From director David Fincher comes the intense dramatic thriller Panic Room. The story follows a mother and daughter who lock themselves into a panic room when three burglars break into their new home. The cast is quite impressive and features strong performance from Jodie Foster, Kristen Stewart, Forest Whitaker, and Jared Leto. Additionally, the script does a good job at thinking through the standoff with the burglars and at making it suspenseful. Fincher's directing however, is overdone and tries too hard to be mysterious and dramatic. Panic Room isn't as big and compelling as it wants to be, but it's well-crafted and entertaining.
Odd but strangely alluring, Novocaine is a suspenseful back comedy. After being seduced by a femme fatale, Dr. Frank Sangster finds himself caught up in a web of lies, sex, and murder. Starring Steve Martin, Helena Bonham Carter, Laura Dern, and Scott Caan, the cast is quite good, as are the performances (especially Carter's). Additionally, the writing balances the dark themes with light humor rather well. Still, the film does have some problems, as the tone's a bit uneven at times and most of the characters aren't fleshed out. Novocaine has some rough spots, but overall it's an entertaining film that's full of intrigue.
The Mistress of the Dark is back for another terrifying adventure in Elvira's Haunted Hills. Set in 1851 Carpathia, cabaret performer Elvira is offered food and shelter at a local castle, but she starts to suspect that something mysterious is going on when she discovers that the lord's dead wife looks exactly like her. The film is basically an homage to the Hammer Horror and Vincent Prince films of the '60s, and on that level it sort of works. However, the performances are rather weak, and Elvira's sass and attitude seem out of place in this setting. The directing is also lackluster and doesn't add much to the material. Elvira's Haunted Hills isn't quite as clever or as fun as the first film, but it tries some interesting things and delivers a few laughs.
A rather poor adaptation of Stephen King's best-selling novel, Cujo doesn't deliver any real scares. The story follows a suburban family that's going through some domestic issues, while across town a junkyard dog named Cujo slowly turns rabid and starts attacking people. Either because of poor acting or bad writing, the characters aren't very interesting. And, the dog isn't that frightening. The directing is also rather weak, and doesn't bring any sense of danger or intensity to the scenes. Additionally, the score is cliched and trite. Cujo is a little more than stereotypical B-horror film that relies mostly on cheap scares.
Few movies are brave enough to put "stupid" in their title, but Ernest Scared Stupid has no illusions about what it is. Clearly meant for children (and only children) the comedy is incredibly juvenile and slapstick-ish. And the acting, if it can be called that, is horrendous. The sets, costumes, and special effects are also terrible, looking especially fake and cheap. Lacking the charm and fun of the earlier films, Ernest Scared Stupid is complete garbage.