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This Is Where All the Good Stuff Happens: Spice up Your September with These Standout Movies

Happy September and welcome to darker days, both figuratively and literally, as you’ll see in the best of this month’s movie offerings. This is where the summer blockbusters morph into black comedies and thrillers, setting up shop alongside superheroes and the supernatural. It’s all for the best, since suspense and scares are made for snuggling — whether with a cozy blanket or your favorite furry friends. Throw on your mask to check out Marvel’s latest (it’s earning rave audience reviews) and then if you like, tuck in at home where you can catch the rest.

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings

September 3, 2021 (Theaters and VoD; Disney+ after 45 days)

Directed by Destin Daniel Cretton (Short Term 12); written by Cretton and Dave Callaham (Wonder Woman 1984, Godzilla [2014]); starring Simu Liu, Awkwafina, Meng’er Zhang, Fala Chen, Florian Munteanu, Benedict Wong, Michelle Yeoh, Ben Kingsley, and Tony Leung. On the heels of Black Panther, here’s another new-to-the-big-screen superhero, and my gods, doesn’t that trailer make you want to run to the theater right this minute? Master Kung Fu artist Shang-Chi (Liu) finds he cannot break away from his past after an attack by the terrorist organization he used to be a part of, kicking off an epic battle with Xu Wenwu aka The Mandarin (Leung) — who happens to be Shang-Chi’s father. Now that’s baggage. With Awkwafina by his side as best pal Katy, and Michelle Yeoh as his aunt Ying Nan, at least Shang-Chi has great advisors…and the fight choreography looks simply spectacular. This is the must-see movie of the year.

Wild Indian

September 3, 2021 (Theaters, VoD)

Feature directorial debut and written by Lyle Mitchell Corbine, Jr.; starring Michael Greyeyes, Chaske Spencer, Jesse Eisenberg, and Kate Bosworth. If you, like me, enjoy feeling terribly uncomfortable, apprehensive, and even a little afraid, this thriller looks like just the ticket. Haunted by a terrible boyhood deed they covered up, two men find their secrets can’t stay hidden forever, especially when murder is involved. When their paths cross again, a nasty reckoning seems inevitable. Grab a blankie and hold on tight as Greyeyes holds you rapt. Yes, please and thank you.


September 10, 2021 (Netflix)

Directed by Cedric Nicolas-Troyan (The Huntsman: Winter’s War); written by Umair Aleem (Extraction); starring Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Woody Harrelson, Michael Huisman, Miku Martineau, and Tadanobu Asano. Winstead plays the titular assassin, who’s been poisoned and has but twenty-four hours to seek vengeance before she dies. We’ve seen this story before (Crank, D.O.A.), but I’ll take a kickass woman lead every time it’s served, and since this comes from “A producer” (heh) who made Atomic Blonde, let’s set our hopes high for this action thriller.

The Card Counter

September 10, 2021 (Theaters, VoD)

Directed and written by Paul Schraeder (American Gigolo, Taxi Driver, Raging Bull, The Comfort of Strangers, Bringing Out the Dead); starring Oscar Isaac, Tiffany Haddish, Willem Dafoe, and Ty Sheridan. Isaac and Haddish play poker in more ways than one (check out that chemistry!) and what more do you need to know? Ah well, if you insist: Former military man William Tell (Isaac) tries to keep a younger version of himself (Sheridan) from heading down a troublesome path by taking him under his wing. As everyone who’s ever watched a movie knows, Tell’s more likely to get dragged into his protégé’s mess, and that’s where the real fun starts. All in? All in.


September 10, 2021 (Theaters, HBO Max)

Directed by James Wan (The Conjuring, Insidious, Saw); written by Akela Cooper (Hell Fest, American Horror Story, Luke Cage, The 100), Wan, and Ingrid Bisu; starring Annabelle Wallis, Maddie Hasson, George Young, and Michole Briana White. Wan promises he’s taking us down a new and differently terrifying road with this trippy horror outing that’s sandwiched between the director’s Aquaman blockbusters. A woman (Wallis) experiences viscerally graphic visions of murder that may or may not be real. Unravel the mystery in a theater or at home thanks to same day releases.

Small Engine Repair

September 10, 2021 (Theaters, VoD)

Feature directorial debut and written by John Pollono (based on his award-winning play); starring Jon Bernthal and Pollono (reprising their roles), Shea Whigham, and Spencer House. Black comedy about three friends who reunite for a mysterious — presumably criminal — task. Coincidentally, Bernthal is a criminally underrated actor who’s at his best in darkly-toned works (see The Punisher, The Walking Dead), so I simply cannot wait to see the trouble he and his buddies have gotten themselves into.

Blue Bayou

September 17, 2021 (Theaters, VoD)

Directed, written, and starring Justin Chon (Ms. Purple, Gook, The Twilight Saga); also starring Alicia Vikander, Mark O’Brien, Linh Dan Pham, Sydney Kowalske, Vondie Curtis-Hall, and Emory Cohen. An adopted Korean man who’s lived in America since he was three is arrested and, due to a paperwork mishap, faces deportation. This horrifying look at the reality of racism and immigration law in the United States premiered at Cannes, with what look to be award-worthy performances from Vikander and Chon.


September 17, 2021 (Theaters, VoD)

Directed and written by Joe Carnahan (The A-Team, Narc) with Kurt McLeod; starring Gerard Butler, Frank Grillo, and Alexis Louder. Action-thriller about a con artist (Grillo), competing assassins, and the rookie cop trying to protect him. This looks crazy fun, with perfectly over-the-top performances from Grillo and Butler — and Watchmen’s Louder hitting just the right notes. No one here gets out alive?

Prisoners of the Ghostland

September 17, 2021 (Theaters, VoD)

Directed by Sion Sono (Love Exposure); written by Aaron Hendry (Inhumans, Teen Wolf) and Reza Sixo Safai (Sabotage); starring Nicholas Cage, Sofia Boutella, Nick Cassavetes, Tak Sakaguchi, and Bill Moseley. Speaking of crazy, here’s Nic Cage going all-in again, this time in a fantastical take on Escape from New York. Literally — “Hero” (Cage) must enter a nightmarish supernatural world to rescue the governor’s granddaughter or suffer the explosive consequences. C’mon; you know you wanna watch.

Best Sellers

September 17, 2021 (Theaters, VoD)

Directed by Lina Roessler (Mustard Seed, Winter, Lost Girl); written by Anthony Grieco; starring Michael Caine, Aubrey Plaza, Scott Speedman, Cary Elwes, and Ellen Wong. A delightfully wicked Plaza stars as a young publisher trying to kick off her career with a cantankerous author who doesn’t want to do a book tour (or much of anything else). This excellent pairing means we get to see Caine’s curmudgeonly crank meet his match in Aubrey Plaza’s charm and acerbic wit. Sure, they’ll probably end up besties by the sappy end, but we’ll thoroughly enjoy the journey.

The Guilty

September 24, 2021 (Netflix)

Directed by Antoine Fuqua (The Magnificent Seven, Training Day, The Equalizer, Southpaw); written by Nic Pizzolatto (True Detective) (no chance for plagiarism here); starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Ethan Hawke, Riley Keough, Christina Vidal, Eli Goree, Da’Vine Joy Randolph, Paul Dano, and Peter Sarsgaard. English remake of Gustav Möller’s award-winning Danish thriller about a police officer (Gyllenhaal) who receives a 911 call that leaves him chasing down clues to a possible kidnapping. Despite the poorly edited trailer, Gyllenhaal has proven he’s tailor-made for suspense on either side of the law and I’ve no doubt he’ll kill it in this role. Don’t even get me started on the rest of the excellent cast — my money’s on Dano and Sarsgaard as CREEPY.

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Writer and Editor-in-Chief at @oohlo_com, also seen @pajiba, @bust_magazine. Currently working on her first novel, Cindy seeks solace in science fiction and tales of darkness not her own.

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