‘Challengers’ Shows You a New, Nastier Side of Zendaya

MGM /Courtesy Everett Collection
MGM /Courtesy Everett Collection

There are roughly 47,000—oh, wait, a new Netflix Original just dropped; make that 47,001—TV shows and movies coming out each week. At Obsessed, we consider it our social duty to help you see the best and skip the rest.

We’ve already got a variety of in-depth, exclusive coverage on all of your streaming favorites and new releases, but sometimes what you’re looking for is a simple Do or Don’t. That’s why we created See/Skip, to tell you exactly what our writers think you should See and what you can Skip from the past week’s crowded entertainment landscape.

Mike Faist, Zendaya and Josh O'Connor in 'Challengers'
©MGM/Courtesy Everett Collectio

See: Challengers

Challengers is sexy, sweaty, and dangerous, aka the most fun you’ll have in a theater all season. The psychosexual tennis drama boasts three scintillating star performances, but it’s the career-best turn by Zendaya as a ruthless schemer that’ll have everyone talking.

Here’s Coleman Spilde’s take:

“The orgasmic groaning and grunting are part of tennis’ appeal. They reflect the intensity of the sport: how hard players have to hit the ball; how fast they have to dash from one end of the court to the other; how carefully they have to avoid slipping on their own sweat, dripping off their body and onto the ground in the punishing heat of the sun. Just making contact between the ball and racket is enough primal satisfaction to rival any roll in the hay. A loud, irrepressible moan serves the same purpose in tennis as it does in sex. The noise is both a gasp of pleasure and a way to catch your breath to ensure the experience lasts as long as it can.

‘Challengers’ Is a Grand Slam of Sex and Sweat

There is plenty of this rapture in Challengers, both on and off the court. Luca Guadagnino’s latest film, in theaters April 26, is a fluid, psychosexual heater paced as fast and as thrilling as any tennis tournament. Drama is spiked across the net and volleyed back and forth between the movie’s three players in a fiery match with everything at stake. In the film, tennis is very much a three-person sport, and every new serve feels like it’s for the match point. Advantage oscillates between a different person with each scene. Heat swells, tensions flare, and skin is slick with perspiration, but fatigue never once sets in—for the characters or the audience.”

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A picture of Alisha Weir in 'Abigail'
Bernard Walsh/Universal Pictures

Skip: Abigail

Abigail should be plenty of B-movie fun, what with a centuries-old vampire disguised as a little girl picking off kidnappers in a haunted mansion and all. But the film’s leaden dialogue and archetypal characters drain all the novelty from the film’s arteries.

Here’s Nick Schager’s take:

“Kids do the darndest things, and in Abigail, that includes sprouting fangs and sucking blood while wearing cute tutus. That plot point would, under normal circumstances, be classified as a spoiler, considering that Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett’s film, which hits theaters April 19, hides its central surprise for its first third. Unfortunately, with the marketing department having totally let the cat out of the proverbial bag in order to get teenagers into multiplex seats, there’s zero mystery to this gruesome horrorshow—which is almost as deleterious as the material’s fondness for exposition over frights, bloat over concision, and clichés over invention.

‘Abigail’ Somehow Squanders a Murderous Vampire Child in a Tutu

As with their prior Scream and Scream VI, Bettinelli-Olpin and Gillett’s latest has modest personality but scant creative terror. Very loosely based on 1936’s Dracula's Daughter (by which I mean, it shares that predecessor’s basic conceit and virtually nothing else), this clumsy bloodbath concerns a seemingly perfect crime that goes horribly wrong. In an unnamed city, adolescent ballerina Abigail (Alisha Weir) travels home from rehearsal in a Rolls Royce to her opulent manor house. Unbeknownst to her, she’s not alone, since a gang of crooks are lurking in her bedroom’s shadows. Led by no-nonsense Frank (Dan Stevens), this gang has been hired by Lambert (Giancarlo Esposito) to kidnap Abigail, transport her to a different lavish residence, and hold her hostage for 24 hours, at the end of which they’ll earn a collective $50 million.”

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Sandra Oh and Hoa Xuande in the Sympathizer
Hopper Stone/HBO

See: The Sympathizer

The Sympathizer is certainly an ambitious drama (often to its detriment), but even knowing that can’t prepare you for the scene where a character graphically discusses masturbating with raw squid. We’ll never look at sushi the same way again.

Here’s Fletcher Peters’ take:

The Sympathizer has touched down in America. Following the end of last week’s premiere episode, Captain (Hoa Xunde) is now Stateside, having barely made it onto the airplane out of Vietnam as Saigon fell.

‘The Sympathizer’: Robert Downey Jr.’s First Post-Oscars Project Is a Mindf*ck

In a tense opening scene, we cut between that moment right before the plane left and Captain’s first days in America. Captain coasts around the panhandle of Texas in a convertible, an easy, breezy life in comparison to the one he had just a few months ago. Did Bon (Fred Nguyen Khan) ever make it on that plane? As Captain roars down the highway, we watch Bon sprinting down the tarmac, trying to make the plane with the corpses of his wife and child in his arms.”

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Daniel Lyon in 'The Spiderwick Chronicles'
The Roku Channel

See: The Spiderwick Chronicles

The Spiderwick Chronicles finds new life 20 years on in a show adapted from the beloved young adult books, which works nicely as both a modern family drama and a fantasy series free of the intense gore and graphic scenes found in its peers. .

Here’s Caroline Siede’s take:

“The past few years have brought harrowing stories of streaming platforms shelving completed projects as tax write-offs. This time, at least, there’s a happy ending for the YA series The Spiderwick Chronicles, which was originally made for Disney+, only to be scrapped as a cost-cutting strategy and sold to Roku instead.

Christian Slater Is an Epic Bloodthirsty Ogre in New ‘Spiderwick Chronicles’

Based on Tony DiTerlizzi and Holly Black’s bestselling fantasy novels about a family who move into their old ancestral home and discover a hidden world of magical creatures, Spiderwick certainly would’ve made sense as a companion to Disney’s Percy Jackson and the Olympians. (Both are based on mid-aughts book series that gained massive popularity in the post-Harry Potter publishing landscape.) On Roku, however, it gets to be an uneven but mostly charming flagship series for the free, ad-supported streamer, which debuts all eight episodes on April 19.”

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