As is typically the case at the end of the year, recent weeks have seen a deluge in new releases in time for awards season (this past Thanksgiving weekend was especially crowded). This week is a little bit quieter, with only two new wide releases leading the way: "Killing Them Softly" and "The Collection."
"Killing Them Softly" is the highly anticipated third film from writer/director Andrew Dominik. The long-gestating follow-up to "The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford," the film re-teams the director with star Brad Pitt, who plays an enforcer forced to investigate a heist during a mob-protected card game that makes the local crime racket tank.
Based on George V. Higgin's 1974 crime novel "Coogan's Trade," "Killing Them Softly" has been in development since 2010. Production wrapped last year, and the film premiered at Cannes in May; since then, it's opened in several markets since and also toured the festival circuit, where it's already garnered a fair amount of healthy praise, as the film currently registers a 92% approval rating at Rotten Tomatoes.
Ray Liotta, Richard Jenkins, and James Gandolfini also feature in the film, which has been highly anticipated since "The Assassination of Jesse James" revealed Dominik to be one of Hollywood's most exciting emergent talents.
On the other hand "The Collection" is a sequel to "The Collector," a horror film that barely registered when it was released a few years ago. As such, a sequel (much less one getting a wide theatrical release) is a bit surprising, but it's perhaps more surprising to see that it's met with a small amount of approval with the critics who have seen it so far (it currently rests at 100% on Rotten Tomatoes with only five reviews).
Josh Stewart is reprising his role from the original film, which began life as a "Saw" prequel written by Marcus Dunstan and Patrick Melton (who did pen four "Saw" sequels). It centers on a mysterious figure with a penchant for staging elaborate home invasions and "collecting" his victims.
The film's release at the end of the year is a rare treat for horror fans who have been starving for prominent wide releases all year long; while October was expectedly crowded with releases, it's been an otherwise dry year for the genre as far as mainstream releases go.