This month's notable theatrical releases
Below, our editors have selected the most interesting films debuting this month, listed in alphabetical order.
Avengers: Endgame Watch trailer(s)
Action-adventure/Sci-fi | April 26 | Directed by Anthony Russo and Joe Russo
The Russo brothers have promised a "unique and singular" and tonally different sequel to last year's Avengers: Infinity War, which was merely the highest-grossing film of 2018 and one of the most financially successful movies in history. That film ended with a major shake-up (to put it mildly), and how the franchise will move on is a closely guarded secret—though it will take Endgame a full 182 minutes (yes, that's over three hours) to wrap up the loose threads and close out "Phase 3" of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Nearly every actor is back in some capacity from the previous film, including many of the seemingly dead characters (thanks to time travel, flashbacks, or both), joined by several returning Marvel stars who did not appear in Infinity War. The latter group includes Frank Grillo's Crossbones and Tessa Thompson's Valkyrie, plus Jeremy Renner, whose Clint Barton will be adopting a new superhero identity: Ronin.
Dogman Watch trailer(s)
Foreign/Drama/Thriller | April 12 | Directed by Matteo Garrone
Italian director Matteo Garrone (Tale of Tales) returns to the mob world of his international breakout, the Grand Prix-winning Gomorrah, with this tale of a dog groomer entwined in a dangerous relationship with a violent, former boxer. The cast is led by Marcello Fonte, whose performance earned him an award at Cannes last year. Inspired by a true story, Dogman as a whole also picked up solid reviews at the festival, though critics were divided on the director's stylistic choices. Some reviewers found the film violent but "thrilling" and "beautifully shot," while others found that the film lacked both subtlety and "emotional reality."
Grass Watch trailer(s)
Foreign/Drama | April 19 | Directed by Sang-soo Hong
Merely the sixth film from prolific Korean director Hong Sang-soo in the past three years alone (and the second to arrive in American theaters in 2019, following Hotel by the River), Grass looks at the comings and goings of patrons of a cafe in Seoul through the eyes of one of its customers, a writer played by frequent Hong collaborator Kim Min-hee. The relatively short film originally debuted at the 2018 Berlinale, where critics gave it generally good reviews, praising the film's humor and playfulness even while warning that, as IndieWire's David Ehrlich put it, "It will be impenetrable for those who are new to [Hong's] work."
Hail Satan? Watch trailer(s)
Documentary | April 19 | Directed by Penny Lane
The latest acclaimed documentary from Penny Lane (Nuts!, Our Nixon) examines the five-year rise of the Satanic Temple activist group. The film certainly has fun with the subject matter, as will viewers, according to critics, who enjoyed the film at its Sundance premiere early this year. But Lane—like the subjects of her documentary, who aren't actually devil worshippers—also highlights very serious issues relating to religious liberty and political hypocrisy in present-day America.
Hellboy Watch trailer(s)
Action/Sci-fi/Fantasy/Horror | April 12 | Directed by Neil Marshall
After two successful feature films directed by Guillermo del Toro (2004's Hellboy and its 2008 sequel The Golden Army), Mike Mignola's comic book superhero returns to the big screen in a few weeks. But this Hellboy (despite initial plans) will not be another sequel; instead, it's a reboot made without the involvement of del Toro—a definite danger sign—though Mignola is promoting the new film as being more faithful to his original comics. The Descent director Neil Marshall takes over behind the camera, while Stranger Things star David Harbour takes over the role formerly held by Ron Perlman. Ian McShane, Milla Jovovich, Sasha Lane, Daniel Dae Kim, and Thomas Haden Church round out the cast.
Her Smell Watch trailer(s)
Drama/Music | April 12 | Directed by Alex Ross Perry
Pretty much any Alex Ross Perry film can be described as provoking a "divisive" response from critics and moviegoers. But his latest film may take divisiveness to an entirely new level. Her Smell, which first debuted at TIFF last fall, is the third collaboration between the director and actress Elisabeth Moss, following Listen Up Philip and Queen of Earth. Here, she plays perhaps (actually, make that definitely) her most unpleasant character yet: Becky Something, the lead singer of a punk band that was big in the 1990s and is now less so—in no small part due to Becky's extremely self-destructive behavior. While her character may be toxic, Moss delivers yet another stunning performance, according to critics—even those who couldn't tolerate the film as a whole. Some reviewers, however, had a great deal of praise for the film, calling it an authentic and realistic portrayal told with "kinetic" style.
High Life Watch trailer(s)
Sci-fi/Horror/Drama | April 5 | Directed by Claire Denis
Noted French director Claire Denis has dabbled in genre before (such as with the divisive 2001 horror title Trouble Every Day), but High Life is her first science fiction film—and her first English-language feature. As an example of the former, it's also rather unusual: Rarely are sci-fi films this meditative, amorphous, sorrowful, and sexually graphic. (As you may have heard, there's a portion of the spaceship named "The Fuckbox.") The recipient of very good reviews at TIFF last fall, High Life stars Robert Pattinson, Juliette Binoche, Mia Goth, and André Benjamin (aka Andre 3000) as death-row convicts enlisted for a mission into deep space—allegedly to investigate using a black hole as an energy source, but in fact a mission to conduct sexual and other horrific experiments on the passengers, who quickly discover that they are also on a one-way voyage. Don't expect a clear, linear narrative, but do expect a "visceral" and "difficult" experience that ranks among the filmmaker's best work—and another new Tindersticks soundtrack to look forward to.
Little Woods Watch trailer(s)
Drama/Thriller | April 19 | Directed by Nia DaCosta
Set in fracking country in North Dakota, Nia DaCosta's debut film is a modern-day, female-led western centering on two estranged sisters who reunite when their mother dies. One (Lily James) is dealing with an unexpected pregnancy, and the other (Tessa Thompson) is on the verge of leaving their small town and going legit after paying the bills by running prescription drugs over the Canadian border. But with the mortgage on their mother's house due, she faces a choice between family and escape. Little Woods received good reviews at its Tribeca debut a year ago—with critics especially praising both leads—and it finally heads to theaters this month.
The Man Who Killed Don Quixote Watch trailer(s)
Adventure/Sci-fi/Comedy | April 10 | Directed by Terry Gilliam
After nearly 30 years, Terry Gilliam's famously uncompleted epic—so notorious that it long ago received its own (non-)making-of documentary—is coming to theaters ... sort of. Screening as a one-night-only event on April 10 (and headed to VOD and DVD shortly thereafter), the Spain-set film centers on the adventures of an advertising executive (Adam Driver, in a role once intended for Johnny Depp, Robin Williams, and Ewan McGregor at various points in time) and a shoemaker who long ago starred in the adman's student film but is now convinced that he actually is the storied Don Quixote (Jonathan Pryce, playing a part once held by John Hurt, Robert Duvall, and several different members of Monty Python). We'd love to say that it's a triumph, but the critical consensus (after a Cannes screening last May) is, at best, mixed. (Really, the film is a bit of a mess—though that may be intentional.) Still, it's not often that moviegoers get an opportunity to see a passion project from a visionary filmmaker.
Missing Link Watch trailer(s)
Animation/Family | April 12 | Directed by Chris Butler
The latest release from the stop-motion animators at Laika (Kubo and the Two Strings, The Boxtrolls, Coraline) tells the story of Mr. Link, a well-spoken, fur-covered creature (voiced by Zach Galifianakis) who stands 8 feet tall and weighs 630 lbs. Hoping to find his family, Mr. Link enlists the famous, fearless explorer Sir Lionel Frost (Hugh Jackman) and adventurer Adelina Fortnight (Zoe Saldana) in a journey that takes them to the far reaches of the world.
Okko's Inn Watch trailer(s)
Foreign/Animation/Family | April 22 | Directed by Kitarô Kôsaka
GKIDS' latest Japanese anime import comes from Studio Ghibli veteran Kitaro Kosaka, who now works at another famed animation studio, Madhouse. Okko's Inn is based on a series of Japanese children's novels (previously adapted into a TV series) and centers on an orphaned girl who moves into her grandmother's rural inn, which she quickly discovers is inhabited by friendly ghosts who help her learn how to become a welcoming host. Lauded in Japan, the film will screen over two days (April 22–23) at select theaters in North America in both the original (subtitled) format as well as in a new English-language dub.
Pet Sematary Watch trailer(s)
Horror | April 5 | Directed by Dennis Widmyer and Kevin Kolsch
Mary Lambert's 1989 adaptation of Stephen King's Pet Sematary—perhaps the writer's scariest novel—has a few fans, but not many of them are film critics: The film received mostly poor reviews upon its original release (despite a screenplay by King himself). So it's no surprise that the material is getting a do-over, but it is slightly shocking that the remake is so decent. In fact, based on reviews out of its SXSW premiere a few weeks ago, we'd even say it's good—thanks in no small part to a slick production and an excellent cast. The new film comes from the directing team of Dennis Widmyer and Kevin Kolsch (Starry Eyes) and stars Jason Clarke as Louis Creed, a doctor who moves his wife Rachel (Amy Seimetz) and their two young children from Boston to rural Maine. In the woods near the family home, Louis discovers a mysterious burial ground, and when tragedy leads to horror, he turns to his neighbor, Jud Crandall (John Lithgow), for an explanation. Some changes were made to King's story, so even longtime fans won't know exactly how this turns out.
Peterloo Watch trailer(s)
Drama | April 5 | Directed by Mike Leigh
Mike Leigh’s long-awaited follow-up to 2014’s Mr. Turner dramatizes the Peterloo Massacre of 1819. The bloody incident occurred in St. Peter’s Field in Manchester England when local magistrates set sabre-armed cavalry on a crowd of 80,000 people who were gathered to demand parliamentary reform. The film was originally set to debut last fall, but Amazon bumped the release to spring when it became clear that it wasn't going to be an awards-season contender. Yes, that green score you see above (based on reviews out of a few festivals last fall) is actually low for a Leigh film. But while it may not exhibit the director's usual brilliance, Peterloo did impress some reviewers enough to merit a recommendation.
Shazam! Watch trailer(s)
Action/Sci-fi | April 5 | Directed by David F. Sandberg
April's first major release would seem to have several factors working against it. One is that it's a movie titled Shaza[a]m, while by now most of us know that no such thing exists. Secondly, it's a film in the DC Extended Universe, and unless those are titled Wonder Woman, they aren't all that good. But who doesn't like a surprise. And early reviews for Shazam! suggest that it is a pleasant surprise, indeed. The lighthearted film follows Billy Batson (Asher Angel) as he’s granted superpowers by an ancient wizard (Djimon Hounsou) and with one word—Shazam!—can turn himself into an adult superhero (a perfectly cast Zachary Levi). Aided by his friend Freddy Freeman (Jack Dylan Grazer), Billy must learn about his powers and face off against Dr. Thaddeus Sivana (Mark Strong).
Wild Nights With Emily Watch trailer(s)
Comedy/Drama | April 12 | Directed by Madeleine Olnek
Molly Shannon plays poet Emily Dickinson in a comedy that debunks the popular vision of Dickinson as a reclusive spinster. Written and directed by Madeleine Olnek (The Foxy Merkins, Codependent Lesbian Space Alien Seeks Same), the film may take a few liberties with actual history (and literally borrows its wild tone from TV's Drunk History) as it traces a surprisingly lively Dickinson's writing career and her long affair with her brother's wife (Susan Ziegler). But Wild Nights certainly had a lot of fans when it debuted at SXSW back in 2018, with critics especially enjoying the performances of the entire cast (which also includes Amy Seimetz and Brett Gelman).
Bonus pick: Streaming on Netflix
Rom-com | April 19 | Directed by Jennifer Kaytin Robinson
Jane the Virgin's Gina Rodriguez heads the cast of this Netflix rom-com as a recently jilted woman who attempts to get over her ex (Lakeith Stanfield) and prepare for a cross-country move by going on a final adventure in New York with her two best friends (DeWanda Wise, Brittany Snow). Rodriguez and Paul Feig are producers for the feature film debut for writer-director Jennifer Kaytin Robinson, best known as the creator of MTV's Sweet/Vicious. It's not the only new Netflix rom-com next month; The Perfect Date, starring Noah Centineo and Laura Marano, streams on April 12.
What do you think?
Which films are you looking forward to this month? Let us know in the comments section below. For a complete, updated listing of all upcoming film releases by date, including films arriving later in 2019, visit our Movie Calendar.