When you think of independent cinema, the first name you think of is undoubtedly Jean-Claude Van Damme. Thank goodness the Indie Spotlight is here to tell you where you can see Mr. V.D. at an arthouse new you! Along with JCVD, this week's new indie releases are The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, Pray the Devil Back to Hell, House, Repo! The Genetic Opera, The Guitar, Otto; or, Up with Dead People, and Gardens of the Night.

Here's the rundown on each of them.

JCVD
What it is: Jean-Claude Van Damme plays himself, a washed-up B-movie actor, getting caught in a real-life hostage situation.
What they're saying: Cinematical's James Rocchi, who reviewed it at Toronto, called it a "smart, nicely pitched action-comedy." Eight of the 10 reviews at Rotten Tomatoes are positive, too. (I've seen it, and I concur: it's an entertaining meta-comedy with surprisingly poignant drama.)
Where it's playing: New York City (Angelika Film Center, AMC Empire 25).
More info: The official site has the release dates for other cities, including quite a few next week.

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas
What it is: A World War II drama about two little boys who become friends from opposite sides of the fence. Those "striped pajamas"? They're what concentration camp prisoners wear.
What they're saying: It has a 71% Fresh rating at Rotten Tomatoes, with most critics calling it touching and haunting.
Where it's playing: New York City (CC Cinemas), Los Angeles (The Landmark), Chicago (AMC River East), Dallas (Angelika), Seattle (Landmark Harvard), Denver (Landmark Chez Artiste), San Francisco (Century S.F. Centre), Atlanta (UA Tara), Philadelphia (Ritz 5).
More info: Official site.

Pray the Devil Back to Hell
What it is: It's an awesome title for a movie, that's what! It's also a documentary about the Liberian women who brought peace to their country in 2003 after years of warlords and despots.
What they're saying: It won the documentary award at Tribeca this year. At Rotten Tomatoes, nearly all the critics praise it as a stirring, noble account of a powerful story.
Where it's playing: New York City (Cinema Village).
More info: The official site lists release dates for other cities, too.

Repo! The Genetic Opera
What it is: A horror musical comedy about a company that offers organ transplants for sale -- but heaven help you if you can't make the payments and your guts need to be repossessed.
What they're saying: There aren't many mainstream-media reviews out yet, but anticipation has been high, and a lot of the horror sites like it. (See a list of reviews here.) It's directed by Saw's Darren Lynn Bousman, adapted by Darren Smith and Terrance Zdunich from their stage play, and stars Anthony Stewart Head (Buffy's Giles), Paul Sorvino, Sarah Brightman, and, um, Paris Hilton.
Where it's playing: New York City (Angelika Film Center), Los Angeles (Laemmle Sunset 5, Laemmle Sunset 7), San Francisco (Lumiere), Berkeley (Elmwood), Las Vegas (Palms Casino), Austin (Alamo Drafthouse South Lamar), Minneapolis (Landmark Lagoon).
More info: The official site lists release dates for additional cities. It's also coming to DVD in January.

House
What it is: A thriller about two couples stranded in a house in rural Alabama, where they're pursued by a killer. It is apparently -- no joke -- a Christian allegory.
What they're saying: Rotten Tomatoes is thus far unware of the film's existence. The reviews I can find are mostly lukewarm at best.
Where it's playing: About 350 screens all over the country. The film's website has a complete list of locations.
More info: The site.

The Guitar
What it is: Saffron Burrows plays a woman who is diagnosed with terminal cancer, fired from her job, and dumped by her boyfriend, leading her to throw caution to the wind and pursue her dreams before she dies.
What they're saying: The film was directed by Amy Redford, daughter of Robert; magically, it also somehow debuted at the Sundance Film Festival this year! The reviews are almost split: four in favor, six against.
Where it's playing: New York City (Landmark Sunshine).
More info: The official site.

Otto; or, Up with Dead People
What it is: Do you like graphic gay porn? Do you also like zombie movies? Do you like them together? OK! Those of you who answered yes to those three questions, all ten of you, proceed to this movie at once!
What they're saying: The reviews at Rotten Tomatoes are evenly split between good and bad. A couple of the positives say the film is actually sweet and touching. The detractors say it's little more than porn shot with Bruce LaBruce's typically shoddy techniques.
Where it's playing: New York City (IFC Center).
More info: The official site.

Gardens of the Night
What it is: A drama about two street kids, with Tom Arnold as a pedophile.
What they're saying: Five of seven reviews at Rotten Tomatoes so far are positive. They say it's haunting and unsettling but well made.
Where it's playing: New York City (Village East). Opens in L.A. on Dec. 5.
More info: The official site.