Zach Gilford

The Purge 2

“If you’re not purging, we advise you to get off the streets as quickly as possible.” Here’s the thing about The Purge (the fictious day that The Purge films, now blossoming into one heck of a franchise, centers on) — it seems easy enough to avoid. Just stay inside. Hide in a closet with a weapon and ride it out. Get an alarm system. Don’t look out your windows. Hey, maybe even get out of town? Or, at the very least, why not take the whole day leading up to the crime-addled night off, so that you might have some small smidgen of hope that you’ll be off the streets when it starts? See! Easy! Just stay inside, you guys. Of course, we’ve already learned that staying inside — even with all the trappings a big-ass security system and a good plan can provide — doesn’t always work. James DeMonaco‘s The Purge (last year’s surprise horror hit) saw a family attempt just that, and it didn’t really pan out for them. So if literal security can’t save you during the Purge, what can? Perhaps Frank Grillo, as the tough-talking leading-man-in-the-making provides a sliver of salvation in the latest trailer for The Purge 2: Anarchy.

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Devil

If the proliferation of the found footage conceit in horror movies was ever in doubt, let January 2014 stand as proof. Not one but two found footage horror movies are currently in wide release across America. While it doesn’t solve every issue that plagues the vast majority of films in this particular sub-genre, Devil’s Due fixes enough of them while also managing to be a breezy, enjoyable film in its own right.

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Seeing as it’s October and all, that makes it the time of the year when most film fans start looking forward to Halloween and obsessively watching and re-watching every horror movie they can get their hands on. This October there seems to be a depressing dearth of new horror-related wide releases in the theaters though, leaving a hole in all of our hearts. Depressing as the state of the multiplexes right now may be, there is a new horror movie called Devil’s Due coming out this January, and it even stars everybody’s favorite sheepish, second-string quarterback, Friday Night Lights’ Zach Gilford. The film is about a character played by Gilford meeting and marrying a character played by Allison Miller (TV’s Go On), which is all well and good and everything—who doesn’t like to see young love, after all—but problems start to pop up when Miller’s character gets pregnant and all signs point to her baby being the devil. Big problems. Click through to watch the baby cause a little prenatal havoc.

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You probably missed Arnold Schwarzenegger’s comeback. Most people did. The Last Stand was supposed to be the former Governor’s mighty return to movies, but instead it grossed a paltry $12 million domestically and now marks Schwarzenegger’s lowest grossing movie ever (factoring inflation). It’s a shame, because those who (really should) take the opportunity to give The Last Stand the second chance it deserves on video will discover that it’s not just an enjoyable burst of Golden Age action cinema filmmaking, but a meta narrative that makes it far more intriguing than it appears. Most comeback movies dutifully pander to fans’ nostalgic expectations by just giving them more of what ain’t broke. Exhibit A: The Expendables series, which recreates for its actors (including Schwarzenegger) the roles they’ve always inhabited while exhibiting an “Oorah! We still got it!” enthusiasm about bringing back its aging heroes. The Last Stand, however, isn’t interested in simply rebooting its star into his old plot and character archetypes. Instead, it offers Schwarzenegger a comeback movie with a character — Sheriff Ray Owens — with a comeback narrative of his own. What’s more, because it biographically grafts Ray to Arnold, The Last Stand turns its fictional character’s journey from former to restored hero into one that parallels the very re-ascension Schwarzenegger is undergoing with this film.

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As written, The Last Stand is not an interesting movie. It’s a simple modern-day western as action flick with dialogue that’s nearly 100% expositional and a plot that offers nothing in the way of surprise, suspense or subtlety. It could really have been made at any time and starred any major or minor actor and been roughly the same as what we’re looking at this weekend with Arnold Schwarzenegger in the leading role. But The Last Stand is arriving now and indeed with Schwarzenegger’s name on the top of the marquee, his first starring vehicle in ten years. That makes the movie of note all by itself, in such a way that it might as well be actually titled “The Return of Arnold Schwarzenegger.” Or “Arnold is Back,” although this would imply that it’s an opportunity for winking bits of self-awareness. Surprisingly, there’s not a lot of silly references to the Arnie classics and signature lines. He thankfully got the obvious “I’m back” shtick out of his system in last year’s The Expendables 2.

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In Our Nature

Writer/director Brian Savelson‘s In Our Nature features a ton of pithy bits of wisdom. Along with John Slattery, Gabrielle Union, Jena Malone and Zach Gilford, these poetic nuggets are on display in the film’s trailer which also promises family tension and vegan-bashing. In the film, an estranged father and son accidentally bring their girlfriends to the family cabin on the same weekend, causing friction and confrontation for a group with a lot of issues to work through (and more than a few clever turns of phrase). Get ready to bite-sized chunks of insight and check out the trailer for yourself:

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Young actor Zach Gilford is best known for his role as Matt Saracen, the unlikely choice for a starting quarterback on TV’s Friday Night Lights. Over the course of a few seasons, Gilford took Saracen from being a shy, mumbly-mouthed, and in-over-his-head second-stringer to being a less shy, less mumbly-mouthed star player with aspirations toward being an artist; so you know the kid has the chops. But even if you’ve already proven your skills on the small screen, you don’t just jump right into meaty Hollywood roles, you’ve got to pay your dues. To that end, Gilford has recently signed on to play Arnold Schwarzenegger’s sidekick in the upcoming action showdown Last Stand. Last Stand is the Kim Jee-Woon-directed Western that has been described as a cross between Die Hard and High Noon. It stars Schwarzenegger as an aging, small town sheriff who finds himself mixed up in some nasty business with a Mexican drug cartel. You see, one of the cartel’s big wheels has broken out of a U.S. prison, and Schwarzenegger and his sleepy town are the only things that stand between the escaped con and his pathway of destruction back into Mexico. I haven’t heard it mentioned until now, but apparently Schwarzenegger also has a bright-eyed young deputy under his command. This is the role that Gilford will be playing. It may not be a glamorous part, but you’ve got to break out of the stigma of being a TV and indie film actor somehow, and jumping into a […]

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Here in Texas, we are more brown than green. I say that because all the grass is usually pretty dead. It’s hot here. But here in Austin, saving the environment is a pretty big deal, as well. But our efforts — mighty as they may be — are nothing in comparison with the tree-hugging liberalism of Hollywood. Or so you might think. In the new documentary Greenlit, director Miranda Bailey explores the world of “green” or eco-friendly filmmaking and how it works (or doesn’t work) in the real world.

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Up today is a trio of films, all with unique and fresh young voices behind them. By my estimation, they all have a shot at making my “Best of” list at the end of the festival, which is saying quite a lot seeing as this year has been a spectacular one in the snowy mountains of Utah.

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