Zack Snyder unleashes a zombie heist film, horror receives new entries in the Saw and A Quiet Place franchises, and plenty of action make May a great month for the movies
With hits like Godzilla vs. Kong and Mortal Kombat breathing life back into the box office – even with simultaneous streaming releases! – it’s starting to look like theaters may be back in full swing. The lineup of upcoming films for May only further proves that studios have more confidence in theatrical releases again, with major horror franchises and a new Guy Ritchie action flick coming exclusively to the big screen.
But streaming’s domination isn’t going away anytime soon. This month features some major releases from Netflix as well, with a pair of strong literary adaptations and the latest Zack Snyder movie coming to the service. It’s a solid lineup of films for May, opening the doors for an even stronger summer.
‘Spiral: From the Book of Saw’ May 14th (Theaters)
It’s the horror franchise that will never die. Saw is indeed back in all of its torturous glory, but this ninth installment, Spiral, is looking to refresh the series and make it feel new again. Chris Rock, who also stars in the film, pitched the idea of taking Saw in a new direction, one that maintains its violence and lore but adds in some wit and dark comedy. Producers have stated that Rock’s treatment of Saw was comparable to what Eddie Murphy had done for buddy cop films in 48 Hrs., giving the Saw series a “completely fresh perspective”.
Spiral follows a hard headed detective named Zeke Banks (Rock) who ends up taking charge of a grisly investigation into a series of murders that are eerily reminiscent of the city’s gruesome past. Along with his partner William Schenk (Max Minghella) and his veteran cop father Marcus (Samuel L. Jackson), Zeke becomes part of the mysterious killer’s twisted game.
‘A Quiet Place Part II’ May 28th (Theaters)
John Krasinki’s A Quiet Place took hold of audiences back in 2018 with a simple premise: The world has been overrun by monsters that come after you if you make even the slightest bit of noise, and you’re likely not going to survive the encounter. That makes for a unique film that has very little sound or dialogue, something that’ll likely be repeated in this year’s sequel.
Following the deadly events at home, the Abbott family (Emily Blunt, Millicent Simmonds, and Noah Jupe reprising their roles) must now face the terrors of the outside world as they continue their fight for survival in silence. Forced to venture into the unknown, they quickly realize that the creatures that hunt by sound are not the only threats that lurk beyond the sand path. The film also adds Cillian Murphy and Djimon Hounsou to the cast.
‘Army of the Dead’ May 21st (Netflix)
Zack Snyder’s second film of the year is a welcome return to the world of zombies apocalypses for the filmmaker, who first made a splash on the movie scene with his 2004 remake of Dawn of the Dead. Snyder acts his own cinematographer for this film, so prepare yourself for what’s likely to be a large amount of his signature slow-motion, Renaissance painting-like shots of badass action.
Army of the Dead is the story of a group of mercenaries who plot a heist in a zombie-ravaged Las Vegas, and it stars Dave Bautista, Ella Purnell, Omari Hardwick, Ana de la Reguera, Theo Rossi, Matthias Schweighöfer, and more. The film has already kicked off a prequel film that focuses on Schweighöfer’s character, as well as an anime-style series.
‘The Woman in the Window’ May 14th (Netflix)
The Woman in the Window novel took the world by storm in 2018, so it’s no surprise that it very quickly received a Hollywood adaptation. Director Joe Wright – coming fresh off of a pair of Oscar wins for The Darkest Hour – has a pretty good track record for adaptations; you’re probably familiar with his versions of Pride & Prejudice and Atonement. The film was originally scheduled to be released in 2019 before being pushed back to 2020, only for the COVID-19 pandemic to push it back once again and eventually be picked up by Netflix.
The story stars Amy Adams as an extreme agoraphobe who spends nearly all of her time alone in her condo, until her life is turned upside down one day when she witnesses a horrific crime from her window. The cast also includes Gary Oldman, Julianne Moore, Anthony Mackie, Wyatt Russell, Fred Hechinger, Brian Tyree Henry, and Jennifer Jason Leigh.
‘Cruella’ (Theaters and Disney+ Premier Access)
While Disney has certainly begun to wear out their live-action remake money-making scheme, Cruella is one of their more interesting ideas. For one, the titular Cruella de Vil from the animated classic 101 Dalmations has already received the live-action makeover from Glenn Close in the late 90s remake and its sequel. Close serves as executive producer for this latest film alongside the new Cruella, Emma Stone. One of the writers for the film has worked with Stone before, in the 2018 Yorgos Lanthimos film The Favourite, which, if you haven’t seen, you really need to.
Cruella will follow the future puppy-stealing criminal during her early days when she dreamed of being a fashion designer, filled with ambition and determination. The film has earned itself a PG-13 rating, which is rare for a Disney film. In fact, it’s only the second live-action remake to receive one following last year’s Mulan. Could this be Disney’s Joker?
‘Those Who Wish Me Dead’ May 14th (Theaters and HBO Max)
Those Who Wish Me Dead is the next major release for Warner Bros’ 2021 plan to release their theatrical films simultaneously on HBO MAX. Filmmaker Taylor Sheridan is best known for his screenplays for Sicario, Hell or Highwater, and Wind River, which he also directed. His latest directing gig has him adapting the 2014 Michale Koryta novel that combines elements of survival thrillers, Westerns, and action.
The film follows a young boy named Connor (Finn Little) who witnesses the murder of his father and is relentlessly pursued by the killers, played by Nicholas Hoult and Aidan Gillen. He runs into a veteran fire warden named Hannah (Angelina Jolie) who attempts to shelter home, but the killers soon begin to set the entire forest ablaze, putting everyone in extreme danger. The cast also includes John Bernthal, Tyler Perry, and Jake Weber.
‘’Monster’ May 7th (Netflix)
Monster tells the story of Steve Harmon (Kelvin Harrison Jr.) a seventeen-year-old honor student whose world comes crashing down around him when he is charged with felony murder. The film follows his dramatic journey from a smart, likeable film student from Harlem attending an elite high school through a complex legal battle that could leave him spending the rest of his life in prison.
Based on the 1999 Walter Dean Myers’ novel of the same name, the legal drama has an immensely talented cast that includes Jennifer Hudson, Jeffrey Wright, Jennifer Ehle, Tim Blake Nelson, Nas, A$AP Rocky, and John David Washington. It’s the feature directorial debut of Anthony Mandler, who is best known for his music videos and photography with a wide array of stars.
‘Wrath of Man’ May 7th (Theaters)
English filmmaker Guy Ritchie is a staple of the action genre, directing hits like the Robert Downey Jr. / Jude Law pair of Sherlock Holmes films, The Man from U.N.C.L.E., and The Gentlemen. Wrath of Man marks with fourth collaboration no-nonsense action star Jason Statham, who stars as a mysterious man known only as “H”.
H is hired by a cash truck company and surprises his co-workers when he unleashes his deadly skills in front of them. The crew is left wondering who he is and where he came from, when the reality is that he’s on the hunt for his son’s murderers.
‘Riders of Justice’ May 21st (Theaters and VOD)
Riders of Justice follows recently-deployed soldier Markus (Mads Mikkelsen), who is forced to return home to care for his teenage daughter, Mathilde (Andrea Heick Gadeberg), after his wife is killed in a tragic train accident. But when a survivor of the wrecked train surfaces claiming foul play, Markus begins to suspect his wife was murdered and embarks on a mission to find those responsible.
The film is a Danish black comedy, and star Mads Mikkelsen is recently coming off an Oscar win for Another Round, which took home the prize for Best International Film. Funny enough, Riders of Justice actually beat out Another Round’s box office record for opening weekend of the year when it was released in Denmark.
‘Mainstream’ May 7th (Theaters)
Filmmaker Gia Coppola has historical cinematic genes – as the granddaughter of Francis Ford Coppola, who changed the entertainment landscape with films like The Godfather trilogy or Apocalypse Now, Gia seemingly has the same drive to tell stories through the magic of motion pictures. Mainstream is her first feature length film since 2013’s Palo Alto, and it boasts an impressive cast that includes Andrew Garfield, Maya Hawke, Nat Wolff, Johnny Knoxville, and Jason Schwartzman.
The film is a satire on the digital age and social media stardom, following a young woman named Frankie (Hawke) who begins making videos with a charismatic man named Link (Garfield) in hopes of gaining a following. But the dark side of viral celebrity soon rears its ugly head and threatens the two of them.