What we're watching and playing this week
This year appears to be Hollywood’s annus horror-bilis and the series of scares bursting out of cinema screens continues with this sickly twisted Jordan Peele effort.
Now we’ve never had the chance to chat to a shrink about our ultimate nightmare scenario of having a bunch of demonic doppelgängers out there waiting to tear us limb from limb, but thankfully the Oscar-winning director of Get Out pretty much embodies our greatest fears with this suitably scary psychological horror.
We’ve also often had happy dreams of owning a beach house and getting away from it all at the drop of a hat. However, in Us, the Wilson family’s coastal retreat soon switches from the idyllic to the sadistic as ‘The Tethered’ arrive on their driveway, exact replicas of their own close-knit quartet, just kitted out in red jumpsuits and armed with gold scissors.
Lupita Nyong’o and Winston Duke take the leads as Mr and Mrs Wilson, whose seemingly impossible task it is to keep a lid on the absolute terror that befalls their apparently placid getaway.
The plot begins back in 1986, when Nyong’o’s Adelaide comes across her sinister lookalike in a house of mirrors on Santa Cruz boardwalk. The fact she can still set foot near that place is almost as much of a shock as the arrival of the Wilsons’ would-be assassins.
Peele’s sublime switch from comedy skits to top-notch horror continues apace, with Us part two of a loosely intertwined quadrilogy. This might be hard to top, though.
In cinemas March 21
The Aftermath (00)
Having Ridley Scott as executive producer is certain to bring any film gravitas, and with Keira Knightley and Alexander Skarsgård in leading roles, there are high hopes for The Aftermath. Set in the rubble of a post-WWII Hamburg, Knightley’s Rachael Morgan is reunited with her British officer husband (Jason Clarke), whose offer to share a requisitioned German mansion with its widower owner (Skarsgård) leads to a web of betrayal.
In cinemas March 21
Hotel Mumbai (18)
Faithfully recreating a real-life atrocity such as the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks was never going to be an easy task. But thanks to some fine scripting by John Collee and director Anthony Maras, it’s hard not to feel as if you were one of the petrified guests trapped in the under-siege Taj Mahal Palace Hotel. Dev Patel puts on his bravest face as waiter Arjun, who’ll stop at nothing to save both patrons and colleagues from the terrorists.
In cinemas March 21
Brit Marling’s knack of writing instant cult favourites (Sound of My Voice, Another Earth, The East) shows little sign of abating, so it’s of little surprise Netflix has allowed her to elaborate on the first series of this genre-crossing drama. The OA: Part II thrusts Prairie (Marling), the formerly blind, formerly kidnapped heroine into a more salubrious dimension than the first series as she continues her mission to save other lost souls.
On Netflix from March 22
The Sinking city (PEGI 18)
An ode to lovecraftian lore, this detective-horror will have you solve... tentacle-based cases. Yes, we did just have the very familiar Call of Cthulhu: The Official Video Game come out a few months ago, but The Sinking City sets itself apart by adding gun fights, a monster-infested city to explore via boat, and supernatural locals that need your help. They have personal issues, too.
Out on PS4, Xbox One and PC from March 21
Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice
What is it about the simple sound of samurai swords clashing together – done so masterfully – that makes us want to pick this game up immediately? It could be because it nostalgically resonates with the sounds of From Software’s previous Soulsbourne series, but we’re betting the real reason they made it so satisfying is because players will be parrying their way through hundreds of foes, and that sound will never get old.
Parrying, yes, but actually beating the onslaught of horrifying enemies? Hardly, as Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice is looking to be From Software’s hardest game yet – and that says oceans. Notorious for coining the phrase “but is it as hard as Dark Souls?”, it’s harder to imagine how they could make any of their games any more gruelling. But the developers are now trying to shake off their previous success and bring something fresh to the table. In doing so, they’ve delivered a brilliant new combat system that quite frankly looks intimidating, and that’s good.
The first huge difference is how vertical Sekiro plays, thanks to Sekiro’s. aka the one-armed wolf, grappling hook that lets you swing around trees and scale up buildings. You’ll need to do that to hide in the, well, shadows in order to sneak up on enemies for a one-hit kill. It won’t waste any of your stamina bar either, because the developers have done away with the stamina bar altogether (hoorah), which means you can jump, dodge, defend and attack to your heart’s content. So far, not so hard, eh? But they’ve also thrown out the RPG element from previous games, meaning no stat upgrades, no stronger weapons, no nothing – just the sword you start with, a customiseable prosthetic arm and your much-needed gaming skills.
It’s intense, especially as the monsters you face, themed around creepy Japanese folklore, only get more difficult to handle. Just so you don’t keep dying way more than twice, players will earn experience from beating enemies, giving them access to three types of skill trees, including shinobi, ashina and prosthetic arts. These skills will help you get the upper-hand in battle, including one that creates a mist of blood upon beating a foe, so surrounding enemies will lose sight of you, giving you a huge advantage to strike with ease. Apart from that, you’re on your own.
Who knows, maybe that phrase will change to “but is it as hard as Sekiro?”.
Available on PS4, Xbox One, PC. March 22.
Devil May Cry 5
We came, we saw, we sliced our way through countless foes in style. Get this, now.
The Division 2
Wait, is this just Tom Clancy’s The Division except without snow? We hope not, Ubisoft. We have our fingers crossed.
A construction and management-based game sounds like a snorefest – so say those who never played Tropico.
Yoshi’s crafted world
Is this just supposed to be for kids? Who cares, as this 2.5D platformer simply looks amazing.