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May 2012

Emergency Exit Through a Fiery Escape

The Raid: Redemption (2012)

Akhirwan Nurhaidir/
Sony Pictures Classics

Artfully sadistic and elegantly hypnotic, Gareth Evans’s “The Raid: Redemption” is a master class in brutally stylistic and simplistic storytelling. Ostensibly a traditional cops-vs.-bad-guys frenetic beat-’em-up, Mr. Evans executed his tale with such flair and guile that this is far superior fare to comparable genre pictures. Mr. Evans’s appreciation of and fascination with the Indonesian martial art pencak silat ensures that every punch and kick hits the mark, subjecting his audience to a relentless assault on the senses.

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Haunted Housekeeping

The Innkeepers (2012)

Magnet Releasing

Ti West and his regular collaborator Larry Fessenden have forged a reasonably successful independent horror studio with Glass Eye Pix, from which “The Innkeepers” is the latest offering. While Mr. Fessenden’s directorial efforts are broader (in all senses), Mr. West has been steadily refining a specific style over the course of three features (discounting his mainstream diversion, “Cabin Fever 2: Spring Fever”), namely a kind of measured, reserved, retro horror that eschews gore and obvious schlock tactics. “The Innkeepers” is the apogee of this project, and it could mark a turning point for Mr. West and his future ambitions.

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Learn to Leave the Past Alone

Dark Shadows (2012)

Peter Mountain/Warner Brothers Pictures

One might imagine that a partnership between Tim Burton and vampires would yield compelling results. Mr. Burton’s appeal derives from his distinct imagination and the way he combines dark themes and youthful exuberance into genre movies. Films such as “Alice in Wonderland,” “Big Fish” and “Ed Wood,” illustrate Mr. Burton’s signature brand of aestheticism and complexity. Good or bad, few would describe Mr. Burton as conventional. But his newest film, “Dark Shadows,” never establishes any sort of originality. Flat characters, predictable plotting and boring action sequences make Mr. Burton’s latest an ordinary waste of two hours.

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