JESSE Eisenberg’s films are flavour of the month after the young actor’s Oscar-nominated performance in The Social Network.
He appeared in two other movies last year and both are scheduled for DVD release before the end of 2011.
But here’s an early warning about horror flick CAMP HELL (15: Metrodome), which is due out on Boxing Day and definitely falls into the Christmas turkey category. During its short cinema run in the States it was called Camp Hope, but this dud about students from a Christian group encountering evil deep in the woods needs more than a name change to make UK punters want to rent or buy it.
Meanwhile, coming-of-age drama HOLY ROLLERS (15: Crabtree Films) offers a slightly more rewarding experience for viewers.
A young Hasidic Jew, Sam Gold (Eisenberg), is unhappy in the family fabric business and being pushed into an arranged marriage and studying to be a rabbi..
He’s lured into the idea of making money by transporting “medicine for rich people” from Europe into America.
Yosef (Justin Bartha) assures him it will work, as it has for him, and encourages Sam to enlist others.
Despite good performances by Eisenberg and Bartha, it’s not terribly dramatic.
The movie doesn’t pull its punches as the inevitable happens, but the moral of the tale – being an ecstasy mule can pay at first, but not forever – is a bland one.
At least Ari Graynor lends heart to the underused part of drug dealer’s moll and Mark Ivanir infuses the small role of Sam’s father with multilayered emotions.
> Awkward and misfiring comedy BAD TEACHER (15: Sony) stars Cameron Diaz as Elizabeth, a hard-drinking schoolteacher who says exactly what’s on her mind.
When she’s dumped by her wealthy fiance, she’s desperate to find ways of earning cash to pay for breast enhancement surgery. Elizabeth hears of a teaching contest with a big-money prize and vows to turn over a new leaf and become an inspiration to her pupils.
She believes her new-found conscientiousness and reupholstered cleavage will win the heart of a handsome supply teacher (Justin Timberlake).
But she has to compete for his affections with an energetic colleague (Lucy Punch) while spurning the advances of the gym teacher (Jason Segel).
A mishmash of high-school movie cliches and toilet humour is cobbled together, with the flimsy plot and faltering pace providing far too few laughs.
Although Diaz does comedy reasonably well, her foul-mouthed outbursts soon become tiresome.
Timberlake walks a strange line between hunk and geek and fails to make much of an impression.
> Ayrton Senna established himself as one of Formula One’s most brilliant, daring and controversial drivers before his death in a crash at the San Marino Grand Prix in 1994.
SENNA (12: Universal), the fascinating documentary about the three-times world champion, will appeal to more than just fans of fast cars.
The volatile Brazilian was a hero in his homeland and his ruthlessness behind the wheel, not to mention his spiky challenges to the politics of the racing world, grabbed headlines beyond the chequered flag.
This powerful and engrossing film, assembled from thrilling archive footage with new voiceovers from several leading F1 figures, paints a portrait of a determined and deeply spiritual man.
His notorious clashes both on and off the track with arch rival Alain Prost give the chronological telling of the tale added bite.
> BLOOD CREEK (18: Entertainment In Video) sounds like the title of a low-budget ‘70s TV horror flick, but it’s actually a new film from leading director Joel Schmacher, best known for Brat Pack classics St Elmo’s Fire and The Lost Boys.
It’s been dumped straight on to DVD, but in these days of Saw sequels and Halloween remakes, any original horror movie should be greeted with some respect – and Blood Creek deserves some.
In 1936, the Wollners, a German family living in rural Town Creek, Maryland, are asked by the Third Reich to host a visiting scholar, Professor Ricard Wirth (Michael Fassbender).
Wirth’s occult project cuts the Wollners off from the outside world and makes them players in an horrific game of survival.
Fast forward to 2007, and Evan Marshall (Henry Cavill) is left without answers after his brother Victor’s disappearance from a camping trip near Town Creek. When Victor returns after escaping his captors, Evan loads their rifles and follows him back to Town Creek on a revenge mission.