Plus 13 More New Releases to Watch This Week on Blu-ray/DVD!
Welcome to this week in home video! Click the title to buy a Blu-ray/DVD from Amazon and help support FSR in the process!
Pick of the Week
What is it? A teenage archer is sent to an abusive detention center where escape is the only option.
Why see it? This indie is a tight and entertaining little thriller that takes a somewhat familiar plot – wrongfully convicted person on the run – and twists it just enough to make it feel both fresh and relevant. It doesn’t waste a single frame and yet still take the time to let viewers get to know Lauren. Her skills with a bow and at self-defense are made clear early on, and her interest in girls is equally evident, and she’s an immediately engaging character brought to life with a vitality-filled performance. The first half offers a solid drama about very real camps, and the second shifts into a chase thriller involving a smart teen with mad bow and arrow skills. It teases some more exploitative elements that it never fully embraces, but their presence still adds to the genre fun.
[DVD extras: None?]
What is it? Two men go looking for the father they’ve never known.
Why see it? This one came and went from theaters pretty fast, but I recommend it for even the slightest fans of either Owen Wilson or Ed Helms. Both are playing more palatable versions of their usual selves, and in addition to delivering laughs through their performances the script hands them plenty of jokes and gags along the way. It’s not over-the-top comedy, but it’s funny stuff aided by a strong supporting cast including JK Simmons, Katt Williams, Christopher Walken, and more. More than that, though, the film finds real heart on their journey too. Oh, there’s also a scene where Wilson pees on a little boy.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Deleted scenes, gag reel]
Insidious: The Last Key
What is it? A parapsychologist battles demons from her own past.
Why see it? James Wan’s Insidious remains one of the best horror movies of the past decade, and while the sequels haven’t been quite as good they’ve managed to deliver more than their share of thrills and chills. The fourth film in the franchise continues that trend with a fine mix of stinger-induced jumps and quieter, creepier scares. Just as impressive but even more important, it affords a lead role to the terrific Lin Shaye. It’s well worth a watch for genre fans, and I’m fully aboard for the tease it brings for a fifth film.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Deleted scenes, featurettes]
What is it? A young woman shares some unsavory antics on social media with unexpected results.
Why see it? Addison Timlin should be the initial draw here as she’s only getting better and better as evidenced by 2016’s Little Sister, but I’d be lying if I said the first thirty minutes here aren’t a real challenge. Between the editing style and inclusion of numerous YouTube-like talking heads the opening half hour is relentlessly obnoxious — but that all changes once Larry Fessenden arrives. The film slows down, and he and Timlin build something truly special in their interactions. The film stays strong through to the satisfying and powerful end, so it’s worth suffering through its opening barrage.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Making of]
What is it? A sociopath visits a small town motel.
Why see it? A terrific cast sits at the heart of this dramatic and methodically paced thriller that sees a single act of greed blossom into bloodshed. Jon Bernthal is the main draw, but as good as he is he’s second fiddle screen time-wise to Christopher Abbott’s killer. Rosemarie DeWitt and Imogen Poots round out the characters whose choices, both intentional and otherwise, land them in the path of a murderer. It’s suspenseful at times, but the focus is on the character drama to the point that when violence does occur it’s impactful and effective.
[Blu-ray extras: None]
What is it? A young woman comes of age while discovering some disturbing truths about herself.
Why see it? Joachim Trier’s latest is one of 2017’s best films, and to say more about the story would rob viewers of all that Thelma’s journey entails (and all that Thelma entails) which would be a shame as truly stunning genre-benders are a real rarity. Like all women, she’s stronger than society wants her to realize. Like some women, she’s prepared to prove it. The film takes its time with the story and never feels rushed in its telling, and the skills that writer Eskil Vogt’s displayed previously in Reprise and Oslo, August 31st — most notably an eye for sadness and beauty in equal measure — all come into play even as odd and unnatural elements are added into the mix. It’s ultimately a film that’s both human and more than human, and it’s a stunner.
[DVD extras: None?]
13 Reasons Why [Netflix]
What is it? A highschooler leaves behind audio tapes explaining the 13 reasons why she committed suicide.
Why see it? This Netflix adaptation of the bestselling YA novel found its share of controversy, but that doesn’t detract from its effectiveness as a story about alienation, bullying, and more among modern day teens. Dyaln Minnette offers an affecting center, and while the various beats are ultimately familiar the structure creates a more suspenseful drama than expected.
[DVD extras: Featurettes]
Ballers – The Complete Third Season
What is it? Sports agents continue to sport agent.
Why see it? It’s no coincidence that Ballers comes from the creator of HBO’s Entourage, and that show’s tone is all over this one. It’s flashy, it’s not as funny as it thinks it is, characters are never as broke as they think they are, and it’s overly reliant on celebrity guest stars, but all of that said it’s still a step up from Entourage for one simple reason. Dwayne Johnson is still stupidly charismatic and endlessly entertaining.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: None]
What is it? Four people are trapped in a malfunctioning submersible at the bottom of the ocean.
Why see it? Writer/director Ben Parker creates a familiar but still engaging scenario here, but as the brief running time ticks by increases in pressure are met with equal decreases. The film begins to battle itself as viewers are pulled closer and pushed away in repeated succession. For every dire plot turn a character commits a cliched act that leads to another dire plot turn, and so on and so on. The end result is a thriller that never quite takes as firm a hold as it should.
[DVD extras: None?]
Honey: Rise Up and Dance
What is it? A girl not named Honey rises up and dances.
Why see it? Direct to video dance movie sequels have become a near sub-genre of their own, and they’re without fail near carbon copies of each other. Young person is told they aren’t a good enough dancer, young person finds sexy partner to help them get better, young person proves they’re a good enough dancer. Fans of story and character can skip this one, but dance fans — the intended audience — will enjoy the moves.
[DVD extras: None]
What is it? A new motel owner finds trouble behind his walls.
Why see it? The film drops Nicolas Cage into the middle of a small desert town populated with weirdos, assholes, and one very suspicious police officer, but one brief moment of swagger aside it keeps him more calm than crazy. The film itself follows suit with scenes meant to be extreme instead feeling ridiculously tame — a pair of S&M segments feel almost PG-rated in their vanilla presentation. The thrills are absent, and the blame rests squarely at the feet of director Tim Hunter (River’s Edge) and a script that can’t decide what story it wants to tell.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: None?]
What is it? A family of three tries desperately to fit in before realizing everyone else can suck it.
Why see it? Rainn Wilson and Patricia Arquette are terrific here as self-conscious parents in the early 80s whose behaviors rub off on their teen daughter — played winningly by Kira McLean — and while it never exceeds its remarkably simplistic and expected story the charm is undeniable. It’s just ridiculously sweet all around watching the family struggle with acceptance and come into their own on their own terms. The laughs aren’t big, but they’re mostly honest.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Deleted scenes, featurettes]
The Sadist of Notre Dame [Severin Films]
What is it? A killer stalks the streets of Paris hoping to cleanse the world of sin.
Why see it? Jess Franco is a particular talent that I have yet to connect with, but I keep trying. This late 70s effort is fairly straightforward in its plotting as the killer (played by Franco himself) targets and dispatches women with his blade, but it also spends time with people committing violent perversions in the name of pleasure. Flesh, pubic hair, and blood flow with abandon. Severin’s new Blu features a 4K scan from elements “discovered in the crawlspace of a Montparnasse nunnery” — my favorite restoration factoid ever — and the extras include an interview appreciation with the always great Stephen Thrower.
[Blu-ray extras: Featurette, interviews, selected commentary]
Sinfonia Erotica [Severin Films]
What is it? A woman is caught up in the sexually deviant behaviors of those around her.
Why see it? More Jess Franco! I’m still not on the Franco train, but this heavy and atmospheric drama is probably the closest I’ve come to boarding. Lina Romay does notably strong work as the woman at the center of it all, and she’s visibly torn between her own desires and those of others to the point that she begins to crack. There’s a slight class criticism here about entitlement and decadence, and it pairs oddly with sexual interaction as explicit as you can get without erections and penetration. Franco’s inadequacy as a filmmaker still hurts the drama, but it’s a start.
[Blu-ray extras: Interviews]
Also out this week:
4/20 Massacre, Basmati Blues, Beast of Burden, Shakespeare Wallah, Trouble Is My Business
Related Topics: Home Video