Late-Breaking Film Reviews

First up, Vadim Rizov has seen Aliens in the Attic (now playing at the Meridian and other theaters), and here's his take:

Despite the great promise of its title and creative team (from the director of Like Mike! Starring not one, but two SNL alums!), Aliens in the Attic is cheap, shoddy, crass, and depressing fun for the whole family--by which I mean eight-year-old boys. The jokes are pitched firmly at their frame of reference: Dirty socks, mucus, and kicks to the crotch abound. The Pearson family retreats from a carefully unnamed city to an equally unspecific rural American location (actually New Zealand, but who's checking?). Dad (Kevin Nealon) worries about son Tom's (Carter Jenkins) declining grades and bad attitude; Tom is intentionally doing badly to shed his nerdy mathlete skin. To defeat those perky Mucinex commercial-looking things in the attic, he'll need both brawn and mathematic formulas! The most notable other lesson learned is that portable technology doesn't drive families apart; it actually gives kids valuable key-mashing skills, useful in defending against space invaders. Also noted: not judging people by their appearance, being respectful to your parents, the value of abstinence--as learned by Ashley Tisdale, 23 and already a shrieking harpy, in a creepy subplot where Tom obsesses over keeping her virginal--and, oddly, that enhanced interrogation techniques are unacceptable. Good to teach that young. (PG, 86 minutes) VADIM RIZOV

Make the jump for the scary-sounding The Collector...

The Collector In this gore-heavy, logic-free thriller, the talented Josh Stewart stars as Arkin, an ex-con turned handyman who breaks into the remote Victorian home of his latest clients, only to discover that the family isn't on vacation, as planned, but are instead locked in the basement, where a masked serial killer (Juan Fernández) is slowly torturing them to death. Having written the last three Saw films, screenwriters Patrick Melton and Marcus Dunstan are now certified experts in traps and torture, and so it is that the killer, for reasons that don't make much sense, has rigged the house with sharp-edged booby traps, with a heavy emphasis on knives, nails, and fishhooks, all of which Arkin must sidestep while trying to locate the family's 8-year-old daughter. Making his directorial debut, Dunstan displays a knack for building suspense. And yet, weirdly, one senses, amidst all the requisite blood spray, a reluctance on the filmmaker's part to linger lovingly over the pierced skins and protruding entrails of the killer's various victims, a reticence that may prevent Dunstan from helming a Saw flick of his own someday but which earns him here an infinitesimal bit of respect. (R, 85 minutes, at Meridian and other theaters) CHUCK WILSON

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