Film: Frankenweenie

As the title would suggest, this is a Frankenstein-riffing horror, in which lonely schoolboy Victor brings his beloved pet Sparky back to life after he’s run over, only for his lightning-infused science experiments to attract all kinds of unwanted attention from his school’s oddballs and eccentrics.

Director Tim Burton mines his love of monster movies for a pastiche that will probably go over the heads of non genre fans and kids, too – Godzilla, Gremlins, The Mummy and Frankenstein are all drawn upon at one stage. It’s the invention with which it is carried off that works, though, as visual gags (an invisible goldfish) mix with winning one liners (“Sometimes adults don’t know what they’re talking about!” Victor’s dad says) in this ‘also available in 3D’ flick.

Burton assembles a voice cast of familiar faces (Winona Ryder, Martin Landau, Catherine O’Hara, Christopher Lee) but manages to make what could have been a by-the-book indulgence trip down memory lane (the black and white palette even works here, underscoring Burton’s kookiness) both contemporary and enjoyable.

Starring: Charlie Tahan, Martin Short | PG | 87mins


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Film: Paranormal Activity 4

This is the 2009 no-budget smash’s third sequel, and the series has managed to maintain the scares in its POV haunted house tales so far, as a poltergeist terrorises people who come to believe all too late in things going bump in the night.

A far better Halloween franchise than the blood-letting Saw series.

Starring: Katie Featherstone, Kathryn Newton | 15 | 87mins
On general release from October 19


Film: Beasts of the Southern Wild

This debut feature from Benh Zeitlin won the Camera D’Or Award at this year’s Cannes, the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance, and has generally been wowing, dazzling and stunning audiences all year round.

Its blend of fantasy, realism, emotional truth and whimsy is unlike anything else this year and marks the arrival of a new talent. Believe the hype and see for yourself.

 On general release from October 19


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Comedy – Nick Helm: This Means War

St Albans’ loudest comedian – an unproven accolade we have bestowed upon Helm that few could argue – brings his third solo show, already a hit at Edinburgh, to London.

Expect a dissection of his love life, gender politics and a confrontational delivery that makes you feel like you’re being attacked: viciously, verbally and hilariously.

Bloomsbury Theatre
15 Gordon Street, WC1H 0AH. Oct 19. £13.50
Tube | Euston Square


Exhibition: Shoot! Existential Photography

Post World War I, the photographic shooting gallery came to prominence, in which the reward for hitting the target was a pic of the shooter mid-trigger.

This attraction, and the crossover between guns and photos, is the focus of this new exhibition, featuring thoughts and photos from Sylvia Ballhouse and Steven Pippin.

Photographer’s Gallery
16-18 Ramillies Street, W1F 7LW.
Until Jan 6. £5 
Tube | Oxford Circus

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Theatre: A Chorus of Disapproval

Making his West End debut, a bearded Rob Brydon is the beating heart of Trevor Nunn’s mildly enjoyable, light-hearted revival of Alan Ayckbourn’s 1984 comedy about an am-dram production of The Beggar’s Opera.

There are moments of pathos and humour but it’s at its funniest when Brydon’s on stage.

Harold Pinter Theatre
Panton Street, SW1Y 4DN.
Until Jan 5. £10+
Tube | Piccadilly Circus 

Theatre: Charley’s Aunt

Brandon Thomas’ neatly crafted 1893 farce stars Matthew Horne (TV’s Gavin And Stacey) as an Oxford student aiming to deceive in the name of love.

Ian Talbot’s sprightly production, boasting designer Paul Farnsworth’s gorgeous sets, never hits the high spots of hilarity but confirms the durability of this late-Victorian romp.

Menier Chocolate Factory
53 Southwark St, SE1 1RU.
Until Nov 10. £31 
Tube | London Bridge


Photos: Catherine Ashmore