New movies this week: Hail to 'The Woman King,' skip 'See How They Run,' stream 'Do Revenge'

Brian Truitt

Film festival season is well underway, and already it's bearing fruit for audiences.

This weekend features two recent premieres from Toronto Film Festival: Viola Davis headlines a period action epic inspired by an all-female unit of African warriors, and Mia Goth reprises her "X" horror villain for a prequel origin story. In addition, Sam Rockwell and Saoirse Ronan are on the case in a 1950s-set comedic murder mystery and Naomi Watts stars in a remake of an Austrian psychological thriller, while "Stranger Things" star Maya Hawke and "Riverdale" mainstay Camila Mendes team up for a Netflix teen revenge comedy.

Here's a guide to new movies that will satisfy every cinematic taste, plus some noteworthy theatrical films making their streaming and on-demand debuts: 

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If you want to see Viola Davis get her own 'Gladiator': 'The Woman King'

African warrior Nanisca (Viola Davis) rallies the troops in the period action epic "The Woman King."

It's not every action film that clicks in almost every way it needs to, but director Gina Prince-Bythewood's impressive epic does so and more. When the African kingdom of Dahomey is under threat from an empire, King Ghezo (John Boyega) tasks Nanisca (Davis), the general of his feared all-female fighting unit, to recruit new troops for the coming battle. Davis heads a top-notch cast that also includes Lashana Lynch (playing Nanisca's right-hand woman) and Thuso Mbedu (as a rookie warrior).

Where to watch: In theaters

Ranked:All the best movies we saw at Toronto Film Festival (including 'The Woman King' and 'Pearl')

If you're a Sam Rockwell completist: 'See How They Run'

A detective (Sam Rockwell, left) and a rookie cop (Saoirse Ronan) investigate a murder in the mystery comedy "See How They Run."

The 1950s-set whodunit starts off well. when a world-weary London detective (Rockwell) is saddled with a punny rookie cop (Ronan) to investigate the goings-on after a visiting movie director (Adrien Brody) is found dead at a popular stage play. But the mystery loses its way as suspects pile up and the plot grows more convoluted, though the film does add in an intriguing real-life Agatha Christie angle.

Where to watch: In theaters

If you long for killer women in horror: 'Pearl'

Mia Goth plays a young woman whose isolated farm life unleashes her murderous tendencies in the "X" horror prequel "Pearl."

The genre isn't big on infamous female villains, which is why Goth's Pearl is so refreshing. Set in 1918 Texas during the flu pandemic, the "X" antagonist is introduced as a farm girl wishing to be famous so she can escape having to care for her invalid father and super-strict German mom. There's a wicked nod to "The Wizard of Oz" as Pearl eyes a dance audition and murderous intentions bubble up to her seemingly innocent surface.

Where to watch: In theaters

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If you're all about the Naomi Watts remake machine: 'Goodnight Mommy'

Naomi Watts stars as a mom fresh out of surgery who earns side-eye from her twin sons (Nicholas and Cameron Crovetti) in the horror remake "Goodnight Mommy."

Watts has starred in many redos – "The Ring," "Funny Games," "King Kong" – and the latest is the American take on a modern horror classic. Her face is wrapped in bandages while she recovers from surgery when her twin boys (Cameron and Nicholas Crovetti) visit. She acts unusual around them and they become convinced she's someone else in a decently potent version not nearly as chill-inducing or disturbing as the original.

Where to watch: Amazon Prime Video

If you miss the days of 'Cruel Intentions': 'Do Revenge'

Camila Mendes (left) and Maya Hawke – who co-star with Fay The Lizard (as "Oscar Winner Olivia Colman") – play teenagers who pair up to go after each other's tormenters in the dark comedy "Do Revenge."

Drea (Mendes) used to be popular at her school but took a social tumble, Eleanor (Hawke) is her new classmate, and both have their foes. A chance encounter leads to the two girls teaming up to take on each other's tormenters, with no lack of twistiness and betrayal. "Do Revenge" is a snappy, clever throwback to 1990s teen thrillers, and features a cameo that fans of those flicks will appreciate.

Where to watch: Netflix

If you're all about stranger-than-fiction tales: 'The Silent Twins'

Letitia Wright (left) and Tamara Lawrance star as twin sisters who only communicated with each other and crafted a fantasy world to escape the reality of their own lives in "The Silent Twins."

Letitia Wright ("Black Panther") stars alongside Tamara Lawrance in the true-life drama as Welsh sisters who as youngsters refused to communicate with anyone other than themselves. They create a fantasy world for themselves as an escape. which director Agnieszka Smoczynska depicts as a bizarrely colorful landscape compared to a dull reality, yet their self-isolation leads them to being committed to a psychiatric hospital.

Where to watch: In theaters

If you're a David Bowie superfan: 'Moonage Daydream'

Director Brett Morgen's "Moonage Daydream" documentary chronicles the art and influence of rock icon David Bowie using trippy imagery, personal archive footage and unseen performances, anchored by Bowie’s own music and words.

Director Brett Morgen uses the rock icon's interviews, live footage and other archive material to assemble a trippy ride through the rock icon's greatest hits and cultural influence. if you're looking for a conventional documentary, this is far from it: The film is less a peek into the man and more an artistic examination, letting Bowie himself give a glimpse at his creative and spiritual sides and immersing audiences in his musical evolutions.

Where to watch: In theaters

If you like Broadway versions of movies: 'Heathers: The Musical'

"Heathers: The Musical" is a filmed version of the Broadway adaptation of the 1988 cult black comedy.

In case you missed it, the 1988 Winona Ryder dark comedy was turned into a stage show and this is a recorded version of a production in London's West End. It's definitely a different experience from the film, putting a candy-colored and poppy twist on the high school satire – Veronica gets involved with the bullying clique of Heathers, meets rebellious J.D., murders ensue – yet satisfying enough for musical theater fans.

Where to watch: The Roku Channel

Idris Elba stars as a dad trying to survive a deadly lion in the South African savanna in the thriller "Beast."

Also on streaming

  • The survival thriller "Beast," starring Idris Elba as a dad trying to keep his daughters safe from a rogue lion, is available on Apple TV, Vudu and Google Play.
  • And for those down with an Elba double feature, he also plays a magical Djinn opposite Tilda Swinton's lonely academic in George Miller's romantic fantasy "Three Thousand Years of Longing," now streaming on demand.