Things Get Twisted In Our Pick of the Week

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Pick of the Week

Who Killed Cock Robin

What is it? A journalist’s search for the truth has untended consequences.

Why see it? Dense, convoluted thrillers that pack a punch are wholly and completely my jam, but I understand why they might not be for others. This Taiwanese feature — from 2017 but only released in the US via this Blu-ray — fits the bill perfectly with a story that moves forward and back with dark revelations, distressing reveals, and an extremely bloody denouement. It’s that grisly ending that hits hardest, but the journey there is filled with interesting story turns and questions asked of the audience regarding the pursuit of truth. At what point is that knowledge no longer worth seeking, and is the price for it always worth paying? Fans of films that spend time with characters before twisting them to shit should seek this brutal gem out immediately.

[Extras: None]


The Best

Crawl

What is it? Alligators complicate one family’s hurricane preparation.

Why see it? Alexandre Aja previously found big, messy fun with his Piranha reboot, but his stab at reptile horror takes a different — and arguably better — route. It’s a leaner, tighter creature-feature, and while it still utilizes CG for its beasties it aims for suspense alongside its pure entertainment. Kaya Scodelario is a great action/horror lead and helps carry the movie alongside the thrills, and she pairs well with the suspense and drama unfolding against the gator kills.

[Extras: Comic, deleted scenes]

The Haunting of Hill House

What is it? Siblings raised in a haunted house reconnect as adults.

Why see it? Shirley Jackson’s classic novel has reached the screen before, but writer/director Mike Flanagan continues to show why he’s one of the most reliable horror filmmakers working today with his limited-series adaptation that updates the story, time, and terror. It succeeds at delivering a masterful blend of terrifying sequences, fantastic production design, and real emotional beats and arcs. It’s captivating and affecting from beginning to end, and this new release features extended episodes adding additional footage into several of the episodes. This is a horror experience worth surrendering yourself to more than once.

[Extras: Director’s cut, commentaries]

Hellboy – 4K UltraHD

What is it? A demon fights for the good guys.

Why see it? I’m in the minority in my enjoyment of this year’s Hellboy reboot — shut up, it’s fun — but for most people it’s this 2004 adaptation by Guillermo del Toro that reigns supreme. The fantastical filmmaker crafts a smart and imaginative world here with interesting creature design and action set-pieces, and it’s a movie well worth upgrading to 4K for thanks to its clear focus on visuals. The disc also comes loaded with extras, some exclusively on the 4K disc, and add to its value as a double-dip upgrade.

[Extras: Director’s/theatrical cuts, introduction, featurettes, commentary, deleted scenes]

Star Trek: Picard Movie & TV Collection

What is it? A collection of movies and TV episodes featuring Jean-Luc Picard!

Why see it? As part of the ramp up to the debut of the new CBS All-Access series Picard, some folks might want to revisit the good captain’s past adventures. It’s for them that this new Blu-ray will appeal the most as the set brings together all four feature Star Trek: The Next Generation films and two two-part episodes from the show. Patrick Stewart shines throughout all of it, sometimes brighter than the material itself, but it’s more than enough to get viewers excited for this new adventure.

[Extras: Commentary, featurettes]


The Rest

3 From Hell

What is it? The final entry in a mean-spirited trilogy.

Why see it? Rob Zombie’s films — outside of his best, 2012’s The Lords of Salem — require a particular taste for cruel, unanswered violence. It’s evident elsewhere, but it’s this trilogy consisting of House of 1000 Corpses (2003), The Devil’s Rejects (2005), and this film that cements it. Zombie loves these characters, but while he tries to paint them as anti-heroes they remain one-note sadists who are more obnoxious than interesting. At least they get that one note, though, as the supporting players don’t even warrant that. Fans of these films will find something to appreciate here, but for the rest of us it’s an unimpressive capper to an uninteresting trilogy.

[Extras: Commentary, featurette]

The Fearless Vampire Killers [Warner Archive]

What is it? A comic retelling of a familiar vampire tale.

Why see it? Years before Roman Polanski left the US to avoid a criminal conviction he directed this humorous riff on vampires and the men who hunt them. He plays a lead role as the dim-witted assistant to a Van Helsing-like man hoping to rescue a woman from the vampire clutches, and it’s his antics that deliver most of the chuckles. Polanski also co-wrote the script, and the result is a sharp tale poking fun at numerous conventions of the genre and characters. WB’s new Blu-ray offers up a sharp HD look at the shenanigans, and the laughs, the set-pieces, and the presence of Sharon Tate all make for a good time.

[Extras: Featurette]

Killer Nun [Arrow Video]

What is it? A nun descends into addiction and madness.

Why see it? The title, as well as its placement amid the 70s scene of Italian horror and nunsploitation, make the film feel like something its not. Yes, there are some kills and of course there are some naked nuns, but the film’s focus is far more on one woman’s breakdown. Anita Ekberg takes the title role (or does she?!) as a mature woman running headlong into doubt, mistrust, and encroaching insanity, and while those aforementioned thriller elements are here it’s the character’s very human drama that lasts beyond the closing credits. Arrow’s new release includes some extras shining light on the tale.

[Extras: New 2K restoration, commentary, featurette, interviews]

The Lingering

What is it? A woman and her son grow fearful of the living and the dead.

Why see it? This ghost story from Hong Kong offers an interesting setup as the boy’s father disappears with his mother soon to follow, but the atmosphere and creepiness of its early scenes grow dimmer once the boy grows up. The script — a rare horror effort by Ip Man franchise scribe Edmond Wong — fails to fully develop some of its early ideas and instead settles into a series of jump scares triggered by music/sound stingers. There are moments here, but there just aren’t enough of them.

[Extras: None]

Malevolence

What is it? Bank robbers and their hostage cross paths with a killer.

Why see it? The setup here is intriguing as two genre threads blend into one with thieves meeting a killer and resulting in bad news for everyone (but the killer). The film is fairly beloved by some die-hard slasher fans, and it’s easy to see the appeal of its mean-spirited atmosphere and antics. It’s not a “fun” slasher by any means, but fans of grim stuff will be satisfied, and fans of the film will love this new Blu-ray release.

[Extras: Commentary, featurettes, deleted scenes]

Malevolence 2: Bereavement

What is it? The prequel to Malevolence.

Why see it? The first film makes it clear that little Martin’s abductor makes the boy witness his horrific acts of violence against women, but what this prequel supposes is, what if we got a whole movie about that? The film benefits from the presence of Alexandra Daddario, but seeing as this is a prequel it’s clear going in that she won’t be making it out, and that certainly puts a damper on things. The film feels like the trilogy entry with the highest budget, but it delivers minor thrills.

[Extras: Director’s cut, commentary, featurettes, deleted scenes]

Malevolence 3

What is it? The killer is still killing.

Why see it? Part three in the trilogy suggest more installments are coming, but it’s unclear if that’s a good thing. Writer/director Stevan Mena’s talents haven’t exactly been growing with each new film, and this feels like a step backwards. The story picks up immediately after the first ends, and from there it just offers up a slight riff on John Carpenter’s Halloween. It’s a generic watch with stupid characters being offed by an invincible killer, and it’s never ever interesting (despite the presence of Adrienne Barbeau).

[Extras: Commentary, featurettes]

My Samurai

What is it? A boy in need of protection finds it from his karate instructor.

Why see it? “Samurai” is a strong word as the instructor is pretty straightforward as a normal guy doing his best under extreme situations, but his heart is in the right place. There’s fun to be had with this early 90s action film, but it’s worth noting that it’s a low budget affair with fight scenes that, well, are adorable in their sincerity. You already know if this is for you.

[Extras: Interviews]

Night Hunter

What is it? A dogged cop seeks a serial killer.

Why see it? This thriller starts pretty strong, and Henry Cavill, Alexandria Daddario, and Ben Kingsley all deliver engaging performances too. It stumbles some in the back half, though, as character choices and story turns head in certain direction. Still, fans of 90s thrillers — it’s a 2019 film — will find more than enough to enjoy here.

[Extras: None]

Stuber

What is it? A comedic take on Collateral.

Why see it? Kumail Nanjiani is an Uber driver whose latest fare is an angry, vengeful cop (Dave Bautista) with blurry vision. The comedy writes itself! But seriously, there are some laughs here as this pairing is funny on its face, but it’s a slight comedy all the same. The action is in the same boat as we get some minor shenanigans without any of it standing out. Fans of the two leads should definitely seek it out though.

[Extras: Deleted scenes, gag reel, commentary]


Also out this week:

And Soon the Darkness [KL Studio Classics], At War, Haxan [Criterion Collection], The Mind Benders [KL Studio Classics], The Omen Collection, Scary Movie [AGFA], Sudden Terror [KL Studio Classics], Ulysses and Mona, Ultra Q, Ultraman

Rob Hunter: @FakeRobHunter "Rob is great. He likes movies. He writes about them. And he's a good person."