HDTV Movie Premieres: October 16-22

The Happening: TV3, 8.30pm Saturday.

Everything but the script is happening in another eerie-fairy tale from writer/director M Night Shyamalan (The Sixth Sense, Signs). It stars Mark Wahlberg and Zooey Deschanel as a couple in the wilderness trying to survive a mysterious airborne plague that sparks mass suicides across the East Coast of the United States. After a masterfully suspenseful and unsettling build-up, The Happening comes unstuck with an ending that tries to be both apocalyptic and happy. (2008)

Finding Neverland: Sky Movies Greats, 8.30pm Saturday.

Johnny Depp plays JM Barrie in this moving if fanciful dramatisation of how the Scottish author’s relationship with four fatherless boys inspired Peter Pan. Kate Winslet, Julie Christie and Dustin Hoffman co-star in a superb mix of reality and fantasy that was nominated for seven Oscars, including best picture, actor and adapted screenplay. Marc Forster (Stranger Than Fiction, The Kite Runner, Quantum of Solace) directs. (2004)

2012: Sky Movies, 8.30pm Sunday.

Doomsday director Roland Emmerich (The Day After Tomorrow, Independence Day) again proves why he is the undisputed master of disaster movies, with this dynamite spectacular about the end of the world that was inspired by Noah’s ark. The plot may be merely an exercise for eye-popping special effects but rarely has rollercoaster escapism been so exhilarating (and still able to retain philosophical merit). John Cusack, Chiewetel Ejiofor and Amanda Peet star. (2009)

The Clearing: Sky Movies Greats, 8.30pm Sunday.

This suspenseful, character-driven drama explores marital and corporate themes within the guise of a low-key but gripping kidnapping thriller. Robert Redford plays a wealthy Pittsburgh businessman who’s abducted from the driveway of the luxury home he shares with his wife of many years (Helen Mirren). The odd-couple relationship that develops between Redford’s epitome of the American Dream and Willem Dafoe’s economic casualty of his success is contrasted with an FBI investigation that uncovers troubling aspects of his marriage. (2004)

28 Weeks Later: TV3, 8.30pm Monday.

This zombie sequel to 28 Days Later is more exciting and thought provoking, with production values that belie its low budget, and enlivens the living dead genre by eschewing clichés to focus as much on humanity as horror. Braindead bloodshed still abounds but the emphasis is on how two youngsters who may be immune to the “Rage” virus that’s swept Britain cope when their father (Robert Carlyle) is infected and turns into a contagious, cannibalistic psychopath, threatening not only their lives but also the rebuilding of society six months after the death of the last plague victim. (2007)

My Life in Ruins: Sky Movies, 8.30pm Wednesday.

My Big Fat Greek Wedding’s Nia Vardalos plays a tourist guide in Greece trying to regain her “kefi”. Richard Dreyfuss co-stars. Quipped Variety in a representative review: “Feels like warmed-over souvlaki.” (2009)

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