It's Halloween season at the multi-plex; which means that if today's brand of torture-centric "thrills" is not your cup of tea, cinema offers few reasons not to stay in your house and barricade the doors.


AMELIA
The Story: Hilary Swank stars as the legendary lost lady aviator.
The Pitch: The Aviator meets Erin Brockovich
Who It's For: Old people.
Cause for Hope: Ewan McGregor plays Gore Vidal's father.
Cause for Concern: Another roll-out The Billy Elliot formula: substitute "For piss sakes, let the boy dance" with "For piss sake, let the (insert oppressed group) (insert unlikely vocation.)
Defamer Enthusio-Meter: 3


SAW 6
The Story: That wacky prankster Jigsaw is back at it again with his rollicking game of Horrible Mutilation or Death. Good times ensue for all.
The Pitch: Blood Feast meets sticking your head into an electrical outlet.
Who It's For: People whose souls have been so whittled down to nothing by media over-stimulation that punching themselves in the face is the only thing that can prove to them they are actually alive.
Cause for Hope: Saw 6 must be closer to the end than Saw 5 was.
Cause for Concern: The society that made the Saw films controls a nuclear arsenal large enough to destroy the world thousands of times over.
Defamer Enthusio-Meter: Negative infinity.

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ANTICHRIST
The Story: You've read about the well-hyped controversy, now see the movie. When a couple (Willem Dafoe and Charlotte Gainsbourg)'s baby falls out the window, they retreat to the woods to launch into a frenzy of self-abuse and recrimination.
The Pitch: Salo meets Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
Who It's For: Anyone who either wants to feel superior to rubes who can't appreciate art or who wants to feel superior to sheep-like intelligensia who have convinced themselves that this is art.
Cause for Hope: Despite his public clownishness, Lars von Trier can still pack a visual punch.
Cause for Concern: After all the ruckus, is there still any point in seeing the actual film? And critics widely warn that when Gainsbourg breaks out the self-mutilation kit is the point where any sane person should call it a day.
Defamer Enthusio-Meter: 6


CIRQUE DU FREAK: THE VAMPIRE'S ASSISTANT
The Story: A young man joins a traveling freak show as an assistant to the show's most mysterious member (John C. Reilly) and gets caught in the middle of an underworld battle.
The Pitch: Buffy meets Agent Cody Banks
Who It's For: The whole family, if looking for a movie this weekend that doesn't feature extreme mutilation.
Cause for Hope: Anything about vampires earns a "C" just for signing its name; directed by the half of the consistently better-than-average Weitz Brothers.
Cause for Concern: Looks too light and fluffy to be trusted not to float away from the screen.
Defamer Enthusio-Meter: 4


ASTRO BOY
The Story: An inventor creates a robot boy to replace a lost child, but then rejects his creation. The child robot goes out to fight the demons of his future world to prove his worth.
The Pitch: AI meets Underdog
Who It's For: Childrens and anime fetishists.
Cause for Hope: The animation looks not uncool.
Cause for Concern: As the years pass, it gets harder to see the world through the eyes of a seven-year-old Japanese boy.
Defamer Enthusio-Meter: 4


MOTHERHOOD
The Story: A blogger (Uma Thurmond) struggles to maintain her creative identity beneath the detail travails of raising children in New York City.
The Pitch: Knocked Up meets Julie and Julia
Who It's For: Ladies who want to know that someone understands.
Cause for Hope: Inspired the single most annoying sentence in the history of film criticism from AO Scott: "Watching "Motherhood," in which Uma Thurman plays a Manhattan mom juggling kids, dog, marriage and blogging duties, I could not help but recall some of the many distinguished literary explorations of similar predicaments: "A Room of One's Own," by Virginia Woolf; Charlotte Perkins Gilman's "Yellow Wallpaper"; the poems of Sylvia Plath and Adrienne Rich; and especially the short stories of Grace Paley, set in the same West Village streets through which Ms. Thurman's character, Eliza Welch, steers her Volvo and schleps her stroller."
Cause for Concern: Uma clearly is not willing to fully commit to dowdiness judging from the trailer.
Defamer Enthusio-Meter: 3