September brought a number of interesting new releases to theaters, including Johnny Depp as notorious Boston gangster James "Whitey" Bulger in Black Mass and director Denis Villeneuve's crime drama Sicario. Meanwhile, sequels Hotel Transylvania 2 and Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials proved to be the biggest hits, while The Visit marked an improvement in recent films by writer/director M. Night Shyamalan.
This month's big-screen offerings up the ante, as several horror films will be vying for the Halloween crowd while Oscar-winning directors Robert Zemeckis, Steven Spielberg and Danny Boyle enter the awards race with their latest projects. Here are 9 films to check out in October 2015:
9 The Martian (Release Date: October 2)
An adaptation of the acclaimed novel by Andy Weir, The Martian stars Matt Damon as an astronaut presumed dead and left behind on a mission to the Red Planet. The film also serves as Ridley Scott's first sci-fi project since the polarizing pseudo-Alien prequel Prometheus in 2012. Thus far, The Martian is earning critical raves both for Scott's direction as well as Damon's lead performance.
If the film manages to become a box office smash, it will be one of the few big-budget original (i.e. non-franchise) sci-fi hits this year. Films like Chappie, Jupiter Ascending, and Tomorrowland all failed to attract audiences, but if any major studio project can break that trend, Scott's sci-fi drama -- which features an ensemble supporting cast that includes Jessica Chastain, Jeff Daniels and Chiwetel Ejiofor -- could be the one to do it.
Check out the latest trailer for The Martian.
8 Pan (Release Date: October 9)
Thanks to films like Maleficent and Snow White and the Huntsman, moviegoers are fast becoming accustomed to re-imagined versions of their favorite fairy tale characters. This Warner Bros. release aims to keep that capitalize on this with Pan, a new take on the origins of both Peter Pan (Levi Miller) and Captain Hook (Garrett Hedlund).
The film marks a change of pace for director Joe Wright, who's best known for period dramas like Atonement and Pride & Prejudice. Pan looks like it could offer a rollicking adventure for the whole family and features a vibrant palette for the fantastical world of Neverland. However, the biggest draw will likely be Hugh Jackman's against-type turn as the villainous Blackbeard.
Check out the latest trailer for Pan.
7 The Walk (Wide Release Date: October 9)
From Back to the Future to Forrest Gump, director Robert Zemeckis is responsible for some of the most celebrated films of all time. Moreover, he's almost equally known for his tendency to push the boundaries of filmmaking, and The Walk is no different. Joseph Gordon-Levitt stars as real-life high-wire artist Philippe Petit who set out to walk across the World Trade Center towers in 1974.
The film is being touted as a visual event, courtesy of Zemeckis' determination to recreate the experience of Petit's climactic trip across his wire. The Walk -- which costars Ben Kingsley, Charlotte Le Bon and James Badge Dale -- also marks Gordon-Levitt's first leading role since his directorial debut, Don Jon, in 2013. With its biopic drama and ambitious visual scope, the film could wind up getting some awards attention in the coming months.
Read our review for The Walk (which is currently playing in select IMAX theaters only).
6 Bridge of Spies (Release Date: October 16)
At this point, Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks have such a reputation both independently and separately that any film with either involved is bound to attract attention regardless of its subject matter. So when the two men collaborate on a project, moviegoers tend to take notice of the film in question. In Bridge of Spies, Hanks stars as American lawyer James B. Donovan, who is tasked with negotiating the release of a U.S. pilot whose plane went down in the Soviet Union during the Cold War.
International politics and wartime intrigue should lend the film plenty of juicy material to work with. Both Spielberg and Hanks have a noted love of history, and Bridge of Spies -- their fourth film together as director and star, respectively -- marks the first time they've tackled a major American conflict since Saving Private Ryan in 1998. Even though Bridge of Spies serves more as a political thriller than a battle-filled epic, the film has a lot to live up to when it hits theaters this month.
Check out the latest trailer for Bridge of Spies.
5 Crimson Peak (Release Date: October 16)
Gothic horror may seem like a dated notion to younger moviegoers used to the found footage films that have been so popular in the last decade (more on that shortly). However, if anyone can bring this particular brand of scares roaring back to life, it's Guillermo del Toro. The director of such darkly atmospheric releases as Pan's Labyrinth and The Devil's Backbone returns with Crimson Peak, his first straight-up horror film in years.
The film stars Mia Wasikowska as a young woman who discovers that her newfound love (Tom Hiddleston) isn't exactly who he claims to be. To make matters worse, he and his sister (Jessica Chastain) live in a breathtaking estate populated by all manner of malevolent spirits. The film's cast and premise seemingly give del Toro all the tools he needs to weave a character-driven tale with nothing but darkness on its mind.
Check out the latest trailer for Crimson Peak.
4 Goosebumps (Release Date: October 16)
Back in the 1990s, R.L. Stine's Goosebumps book series was a childhood favorite for a generation. Sixty-two novels -- each of which spun a separate horror story wherein adolescents faced off against supernatural forces -- were released in the original series from 1992 to 1997, and now Stine's universe comes to the big screen with Jack Black starring as the young adult author himself.
When Zach Cooper (Dylan Minnette) moves in next door to Stine, he and his friend accidentally release all of Stine's monsters from his locked manuscripts, unleashing fan-favorite characters like Slappy the Dummy, the Abominable Snowman and the revenge-minded lawn gnomes onto their small town. The film looks like it will be a playful nostalgic trip for longtime fans of the books and a Gremlins-esque horror/comedy romp that can introduce a new generation to Stine's work.
Check out the latest trailer for Goosebumps.
3 The Last Witch Hunter (Release Date: October 23)
Fresh from the monstrous success of Furious 7, Vin Diesel hopes to launch another franchise with The Last Witch Hunter. The actor stars as an immortal warrior forced to team up with a young witch (Rose Leslie) to prevent the covens of New York City from unleashing a plague on humanity. Elijah Wood, Michael Caine and Julie Engelbrecht also star in the film
The Last Witch Hunter is the first directorial effort from Breck Eisner since the underrated horror-thriller The Crazies in 2010, and while the subject matter might make the film sound like a more modern take on the similarly titled Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters, Diesel's considerable fanbase and Eisner's camera work might transform The Last Witch Hunter into a sleeper hit this fall.
Check out the latest trailer for The Last Witch Hunter.
2 Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension (Release Date: October 23)
The Paranormal Activity franchise began as a low-budget riff on the classic haunted house premise. However, the first film's runaway success (and that of subsequent films) has expanded the story into much more than it was originally intended to entail. Now Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension -- the fifth entry in the main series (not counting last year's spinoff) -- hopes to reward its loyal fanbase with answers to the series' ongoing mysteries.
At this point, moviegoers are either devoted to seeing the Paranormal Activity franchise through to its apparent conclusion or will opt out of seeing how this latest film will tie together its predecessors. Presumably, its title implies that fans can expect to be taken into a new dimension and may get their first real glimpse at the demonic Toby at last.
Check out the latest trailer for Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension.
1 Steve Jobs (Wide Release Date: October 23)
Many fans might wonder why another film about the late Apple co-founder is on its way to theaters just two years after the Ashton Kutcher-starring Jobs covered similar ground. However, Steve Jobs offers a pedigree far stronger than that earlier release, with Oscar winners Danny Boyle (Slumdog Millionaire) and Aaron Sorkin (The Social Network) serving as director and writer, respectively.
Moreover, the new film stars Michael Fassbender -- an acclaimed performer and Oscar-nominated actor in his own right -- in the juicy lead role, alongside a cast that includes Kate Winslet, Seth Rogen and Jeff Daniels. Sorkin has proven before that he has a knack for making biopics about technological minds fascinating to all audiences, and Steve Jobs -- which is already earning stellar reviews -- is almost certainly a film we'll be talking about when Oscar time comes around.
Check out the latest trailer for Steve Jobs.
This month has a ton of options for moviegoers of all tastes, with an appropriately heavy helping of horror and supernatural terrors in the mix. From family fare like Goosebumps to R-rated creepfests like Crimson Peak, there's plenty here for Halloween aficionados. Likewise, audiences craving to get a jump on awards favorites like The Walk and Steve Jobs should make extra room in their schedule.
Once again, here are the 9 films to check out in October:
October 2: The Martian
October 9: Pan, The Walk
October 16: Bridge of Spies, Crimson Peak, Goosebumps
October 23: The Last Witch Hunter, Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension, Steve Jobs
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