Alan Dee’s guide to the new movie releases: The Five Year Engagement, Abraham Lincoln – Vampire Hunter

YOU want to know what a high concept movie is? It’s the sort of film which tells you everything you need to know in the title, and makes you want to see it. Snakes On A Plane was a good example – and so is Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter.

You didn’t know that the 16th president of the USA managed to find time in among the speechifying and the freeing of the slaves to battle vampires? Come on, where have you been?

After Abe’s mum comes to a grisly end at the hands of the dastardly undead, he vows to avenge her. By day he’s a statesman, by night a relentless bearded Buffy. Really.

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Tim Burton has a producer role, the tale is adapted by Seth Grahame-Smith from his own bestseller and calling the shots is action and effects maestro Timur Bekmambetov, who created cult hits Night Watch, Day Watch and Wanted.

Of course it’s silly, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be enjoyable.

> On the other hand, if ever a title made you want to give a film a miss, how about Chernobyl Diaries?

It’s a short, sharp, wobbly camera horror film in which six tourists looking for thrills off the beaten track sign up to visit the of the 1986 nuclear disaster. The locals tell them to stay away but they press on to explore an abandoned town, and then night falls.

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You can guess the rest, and the 15 certificate shows that however much Paranormal Activity writer/director Oren Peli may want to make you undermine your undergarments there’s not really too much to cause shivers down the spine.

> Talking about titles, you don’t need a degree in film studies to work out that The Five Year Engagement is a rom com – and there’s Jason Segel at the head of the cast list to prove it.

Jason and love of his life Emily Blunt have such busy lives that their plans for a wedding just keep getting put back. Yes, Judd Apatow has his fingers in this particular pie, and there are smiles but no surprises.

> Stephen Frears can usually be relied on to provide a palatable portion of grown-up cinema, from his earliest hits like My Beautiful Laundrette through to more modern milestones like The Queen.

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His most recent release was the decidedly lukewarm Tamara Drewe, but Lay The Favourite is a world away from that ‘Archers with attitude’ effort that failed to set the box office alight.

His top notch cast in this comedy drama is headed by Bruce Willis, a professional gambler who hitches up with a small town stripper following her Las Vegas dream.

Luckily she’s got a great head for figures which helps Bruce get in the money, even if his trophy wife Catherine Zeta-Jones doesn’t think much of the pairing.

Rising Brit star Rebecca Hall, previously seen in smaller roles in The Town, The Prestige and Vicky Cristina Barcelona, shows off her screwball comedy side opposite smart-mouthed Bruce, and they make an appealing pair.

See it if you liked: The Cooler (2003), The Whole Ten Yards (2004), 21 (2008)

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