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The New Movies of October 2016, Ranked

By  · Published on October 5th, 2016

So much violence, and a little bit of love.

October is upon us and instead of simply picking the movies we think you should see, we’ve decided to rank the wide releases hitting theaters this month from “Maybe See” to “Must See.”

Here’s how we rank the new movies of October 2016.

10. Ouija: Origin of Evil (10/21)

Pros: In addition to being October’s only wide release horror film – sorry Boo! A Madea Halloween – this prequel to 2014’s surprise hit is the latest from director Mike Flanagan. His previous film, Hush, is a terrific little thriller, and his two others (Absentia, Oculus) offer some worthwhile genre beats as well.

Cons: Did you even see Ouija? Someone did obviously as it grossed $100 million worldwide, but you’d be hard-pressed defending its lack of scares. Any way you cut it, this is still a CG-heavy prequel about a board game.

9. Asura: The City of Madness (10/7)

Pros: If you get a chance to see a Korean thriller on the big screen you should take it, period. This one follows a corrupt cop’s efforts to survive the twisted antics and double-crosses of a city’s politicians and police force, and it builds to a ridiculously bloody and violent third act.

Cons: There’s a bit of a learning curve here as the first act lays characters and motivations on fast and thick while some plot threads threaten to become convoluted.

8. The Accountant (10/14)

Pros: Ben Affleck plays an autistic accountant forced to defend himself by killing people with high-powered weapons in a new film from the director of Warrior.

Cons: Ben Affleck plays an autistic accountant forced to defend himself by killing people with high-powered weapons in a new film from the writer of The Judge.

7. The Birth of a Nation (10/7)

Pros: The story of Nat Turner’s slave rebellion wowed Sundance with its dramatic narrative and powerful message about standing up and fighting for what’s right.

Cons: Plenty of critics and viewers were less impressed feeling instead that it’s a pretty standard tale. Also, writer/director/star Nate Parker’s “troubles” and poorly chosen words about them might be making the film less and less appealing by the minute. Ideally viewers would be able to separate the art from the artist, but audiences can’t be forced into making that distinction.

Read our full review:

Sundance 2016: Birth of a Nation Reclaims That Title to Honor Nat Turner’s Rebellion

6. The Girl on the Train (10/7)

Pros: I’ll watch Emily Blunt in anything, and the cast is fantastic too including Rebecca Ferguson, Justin Theroux, Luke Evans, Allison Janney, Edgar Ramirez, and Lisa Kudrow. The film looks to be an intriguing mystery, and the script is by Erin Cressida Wilson who gave us the beautiful and odd Secretary.

Cons: As great as Blunt is, she doesn’t fit the character here of an overweight, messy woman, and that physicality is by all accounts important to the book’s narrative.

5. In a Valley of Violence (10/21)

Pros: Ethan Hawke is a natural fit for a western, and he’s absolutely terrific here as a stranger who wanders into the wrong town. The violence cracks, the story moves like a train, and it’s surprisingly funny as well. It’s also the best John Travolta’s been since the ’90s.

Cons: The story is ridiculously one-note and lacks any kind of real depth, and the humor threatens to upend the tone at times.

Read our full review:

In a Valley of Violence Review: Ti West Delivers with John Wayne Wick-lite

4. Under the Shadow (10/7)

Pros: Iran remains a country removed from our common awareness, so any glimpse into its society is worth a watch. Happily this ’80s set film offers both insight and utterly terrifying sequences. It’s a wonderfully creepy tale of a woman fighting both the system and a malicious spirit, and fans of films like The Babadook are well-advised to check it out as it pairs weighty subtext will genuine chills.

Cons: There are more than a few traditional and cheap jump-scares here complete with loud noises that threaten to overwhelm the atmosphere and tone.

Read our full review:

Terrifying Winds Blow Under the Shadow

3. Moonlight (10/21)

Pros: There’s no film this year that I’ve seen labeled a “masterpiece” as consistently and insistently as this one. Everything from the acting to the direction and script have been endlessly praised at each festival where it’s played, and it feels like the kind of film that promises to be both incredible and important.

Cons: I’m guessing it’s something of a downer, and its lack of names in front of and behind the camera threaten to see it disappear in the crowded multiplex.

Read our full review:

Moonlight Review: An Instant Classic

2. Jack Reacher: Never Go Back (10/21)

Pros: 2012’s Jack Reacher remains a fun, compact, eminently re-watchable action/thriller, and despite the Tom Cruise haters knocking him for not matching up to Reacher’s stature in the books he delivers the goods. Lee Child’s novels are a ton of fun, and Reacher is just a ridiculously appealing character.

Cons: Christopher McQuarrie didn’t return to write or direct, and while Ed Zwick (The Last Samurai) is a competent director he’s less witty and more workmanlike. The novel they chose features a character (Susan Turner, played by Coby Smulders) whose connection with Reacher should have been built up across a couple movies – like she was in the books – to add weight to the pair’s meeting that will be missing here.

1. The Handmaiden (10/21)

Pros: It’s a new Park Chan-wook movie! If that’s not enough for you it’s also a twisty, sexy, relentlessly beautiful film about sexuality, class, and double-crosses. It’s amazing, and if you have the chance to see it on the big screen you owe it to yourself to do so.

Cons: My single criticism of the film is going to sound odd, but there’s one too many sex scenes. The last one should have played solely to our ears and left the visuals to the imagination. This will make more sense when you see it, but again, it’s barely a criticism. See this movie.

Read our full review:

Cannes 2016: The Handmaiden Review

What are you seeing in theaters this month? Leave us a response below.

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Rob Hunter has been writing for Film School Rejects since before you were born, which is weird seeing as he's so damn young. He's our Chief Film Critic and Associate Editor and lists 'Broadcast News' as his favorite film of all time. Feel free to say hi if you see him on Twitter @FakeRobHunter.