I know that, as owner of a site called Horror Drive-In, I am supposed to be mining for gold nuggets in the world of independent and foreign horror. I'm should be championing the latest transgressive film from Spain or from some guy editing a subversive horror movie in Peoria.

I did that stuff for years and I got tired of it. Oh, I still like horror movies, but these days I prefer to watch films that portray people in real-life situations. Our everyday lives are filled with horror and imagination. Love and hate. Fear and joy. Wonder and despair.

Last night I watched a good one called Welcome to the Rileys. It stars James Gandolfini, playing against type, as a man whose longtime wife suffers from agoraphobia. Their teenage daughter had died in a car wreck, and wearying of existing with her in a kind of living death, he befriends a teen stripper/prostitute while away at a convention. A gentle man, he attempts to help her. Meanwhile his wife must overcome her affliction and find him in order to save their marriage.

I sometimes get down on my knees and thank the Movie Gods for greenlighting smart, performance-driven films like Welcome to the Rileys. There isn't a lot of commercial potential in such a project, and it made almost nothing in theaters. Box Office Mojo reports Welcome to the Rileys as having earned $158,898.

The fact is, most people do not WANT to see grim, dark stories about people in uncomfortable situations. They want explosions and wisecracks, pirates and cartoons, CGI and 3D.

Kristin Sewart plays the young prostitute and she is marvelous. I also thought she was very good in Adventureland and The Runaways. Sadly, it seems as though the fickle teenage Twilight fans do not wish to see her in other types of roles. I look forward to seeing her in next year's adaptation of On The Road.

I was mostly unfamiliar with Melissa Leo, who plays the wife, but she is marvelous in Welcome to the Rileys, too. Her performance is flawless and it must have been a difficult one to realistically portray.

Also predictably, the dunderheaded critics mostly panned Welcome to the Rileys. "Slow", "Weak", "Facile", "Ponderous", they claim. Well, some of them. It got a 54% rating at Rotten Tomatoes. Ebert gave it three stars and I can't argue with that. I've seen better movies, but Welcome to the Rileys stands well above most of what is being produced these days.

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