Film Releases: When nowhere's safe and sound
A Quiet Place (Cert 15, 90 mins)
Silence is golden - and imperative for survival - in John Krasinski's nerve-shredding horror thriller about a family battling against sightless otherworldly creatures that hunt by sound.
A single sneeze or cough could be fatal, and the lean, propulsive script, co-written by Bryan Woods, Scott Beck and Krasinski, takes delight in prickling our discomfort until we're ready to scream on the characters' behalf.
In the absence of dialogue, the film relies on beautifully calibrated gestures to convey emotion. Krasinski's real-life wife Emily Blunt delivers a powerhouse performance as a mother hen who is dedicated to preparing her children for a bleak future without her guiding influence.
The script's logic frays in places - it's unlikely a mattress would keep the beasties at bay, and a newborn baby conveniently slumbers through some of the tensest exchanges without a single giveaway gurgle - but it's impossible not to be held in a vice-like grip by the Abbott family's white-knuckle ordeal.
Ghost Stories (Cert 15, 98 mins)
In 2010, Jeremy Dyson and Andy Nyman's ruthlessly efficient horror anthology, Ghost Stories, scared audiences out of their seats at Liverpool Playhouse before transferring to London.
Sitting in the auditorium was an electrifying experience, and though the pair's big-screen adaptation doesn't come close to replicating the trickles of sweat of the stage version, it is, nevertheless, a well-crafted exercise in smoke and mirrors.
Philip Goodman (Nyman) is a professor of psychology who dedicates his life to debunking supernatural phenomena through the rigorous appliance of science on his TV show, Psychic Frauds.
He answers a cryptic call to arms from his ageing idol, Charles Cameron (Leonard Byrne), who implores Goodman to revisit three old cases. His belief in science and rigorous logic remains undimmed before a satisfying sting in the tail.
Love, Simon (Cert12A, 110 mins)
After decades of mainstream Hollywood marginalising gay characters to peripheral roles as the best friend or confidant, Love, Simon walks quietly yet proudly out of the closet and reassures the target teenage audience that everyone can be the hero of a glossy love story, regardless of sexual orientation.
Based on the young adult novel Simon Vs The Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli, director Greg Berlanti's unabashedly feelgood comedy drama places the central character's internal angst under a glitterball without sacrificing goofy supporting characters, tears or reconciliations.
In the seclusion of his bedroom, Simon Spier (Nick Robinson) wrestles with his burgeoning sexuality, unsure of the reaction of his family or an inner circle of friends, including Leah (Katherine Langford).
Berlanti builds towards a gushing romantic grandstand finish that should inspire goofy grins, tears and even smatterings of applause.