MOVIES & BOOZE: Heading to the cinema this weekend?

Esther McCarthy reviews the week's top releases...

Our resident film critic Esther McCarthy reviews the week's top releases...

Life ***

Life relies heavily on stories we've seen before, but in it's execution it works exceptionally well. But despite its familiar storyline, Life is well rendered and delivers on the scare front.

Daniel Espinosa and his on-form cast build up a slow sense of dread in the telling of the story. So good are the filmmaking and performances, it takes a while to realise you’ve been on a familiar journey.

The movie opens with the six-strong crew at the International Space Station coming across a remarkable discovery - the discovery of a tiny, cellular life form.

Found in a soil sample taken from Mars, the microscopic cell is energised when a scientist on board adds glucose, and Calvin is born.

Still, his initial rate of growth causes everyone on board other than his creator to feel uneasy, and sure enough it’s not long before Calvin is making his presence very much felt. Jake Gyllenhaal and Rebecca Ferguson and the best of an on-form cast, and this is a very effective Friday night sci-fi horror.

The Secret Scripture (12A) ***

Roseanne McNulty (Vanessa Redgrave) is a patient in a mental asylum as the hospital is about to be closed.

Asked to decide whether she should be released after all these years, she reveals her secrets as she recalls the events that led to her being incarcerated. This happens partly with the help of her secret scripture - a copy of the bible filled with her own memories.

Told over two timeframes, the films weaves back and forth between their discussions and how the young Rose (Rooney Mara) found herself on the wrong side of the Catholic Church and the state in 1940s Ireland.

Rose is courted by a number of men in the village, including Theo James’s conflicted parish priest, but she is smitten with a young RAF pilot (Jack Reynor).

It's a very problematic piece of filmmaking, not always shifting tonally from past to present, though Eric Bana and Redgrave to a good job of keeping the more contemporary story on track,