Features and Columns · Movies

Our Pick of the Week Will Leave a Trace on You

Plus 18 more new releases to watch at home this week on Blu-ray/DVD!
My Abandonment
By  · Published on October 2nd, 2018

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

Leave No Trace

Leave No TraceWhat is it? A father and daughter used to living off the land and off the grid find conflict with society.

Why see it? Ben Foster is a fascinating actor typically typecast as a volatile villain, but here he’s given the very human role of father doing his best to protect and provide for his daughter. The story sees the clash between a person’s desire to remove themselves from society and society’s inability to let them go, but more than that it’s the tale of love and family brought to beautiful life with the landscape of Oregon and the masterful artistry of writer/director Debra Granik. See this movie.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Deleted scenes, featurettes]

The Best

Light Sleeper [Umbrella Entertainment]

Light SleeperWhat is it? A drug dealer has a series of bad days.

Why see it? Paul Schrader’s character study about a criminal facing retirement is an engaging drama with hints of humor and suspense, but the main draw here is Willem Dafoe’s terrific lead performance. He’s captivating in his behavior and reactions to the world around him, and it’s a delight seeing him play an ordinary guy (within reason) facing struggles both mundane and cinematic. It’s a great film, and Dafoe is joined by Susan Sarandon, Dana Delany, and a young Sam Rockwell.

[Blu-ray extras: Commentary, Q&A]

The Naked Prey [Criterion Collection]

The Naked PreyWhat is it? A guide is captured by an African tribe and forced to run while hunter pursue him.

Why see it? Cornel Wilde’s film remains as thrilling a tale of survival as any you’ll find, and he excels as both star and director. The film smartly and wisely portrays the men and women of the tribe as people rather than merely “others” and that adds to the character drama. There’s real action and suspense in the pursuit, and he faces off against threats from people, wildlife, and the landscape itself. It builds to a rousing finale and a tremendous moment of respect between the players. It’s a truly great adventure.

[Blu-ray extras: Commentary]

Next of Kin [Umbrella Entertainment]

Nextof KinWhat is it? A woman comes home after her mother’s death to find old people and terror.

Why see it? As well as Australia is known for action movies and oddities their horror offerings aren’t nearly as common. It’s an atmospheric slowburn that reveals its mystery with attractive visuals and some dark story beats. There is some legitimately great camerawork here, and along with a faux-Goblin score (at times), some overall creepiness, and even some action it all makes for a really solid horror/mystery. The film’s worth seeking out, and Umbrella’s new Blu-ray is the way to do so.

[Blu-ray extras: Commentaries, featurette, deleted scene, short films, region free

Sicario: Day of the Soldado

SicarioWhat is it? The drug war between the US and cartels south of the border continues.

Why see it? There’s no denying that this sequel is a lesser film compared to the original, but that doesn’t stop it from being a thrilling action/drama with exciting, smartly crafted set-pieces. It’s a viscerally grim shot of reality, and it’s headlined with a pair of intensely entertaining performances from Benicio Del Toro and Josh Brolin. Even as the story moves into familiar territory it does so with real intensity that leaves you wanting more — and leaves me wanting a third film. It’s an ugly topic, no doubt, but it walks a fine line between action and exploitation in that regard.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Featurettes]

Three Identical Strangers

Three Identical StrangersWhat is it? Three young men discover by accident that they are identical triplets separated at birth.

Why see it? Documentaries come in a few different flavors, but the ones that appeal to me most typically feature people I’ve never heard of with extraordinary stories. This award winner falls into this category with its tale of three brothers separated at birth. They find each other by accident nineteen years later and are immediately close, but for tall the joy their reunion brings it also comes with sadness, regret, and mystery. The doc works as a very human story, but it also serves as a cautionary tale about the powers that be.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Q&A, commentary]

The Rest


AfraidWhat is it? A couple on a weekend getaway are being watched by someone with nefarious intent.

Why see it? Films like 13 Cameras and Ratter deliver tense thrills with their tales of tech-savvy psychopaths capturing their victims on tape before tightening the snare in the final frames, and while both films have flaws they deliver where it counts. The latest entry in that specific subgenre can’t quite reach the same level of intensity or terror. More accurately, it doesn’t deliver intensity or terror. We see the detailed setup bringing this wired cabin to life and watch as the couple arrives unaware that they’re being watched, but it just never feels as unnerving or unsettling as this premise should. The ending delivers one last story beat, but while novel it’s too little too late.

[DVD extras: None]

Barry – The Complete First Season

BarryWhat is it? A depressed hitman looks for a diversion in the world of acting.

Why see it? Bill Hader takes the lead here, and while he’s dabbled in the intersection between comedy and drama before he’s never quite succeeded as well as he does here. It’s extremely funny, but the laughs are a deceptive distraction from the gut-punch drama building around them. The balance between Barry’s two careers is equally well-crafted giving his acting efforts a matching weight to his time as a killer. It’s just terrific episodic television from beginning to end, and not just because Henry Winkler co-stars.

[DVD extras: Featurettes]

Blood Fest

Blood FestWhat is it? A horror festival turns into a slaughterhouse.

Why see it? Two films with seemingly similar premises came out within a couple months of each other, but while Hell Fest is a “serious” slasher about people being killed at a horror-themed festival experience, this one takes a slightly different tact. Rather than be a single killer, this fest’s organizer is behind the mayhem and has his employees handling the carnage. The ticket-buyers are fodder for themed villains and monsters, and it’s played mostly for laughs. There are some fun beats here, but the film shoots itself in the foot more than once by bragging endlessly about its genre knowledge. It’s like a tiresome and increasingly annoying Randy from Scream, but without the suspense and smarts to back it up. The movie is fun enough depending on your horror love.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Featurettes, deleted scenes, commentary]

The Catcher Was a Spy

Catcher Was A SpyWhat is it? A professional baseball player is recruited as a spy during World War II.

Why see it? Fans of spy movies won’t be disappointed by this admittedly low-key affair as the elements are otherwise in place from the twisting story to the suspenseful beats, but there are two other factors which play an intriguing role here. First, it’s based on a true story — one most of us have never heard of before — and two, it stars Paul Rudd working well outside his usual comedic wheelhouse to solid effect. There are no big set-pieces necessarily, but the film does a solid job creating its world and executing its story.

[DVD extras: Deleted scenes]

Death Race: Beyond Anarchy

Death RaceWhat is it? Car races with bonus points for carnage.

Why see it? We’ve come a long way from Roger Corman’s brilliantly subversive Death Race 2000 which blended action and black comedy with a smart commentary on society. The franchise now is little more than generic car action, but this latest entry has a couple things going for it depending on your interests. First, the car action features some solid practical beats that entertain. And second? It’s basically a Skinemax film for some reason too as women get naked left and right for your viewing pleasure. Make of that what you will.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Featurettes, commentary]

Feral [Scream Factory]

FeralWhat is it? A friendly camping trip turns deadly… as they always seem to do.

Why see it? The main premise here is familiar enough — going to the woods? prepare to die! — but the story tries to do something fresh with it with mixed results. The focus here is on the idea that friends succumbing to a violent illness can either be feared or helped, but that’s realistically what all infection films come down to, and just like those the obvious route here is to fight back against them and mourn them later. SO ignore the “fresh” ideas and stay for the familiar done well. There are some fun, gory beats here to help pass the time, and genre fans will want to give it a spin.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: None]

The First Purge

First PurgeWhat is it? The Purge is a familiar part of our history now, but here’s how it all began.

Why see it? The three prior Purge films have been a mixed bag with the second — The Purge: Anarchy — being the best-realized and most entertaining — but one overriding question for some of us has been how did it all begin? Apparently. It’s never been a franchise interested in subtlety, but the prequel is so on the nose as to be boring. Weak action sequences, bright CG blood, and a confused idea about its antihero adds to the bland mess. It’s just not believable, something that’s necessary if you’re trying to bridge the gap from now to this future, and worse,

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Deleted scene, featurettes]


HousewifeWhat is it? A woman’s desire to end an onslaught of night terrors opens the door into something worse.

Why see it? 2015’s Baskin announced the presence of a viscerally exciting new filmmaker in Can Evrenol, and his follow-up once again delivers a familiar setup blossoming into something visually exciting and bloody. Here we see a woman fall in with a cult, but the question as to her role in it all is teased out with strong imagery and growing intensity. It ends someplace genre fans will probably see coming –the DVD’s artwork doesn’t help — but it does so with real style and dark energy.

[DVD extras: None]

The Landing

LandingWhat is it? The true story of Apollo 18.

Why see it? Faux documentaries on serious topics are tough, because if you don’t commit fully to being convincing then you’re left with a distraction. This thriller works more often than not thanks to its structure and lack of sensationalized thrills, but while it does a great job matching actors from then to now it takes two stumbles that knock viewers out — one actor is very recognizable from other roles (CHiPs baby!) and it also shows “footage” from the mission that clearly wasn’t shot then, meaning it’s a fictional recreation trying to pass as real footage trying to pass as a real doc. Still, it’s well-crafted and delivers enough to make it worthwhile.

[DVD extras: None]


MollyWhat is it? A special young woman roams a post-apocalyptic wasteland.

Why see it? The apocalypse is a popular topic for genre cinema, and while some go the direction of big stunts (Mad Max) others pair smaller action with more specific stories. This feature from the Netherlands follows the latter route as its lead character has been experimented on and now displays extraordinary powers, but happily she also kicks butt the old-fashioned way. The choreography isn’t ideal — staging and speed are both lacking — but there’s plenty of it guaranteeing a film that delivers thrills and excitement. It’s low budget, but the landscape is bright, the energy is high, and it’s never a bad thing seeing a woman take down multiple threats.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Featurette, commentary]

The Quiet Earth [Umbrella Entertainment]

The Quiet EarthWhat is it? A man wakes up to discover that everyone else has disappeared.

Why see it? New Zealand has found attention in recent years as a home to quality cinema, but it’s not really anything new. In addition to being home to Peter Jackson’s humble beginnings the country also birthed this sci-fi cult classic onto screens back in the ’80s. The premise is one found in various fictions, but Geoff Murphy’s film added to it with the love triangle and hard science. It’s an interesting and fun watch, and it makes it a fine addition to Umbrella’s Beyond Genres line (although I wish they ported over Neil deGrasse Tyson’s commentary).

[Blu-ray extras: Commentary]

Sleep No More

Sleep No MoreWhat is it? A study hoping to cure humanity’s need for sleep causes deadly side effects.

Why see it? The argument here is that once a body has gone 200 hours without sleep they’ll never need it again. It’s goofy, but the film plays it straight to deliver some strong atmosphere as visions enter their waking space. It’s very much a riff on Flatliners, and while it lacks the star power there are thrills to be had here. If nothing else the film’s affection for decades old UK pop keeps thing interesting for your ears.

[DVD extras: None]

Tales from the Hood 2

Tales From The HoodWhat is it? An anthology of terror tied to black America.

Why see it? 1995’s Tales from the Hood is a socially relevant film offering a much-needed perspective, but just as important at the end of the day — it’s also a terrific time at the movies for horror fans. A horror anthology with a focus on black characters and lives it delivers thrills, humor, and commentary in equal measure. Twenty three years later a sequel has arrived with original creators once again at the helm (along with producer Spike Lee), and while it’s a lesser creation there’s still fun to be had. Chief among the fun is host Keith David having a grand time chewing scenery and dialogue alike, and while the low budget hurts its goals at time there’s enough for fans of the original to enjoy.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: None]

Also out this week:

The 12th Man, The Beverly Hillbillies – Season Five, Confessions of a Young American Housewife, La Familia, The Love Boat – Season Four, Rififi [Criterion Collection], Rodin, Saved By the Bell – The Complete Collection, Soul Food – The Complete Series, Step Brothers [4K UltraHD], Strangers on Earth

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Rob Hunter has been writing for Film School Rejects since before you were born, which is weird seeing as he's so damn young. He's our Chief Film Critic and Associate Editor and lists 'Broadcast News' as his favorite film of all time. Feel free to say hi if you see him on Twitter @FakeRobHunter.