Ben Mezrich's book Bringing Down The House chronicles the efforts of a team of MIT students who developed an elaborate card-counting system and conspired to take Vegas casinos for millions. It's no doubt an amazing tale of ingenuity and guile, but there's no way it happened like it does in the ludicrous adaptation 21 (Sony); either that, or the city's famed security systems need some serious retooling. With their Halloween-ready disguises and conspicuous hand signals, these students wouldn't fool anyone in a real casino…

How do you mix supernatural horror with an earnest environmental message? The answer is, you don't, but that hasn't stopped director Larry Fessenden from trying. A low-key shocker about global warming, The Last Winter (IFC) pits an Alaskan oil scout (Ron Perlman) against an environmental scientist (James LeGros) when the former's experiments in a remote tundra outpost give rise to a monster in the form of a vengeful Earth spirit. It's the thinking person's chiller, theoretically…

A savvy, suspenseful cross between Michael Clayton and the Joseph Conrad book Heart Of Darkness, the superior French thriller Heartbeat Detector (New Yorker) stars Mathieu Amalric as a "human resources psychologist," a corporate position in which he studies deficient workers to figure out why they aren't productive. His latest case tests his reputation as a master motivator, but it also opens his eyes to the company's dealings with some very bad people and throws his loyalties in question…

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Americanized J-horror is the deadest subgenre this side of the lambada movies, yet the films keep on coming, as steady and relentless as an army of pallid-faced, hitch-stepped ghouls. Though Shutter (Fox) is based on the Thai film, the usual J-horror tropes are unmistakably present, centering on another vengeful ghost in the form of a spurned Japanese waif who appears in photographs and gets her ethereal message across in the most indirect, passive-aggressive way imaginable…

Omnibus horror films are usually a mixed bag, but Trapped Ashes (Lionsgate) doesn't even manage that, in spite of a pedigreed list of directors that includes Ken Russell, Joe Dante, and Monte Hellman. Dante handles the thankless task of directing the wraparound story fairly well, but Russell's puerile contribution, about a would-be Hollywood starlet with killer breasts (literally), could not be a cruder example of camp horror.