Based on a Stephen King story first published in the 2020 anthology “If It Bleeds,” “Mr. Harrigan’s Phone” may disappoint fans of King’s more traditional horror oeuvre — mostly because it isn’t really horror. But that’s actually what’s best about it. Adapted for the screen by John Lee Hancock, a writer-director not known for spooky movies (“The Founder,” “The Highwaymen” and “The Blind Side”), the film stars Jaeden Martell (“It”) as Craig, a bullied high school kid who has been hired to read aloud to the wealthy old man of the title (Donald Sutherland), a curmudgeon in failing health who over the years becomes the boy’s mentor — so much so that Craig buys Harrigan a 2007 iPhone in gratitude. (The film is set in the 2000s. When Craig explains what the new device can do — spy on you, know what you like, spread disinformation — Harrigan says, prophetically, “All of us ought to be very frightened by this gizmo.”) After Harrigan dies and is buried with his phone, there is some suggestion of communication from beyond the grave, and some suspicious deaths follow. But King and Hancock don’t go very far with that, leaving the story’s supernatural elements implicit rather than explicit, in favor of a ghost story that works better — and pretty well at that — as a metaphor: a creepy, atmospheric cautionary tale about digital surveillance and the tyranny of electronics. PG-13. Available on Netflix. Contains mature thematic material, some strong language, violent content and brief drug material. 106 minutes. — M.O.
John Lee Hancock Q&A: ‘The Founder’ paints a mixed portrait of the man who took McDonald’s global
For anyone who may have been waiting 35 years to see a female version of the 1987 horror film “Hellraiser’s” bad guy — dubbed “Pinhead” by fans for the character’s facial acupuncture — gender equity is finally here. After multiple sequels, a rebooted version of “Hellraiser” has arrived, with mind-bending visuals and buckets full of gore — but it isn’t just another sequel. As director David Bruckner (“V/H/S”) put it, it’s more a “reimagining” than “strict canon.” In the 11th film in the franchise, the original film’s theme of vice is reprised in the lustful and newly sober character Riley (Odessa A’zion), who is struggling to live with her brother, her brother’s partner and a fourth, easily forgotten roommate. Behind on her bills and hoping for an easy score, the impulsive protagonist and her new beau steal a locked-up puzzle box after its sadistic millionaire owner goes missing. (The box will be familiar to fans of the earlier movies for its ability to open a portal to a realm of sexualized supernatural beings who push pain as the ultimate pleasure. They’re menacing as ever.) In no time, the box begins to do its thing, which isn’t pretty. Luckily, there’s an entire supporting cast of underdeveloped, fresh faces to sate the box’s appetite for carnage. No genuine relationships are established over the course of the film’s two hours (which seem longer), making the deaths lack a certain sense of devastation — even if the shock factor remains. “Hellraiser” could have used a little less on-screen cutting, and a bit more in the editing room, but it succeeds in one crucial regard: making a post-screening walk in the park with your dog after dark a lot more nerve-racking. R. Available on Hulu. Contains strong bloody horror, violence and gore, coarse language throughout, some sexual material and brief graphic nudity. 120 minutes. — O.M.
Can $190,000 guarantee a better life? That is the question initially confronted by the jubilant title character in “To Leslie,” the feature directorial debut of TV veteran Michael Morris, about a lottery winner played by Andrea Riseborough. Life for Leslie and her young son, you would think, would change for the better. But six years after the win, Leslie has been kicked out of a motel and shunned by everyone she knows and is living from bottle to bottle, with barely a cent to her name. Any attempt to start anew is met with hesitation from her now-grown son, James (Owen Teague), who has made a living for himself. (At one point, when Leslie invites James to the zoo, he asks her: What if people stood around and watched you suffer? They already do, she tells him.) Although the how and the why of Leslie’s downfall are parceled only out in pieces by screenwriter Ryan Binaco, Leslie dwells in the past, returning to the bar where her life once changed. Now she’s had so many second chances that, to others, she’s past the point of saving. Life has moved on, and everyone — especially two close friends (Stephen Root and Allison Janney) — remember only the burdensome train wreck that Leslie’s life has become. The film’s theme of redemption may be overly familiar, but Riseborough rises to the occasion, delivering a vulnerable performance as a woman who has been one long disappointment to her friends. The list of crossed-out phone numbers she carries highlights just how many bridges Leslie has burned as she tries to set herself straight. By the time two motel owners (Marc Maron and Andre Royo) try to throw Leslie a lifeline near the end of the film, you’ll be ready for her to put the bottle down and clean up her act. R. Available on demand. Contains strong language throughout and some drug use. 119 minutes. — O.D.
In “Luckiest Girl Alive,” Mila Kunis plays a New Yorker who seems to have it all — great job, hunky fiance and a planned wedding in Nantucket — until questions from a documentary filmmaker cause her to re-examine a troubling high school incident from her past. R. Available on Netflix. Contains violence, rape, sexual material, strong language throughout and teen substance use. 115 minutes.
Dolph Lundgren and Frank Grillo face off in “Operation Seawolf,” a nautical action thriller about Germany’s effort to attack the U.S. homeland by sea in the waning days of World War II. Unrated. Available on demand. 86 minutes.
Winner of an Audience Award at this year’s SXSW Film Festival, “Pretty Problems” is a relationship comedy — Deadline calls it “laugh-out-loud” funny — set in wine country. Unrated. Available on demand. 103 minutes.
The documentary “The Redeem Team” follows the efforts of the U.S. men’s basketball team to redeem itself at the 2008 Olympics after winning only a bronze medal in 2004. TV-MA. Available on Netflix. 98 minutes.
Born from the fires of 2004 failures, Team USA basketball now built to last
While hiking in the remote woods, a couple (Jake Lacy of “White Lotus” and Maika Monroe of “It Follows”) experience sinister events in the horror film “Significant Other.” R. Available on Paramount Plus. Contains violence, gore and strong language. 90 minutes.
New movies to stream from home this week – The Washington Post