The New Movies You Can Watch at Australian Cinemas From September 29

Head to the flicks to see a 50s-set whoddunnit, Jerrod Carmichael's feature directorial debut and a nightmarish drama about a family horror dinner.
Sarah Ward
Published on September 29, 2022

Something delightful has been happening in cinemas in some parts of the country. After numerous periods spent empty during the pandemic, with projectors silent, theatres bare and the smell of popcorn fading, picture palaces in many Australian regions are back in business — including both big chains and smaller independent sites in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane.

During COVID-19 lockdowns, no one was short on things to watch, of course. In fact, you probably feel like you've streamed every movie ever made, including new releasesStudio Ghibli's animated fare and Nicolas Cage-starring flicks. But, even if you've spent all your time of late glued to your small screen, we're betting you just can't wait to sit in a darkened room and soak up the splendour of the bigger version. Thankfully, plenty of new films are hitting cinemas so that you can do just that — and we've rounded up, watched and reviewed everything on offer this week.



As every murder-mystery does, See How They Run asks a specific question: whodunnit? This 1950s-set flick also solves another query, one that's lingered over Hollywood for seven decades now thanks to Agatha Christie. If this movie's moniker has you thinking about mouse-focused nursery rhymes, that's by design — and characters do scurry around chaotically — however, it could also have you pondering the famed author's play The Mousetrap. The latter first hit theatres in London's West End in 1952 and has stayed there ever since, other than an enforced pandemic-era shutdown in COVID-19's early days. The show operates under a set stipulation regarding the big-screen rights, too, meaning that it can't be turned into a film until the original production has stopped treading the boards for at least six months. As that's never happened, how do you get it into cinemas anyway? Make a movie about trying to make The Mousetrap into a movie, aka See How They Run.

There's a clever-clever air to See How They Run's reason for existing. The same proves true of its narrative, the on-screen explanation about how The Mousetrap sits at the centre of this film's story, and the way it details those rules around adapting the play for cinema. Voiced by in-movie director Leo Köpernick (Adrien Brody, Blonde), that winking attitude resembles the Scream franchise's take on the horror genre, but with murder-mysteries — and it also smarts in its knowing rundown about how whodunnits work, who's who among the main players-slash-suspects and what leads to the central homicide. First-time feature filmmaker Tom George (This Country) and screenwriter Mark Chappell (Flaked) still craft a film that's enjoyable-enough, though, albeit somehow both satirical and by the numbers. Keeping audiences guessing isn't the picture's strong suit. Matching its own comparison to Christie isn't either. But the leads and snappy sense of fun make this a mostly entertaining game of on-screen Cluedo.

Was it actor Richard Attenborough (Harris Dickinson, Where the Crawdads Sing), his fellow-thespian wife Sheila Sim (Pearl Chanda, War of the Worlds), big-time movie producer John Woolf (Reece Shearsmith, Venom: Let There Be Carnage) or his spouse Edana Romney (Sian Clifford, The Duke) getting murderous in the costume shop at the backstage party celebrating The Mousetrap's 100th show? (And yes, they're all real-life figures.) Or, was it the play's producer Petula Spencer (Ruth Wilson, His Dark Materials), the proposed feature adaptation's screenwriter Mervyn Cocker-Norris (David Oyelowo, Chaos Walking) or his Italian lover Gio (Jacob Fortune-Lloyd, The Queen's Gambit)? They're among See How They Run's other enquiries, which Scotland Yard's Inspector Stoppard (Sam Rockwell, Richard Jewell) and Constable Stalker (Saoirse Ronan, The French Dispatch) try to answer. After the death that kicks off the film, the two cops are on the case, working through their odd-couple vibe as they sleuth.

Naturally, everyone that was in the theatre on the night in question is a suspect. Just as expectedly, convolutions and complications abound. Plus, possible motives keep stacking up — and there's plenty of in-fighting among the stage and screen in-crowd who might've done the deed. In other words, even with equally parodying and paying homage to all things murder-mystery chief among See How They Run's aims (alongside showing off that it thinks it knows the basics as well as Christie), it isn't blind to following the standard formula. The guiding narration, which notes that it's always the most unlikeable character that gets bumped off, takes a ribbing approach; "seen one, you've seen 'em all" it advises, because Köpernick was charged with helming The Mousetrap's leap into movies, wasn't so impressed with the source material, then advocated for violence and explosions to spice up the whole thing. Yes, viewers are meant to see parallels between what he's saying and what they're watching. Yes, being that self-aware and meta truly is a feature-long commitment.

Read our full review.



If high-concept horror nasties get you grinning even when you're squirming, recoiling or peeking through your fingers, then expect Smile to live up to its name — in its first half, at least. A The Ring-meets-It Follows type of scarefest with nods to the Joker thrown in, it takes its titular term seriously, sporting one helluva creepy smirk again and again. The actual face doing the ghoulish beaming can change, and does, but the evil Cheshire Cat-esque look on each dial doesn't. Where 2011's not-at-all spooky The Muppets had a maniacal laugh, Smile does indeed possess a maniacal, skin-crawling, nightmare-inducing leer. In the film, the first character to chat about it, PhD student Laura Weaver (Caitlin Stasey, Bridge and Tunnel), explains it as "the worst smile I have ever seen in my life". She's in a hospital, telling psychiatrist Rose Cotter (Mare of Easttown's Sosie Bacon, daughter of Kevin Bacon and Kyra Sedgwick), who clearly thinks she's hallucinating. But when the doctor sees that grin herself, she immediately knows that Laura's description couldn't be more accurate.

Toothy, deranged, preternaturally stretched and also frozen in place, the smile at the heart of Smile isn't easily forgotten — not that Rose need worry about that. Soon, it's haunting her days and nights by interrupting her work, and seeing her act erratically with patients to the concern of her boss (Kal Penn, Clarice). Rose upsets a whole party at her nephew's birthday, too, and makes her fiancé Trevor (Jessie T Usher, The Boys) have doubts about their future. There's a backstory: Rose's mother experienced mental illness, which is why she's so passionate about her work and her sister Holly (Gillian Zinser, The Guilty) is so dismissive. There's a backstory to the diabolical frown turned upside down also, which she's quickly trying to unravel with the help of her cop ex Joel (Kyle Gallner, Scream). She has to; Laura came to the hospital for assistance after her professor saw the smile first, then started beaming it, then took his own life in front of her — and now Rose is in the same situation.

It springs from debut feature writer/director Parker Finn's own 2020 short film Laura Hasn't Slept, but given how quickly Smile's nods to other horror flicks come — and how blatant they are — it's hardly astonishing how little in its narrative comes as a surprise. A malignant terror spreading virally on sight? A single-minded pursuer that can hop bodies, but always chases its new target with unyielding focus? Yes, as already mentioned, a J-horror franchise and its American remake are owed a huge debt, as is David Robert Mitchell's breakout 2014 hit. And yes, there's no way not to think of a certain Batman adversary each time that eerily exaggerated smirk flashes (given how many times the Joker has featured on-screen, it's downright inescapable). But when Smile is smiling — not just plastering that unnerving grin far and wide, but frequently directing it straight at the camera (and audience) — the fear is real.

It's an odd experience, the feeling of knowing how obvious every aspect of a movie's narrative is, yet still having it spark a physical reaction. Finn deploys jump-scares that do genuinely invite jumps. His film goes dark and grim in its look and atmosphere, tensely so, and with cinematographer Charlie Sarroff (Relic) adoring soft, restrained lighting that one imagines the realm between life and death could have. He knows when to let a moment and a shot hang, teasing out the inevitable but still making sure the payoff is felt. And, among all of that, the mood is Ari Aster (Hereditary, Midsommar)-level bleak. The biggest kudos goes to (and the biggest responses come from) that hellish expression that could pop up anywhere on anyone, though. When Smile stops smiling, it's a blander movie — and although the fact that much of it is spliced together from elsewhere, and what isn't is largely generic, doesn't ever slip from view, that's also when the feature gets heftier.

Read our full review.



What happens outside an upstate New York strip club at 10am on an ordinary weekday? Nothing — nothing good, or that anyone pays attention to, at least — deduces the unhappy Val (Jerrod Carmichael, Rothaniel) in On the Count of Three. So, he's hatched a plan: with his lifelong best friend Kevin (Christopher Abbott, The Forgiven), they'll carry out a suicide pact, with that empty car park as their final earthly destination. Under the harsh morning light and against a drably grey sky, Carmichael's feature directorial debut initially meets its central duo standing in that exact spot, guns pointed at each other's heads and pulling the trigger mere moments away. Yes, they start counting. Yes, exhaustion and desperation beam from their eyes. No, this thorny yet soulful film isn't over and done with then and there.

There are many ways to experience weariness, frustration, malaise and despair, and to convey them — and On the Count of Three surveys plenty, as an unflinchingly black comedy about two lifelong best friends deciding to end it all should. Those dispiriting feelings can weigh you down, making every second of every day an effort. They can fester, agitate, linger and percolate, simmering behind every word and deed before spewing out as fury. They can spark drastic actions, including the type that Val and Kevin have picked as their only option after the latter breaks the former out of a mental health hospital mere days after his last self-harming incident. Or, they can inspire a wholesale rejection of the milestones, such as the promotion that Val is offered hours earlier, that everyone is told they're supposed to covet, embrace and celebrate.

On the Count of Three covers all of the above, not just with purpose but with confidence, as well as a much-needed willingness to get messy. It knows it's traversing tricky terrain, and is also well-aware of the obvious: that nothing about considering taking one's own life is simple or easy, let alone a laughing matter. Working with a script by Ramy co-creators Ari Katcher (also a co-creator of The Carmichael Show) and Ryan Welch, Carmichael doesn't make a movie that salutes, excuses or justifies Val and Kevin's exit plan. His film doesn't abhor the emotions and pain behind their choices either, though. Instead, this is a complicated portrait of coping, and not, with the necessities, vagaries and inevitabilities of life — and a raw and thoughtful piece of recognition that the biggest standoff we all have is with ourselves.

Rocking a shock of dishevelled bleached-blonde hair, and looking like he hasn't even dreamed of changing his wardrobe since the early 00s, Abbott could've wandered out of Good Time as Kevin — he and Robert Pattinson could/should play brothers some day — including when he's staring down Val with a gun. First, On the Count of Three jumps from there to the events leading up to it, including an earlier attempt by landscaping supply store worker Val in the work bathrooms, his response to hearing about that aforementioned climb up the corporate ladder. In hospital, Kevin is angry; "if any of you knew how to help me by now, you would have fucking done it!" he shouts. But when the time to shoot comes, it's him who suggests a reprieve to take care of a few last items — revenge being his.

Read our full review.



Movie buffs who like to theme their viewing around the relevant time of year — holiday-related, primarily — are always spoiled for choice. Christmas films, spooky flicks at Halloween, Easter-relevant fare: you can build a binge session or several out of all of them. The same applies to Thanksgiving, all courtesy of the US, and The Humans is the latest addition to the November-appropriate list. This A24 release ticks a few clearcut boxes, in fact, including bringing a dysfunctional multi-generation family together to celebrate the date, steeping their get-together in the kind of awkwardness that always stalks relatives, and having big revelations spill over the course of the gathering (the calendar-mandated time for such disclosures, pouring out before the tryptophan kicks in). That said, even with such evident servings of underlying formula, The Humans is far creepier and more haunting than your usual movie about America's turkey-eating time of year. A hefty helping of existential horror will do that.

Based on Stephen Karam's Tony-winning 2016 Broadway play — a Pulitzer Prize finalist as well — and adapted and directed for the screen by Karam himself, The Humans is downright unsettling, and for a few reasons. There's the tension zipping back and forth between everyone in attendance, of course — as crucial an ingredient at every Thanksgiving party as food, booze and warm bodies to consume them, at least if films are to be believed. There's also the bleak, claustrophobic, run-down setting, with the movie confined to a New York apartment close to Ground Zero, which aspiring composer Brigid (Beanie Feldstein, Booksmart) and her student boyfriend Richard (Steven Yeun, Nope) have just moved into at significant expense. And, there's the strange sounds emanating from other units, and perhaps this creaking, groaning, two-storey abode itself, which couldn't feel less welcoming.

As a result, seasonal cheer is few and far between in this corner of Manhattan, where the Blake family congregates dutifully rather than agreeably or even welcomely. Also making an appearance: parents Deirdre (Only Murders in the Building's Jayne Houdyshell, reprising her Tony-winning part) and Erik (Richard Jenkins, DAHMER — Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story), Brigid's lawyer older sister Aimee (Amy Schumer, Life & Beth), and their grandmother Momo (June Squibb, Palmer), who has dementia and uses a wheelchair. No one is happy, and everyone seems to have something that needs airing — slowly and reluctantly when it's a matter of importance, but freely and cuttingly when it's a snap judgement directed at others. Watching The Humans, the audience hopes that no one has truly had a Thanksgiving like this, while knowing how well its fraught dynamic hits the mark.

Thanks to Richard, film first-timer Karam has a straightforward way to start doling out backstory — a time-honoured function of fresh attendees to on-screen family dos, and not just in movies about Thanksgiving. Erik chats, filling the newcomer in, although the talk between everyone dishes out plenty of handy details. Religious and political affiliations cause strains, as do booze and money. The clash between the big city, where the Blake family daughters now live, and their hometown of Scranton, Pennsylvania also informs the discussions. Health woes, relationship struggles, generation clashes, expecting more both from and of each other but getting less: that's the baseline. Brigid stews about not being given enough cash by her parents, and therefore jeopardising her career dreams; Aimee frets about treading water at work, being alone and a medical condition; Deirdre's conservative leanings bristle against her daughters' decisions; and Erik clearly has a secret.

Read our full review.


If you're wondering what else is currently screening in Australian cinemas — or has been lately — check out our rundown of new films released in Australia on June 2, June 9June 16, June 23 and June 30; and July 7, July 14, July 21 and July 28; August 4, August 11, August 18 and August 25; and September 1, September 8, September 15 and September 22.

You can also read our full reviews of a heap of recent movies, such as Mothering Sunday, Jurassic World Dominion, A Hero, Benediction, Lightyear, Men, Elvis, Lost Illusions, Nude Tuesday, Ali & Ava, Thor: Love and Thunder, Compartment No. 6, Sundown, The Gray Man, The Phantom of the Open, The Black Phone, Where the Crawdads Sing, Official Competition, The Forgiven, Full Time, Murder Party, Bullet Train, Nope, The Princess, 6 Festivals, Good Luck to You, Leo Grande, Crimes of the Future, Bosch & Rockit, Fire of Love, Beast, Blaze, Hit the Road, Three Thousand Years of Longing, Orphan: First Kill, The Quiet Girl, Flux Gourmet, Bodies Bodies Bodies, Moonage Daydream, Ticket to Paradise, Clean and You Won't Be Alone.

Published on September 29, 2022 by Sarah Ward
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