treating it like the fountain of youth—porkpie hats and all. Adam Driver and Amanda Seyfried are their unlikely Williamsburger confidantes in this caustic dramedy from neurotic New Yorker Noah Baumbach that takes equal delight in skewering the Selfie Generation and its cultural dumpster-diving as well as the urbane anxieties of disaffected, overeducated, under-motivated Gen Xers.
Computer programmer Caleb (Domhnall Gleeson) wins a competition to meet his reclusive billionaire boss (Oscar Isaac), which means an extended stay at his remote high-security compound and a chance to peek at his latest invention: Ava, an uncannily human robot with cutting-edge artificial intelligence. But is the house actually a research lab? And is Caleb’s visit just part of a greater experiment? Existential dilemmas mount in novelist-turned-screenwriter Alex Garland’s directing debut, a prescient thriller that reflects modern humanity’s unease at being enslaved by superhuman androids.
ROCK THE KASBAH
Bill Murray headlines this whimsical comedy about a burnt-out music impresario who follows one of his last remaining clients on a USO tour of the Middle East and instead discovers a young girl with a golden voice. Determined to create a singing sensation, he takes her to Kabul for the TV competition show Afghan Star. The only hiccup he didn’t expect was that her jealous ex-boyfriend would try to sabotage her ascent. Oscar-winning director Barry Levinson helms a stellar cast, including Bruce Willis, Kate Hudson, Scott Caan, Zooey Deschanel and Danny McBride. Who knew the Muslim world could be so funny?
MAD MAX: FURY ROAD
Thirty years after Mel Gibson faced off with Tina Turner in the Thunderdome of pop culture, George Miller enlists Tom Hardy to help resurrect Aussie hero Max Rockatansky and throws in a one-armed Charlize Theron for good measure (playing a woman named—of course—Imperator Furiosa) in cinema’s most enduring, inventive and radically perverse post-apocalyptic franchise. With a reported budget of $150 million, and the director’s professed plans to make a movie that’s very nearly one continuous dialogue-free chase scene, expect dazzling automotive demolitions and transgressive survivalist ass-whooping.
Talk about an archeological dig! Universal unearths Steven Spielberg’s 1993 thrill-ride for a fourth film in the beloved franchise that doubles as a possible reboot—that is, if audiences show enough of an appetite for rampant reptilian destruction. The catch this time is that scientists aren’t just recreating a prehistoric menagerie for theme park antics; they’re also genetically modifying their lab creations. Mother Nature-miffed consequences ensue. Newly minted movie star Chris Pratt plays the adventurous skeptic this time, although Jeff Goldblum’s kooky charm is really the only DNA that this franchise needs to bring it back to life.
Pixar, where have you been? Disney’s beloved hit-maker finally delivers its first non-sequel since 2012’s Brave, returning in style with a literally brainy conceit: A look at the world through the anthropomorphized feelings that control a little girl’s actions. Among the emotions: Joy (Amy Poehler), Disgust (Mindy Kaling), Anger (Lewis Black), Fear (Bill Hader) and Sadness (Phyllis Smith). This could be a banner year for the Oscar-adorned animation studio, since another original feature, The Good Dinosaur, arrives in the fall. Savor the freshness, though, since follow-ups to Cars, Finding Nemo, The Incredibles and Toy Story are all on the way.