Just in time for Halloween at bargain theaters, a couple of less-than-successful creepy late-summer leftovers, plus an epic romance and a thriller that gets lost in translation. ---
The best of the new offerings at local discount houses is One Day, a drama following two Brits (Anne Hathaway and Jim Sturgess) as we revisit them on the same single day -- July 15 -- over the course of more than 20 years. The gimmick has its limitations, and generally seems unnecessary as a way of exploring the evolution of this relationship. But the characters and their connection prove strong enough that it's enough to make you care about what happens during all the other days we don't see.
John Madden's The Debt also spans decades, adapting an Israeli suspense drama about ex-Mossad agents -- including Helen Mirren and Tom Wilkinson -- dealing with the repercussions of a mission years earlier to track down a Nazi war criminal in East Germany. There are some effectively tense set pieces, but Madden makes the mistake of too many English-language translations: grabbing the plot while losing much of the cultural specificity that made the story interesting in the first place.
For those looking for low-rent scares on a pre-Halloween weekend, there's Apollo 18 and Don't Be Afraid of the Dark. Of the former -- a "found footage" thriller about a creepy moon mission -- our Eric D. Snider called it "all slow-burn with no payoff." And of the latter -- with weird things haunting Katie Holmes and Guy Pearce -- Andrew Wright for CW liked a few of its jolts, but believed "there's not much here that'll linger into the wee hours."