“Riders Of Justice”
What You Need To Know: Mads Mikkelsen tries to walk a tricky line of violence and dark comedy, and probably only in the way that the Scandanavians can pull off. Written and directed by Danish screenwriter/filmmaker Anders Thomas Jensen (“After the Wedding,” “Men & Chicken” also starring Mikkelsen), “Riders Of Justice” follows a soldier forced to care for his teenage daughter after his wife is killed in a tragic train accident. However, a survivor from the wreck claims foul play and begins to suspect his wife was murdered and he embarks on a bloody mission of revenge. Hilarious, right? Nikolaj Lie Kaas, Andrea Heick Gadeberg, Lars Brygmann, Nicolas Bro, Gustav Lindh, Roland Møller also star in the film.
Release Date: May 14 via Magnolia and May 21 on VOD
What You Need to Know: A spinoff from the “Saw” series, which follows a detective and his rookie partner as they investigate a series of grisly murders that are reminiscent of their cities dark past, “Spiral” looks both to borrow from its built-in audience as well as reestablish itself as something new. Directed by Darren Lynn Bousman and starring Chris Rock and Samuel L. Jackson, it’s tough to tell yet if the film will manage to reassert itself as something more than what the franchise ultimately became and link itself closer with the first installment. One of many films delayed due to COVID-19, as one of the first major horror film releases of the year, it will be interesting to see whether it can draw big numbers for some collective scares.
Release Date: May 14 via Lionsgate
“Army of the Dead”
What You Need to Know: It’s been a good few months for fans of director Zach Snyder. First, there was the release of his cut of “Justice League”.” Now, there’s his upcoming release through Netflix, the zombie action thriller “Army of the Dead” starring Dave Bautista. Following a group of mercenaries tasked with venturing into a quarantine zone for a high stakes heist, the film looks to capture a “Suicide Squad” like energy with the band of unlikely heroes, hopefully. However, it will have a bit more fun than the aforementioned superhero film. The film also stars Ella Purnell, Omari Hardwick, Tig Notaro and Raúl Castillo.
Release Date: May 14 via Netflix
What You Need to Know: One of the many fun aspects of festival circuits is when a film catches us totally by surprise. One such instance in the 2020 run was Michel Franco’s hard-to-watch but powerful “New Order.” The central plot follows members of a wealthy family who have gathered for a wedding disrupted by a nearby protest that escalates into violence in Mexico City. Franco both wrote and directed the film which stars Naian González Norvind, Dario Yazbek Bernal, Diego Boneta and Fernando Cuautle. Our critic found the film “unflinching,” writing, “A brilliantly unflinching look at a society built on extreme disparities that reads more like an omen than a far-fetched fantasy, “New Order” repeatedly subverts any hope of redemption. It guts you with the worst of human nature like Franco often does, but within a larger sociopolitical scale, and for that, it’s utterly unshakable.”
Release Date: May 21 via Neon
What You Need to Know: It seems we’ve reached the age of making films dedicated to humanizing (or at least trying to) iconic villains who would remain more interesting as simply villains. We had “The Joker” in 2019 and now, for some reason, “Cruella,” which is going to attempt to humanize the Disney villain who skinned puppies for coats. Sure. In this high-fashion romp, Emma Stone stars stepping into the live-action shows of Glenn Close, who last played the character. What makes the film all the more perplexing is the wide range of talent behind the scenes. “I, Tonya” director Craig Gillespie helms the project while “The Favourite” scribe Tony McNamara is credited as one of the many screenwriters. Emma Thompson and Mark Strong also star.
Release Date: May 28 via Disney+
“A Quiet Place Part II”
What You Need to Know: “A Quiet Place Part II” has had a long wait to hit the screen thanks to all the COVID-19 drama and delays, but John Krasinski’s monster/family drama sequel is finally here and obviously spawning a franchise that will go beyond this film. As (spoiler!) Krasinski’s character died at the end of the original film, he remains behind the camera again, and Emily Blunt, Noah Jupe, and Millicent Simmonds return to reprise their family-in-peril from the original drama. Series newcomers include Cillian Murphy and Djimon Honsou. Presumably, the sequel attempts what the first one did so well: thrills and frights, but embedded in an authenticity of family and emotional high stakes.
Release Date: May 28 via Paramount
Honorable Mentions: “The Killing Of Two Lovers,” directed by Robert Machoian, will be released on May 14, with our critic writing that it “…depicts the complexities of separation in marriage with an articulate confidence and a commitment to visual storytelling.” “Us Kids” which follows the powerful movement behind March For Our Lives, will be released on May 14th as well. May 7 will see IFC Films‘ crime drama, “The Dry” starring Eric Bana, Netflix release of the film “Monster,” directed by Anthony Mandler and starring Kelvin Harrison Jr. as the protagonist whose world crumbles around him when he’s charged with felony murder.