Features and Columns · Movies

Our Pick of the Week Explores Gender and Sexual Identity Through Magic

By  · Published on December 15th, 2016

This Week in Home Video

Girls Lost Explores Gender and Sexual Identity Through Magic and a Norwegian Lens

Welcome to this week in home video! Be sure to click the title to buy any of the the titles from Amazon and help FSR in the process!

Pick of the Week

Girls Lost

What is it? Three best friends, bullied at school for being different and for being girls, find a magical flower that temporarily turns them into boys.

Why buy it? Bullying, gender, and sex are all important and heavy topics currently hanging around the halls of schools across America, and this Norwegian drama explores these themes and more through smarts, compassion, and magical realism. The confusion of young love, budding sexuality, and identity all come to a head with humor, heart, and a bit of violence. There’s a touch of The Craft here too as the trio use magic to confront themselves and those who’ve held them back, but its greatest scenes come as the magic fades and the girls are emboldened in who they are.

[DVD extras: None]

Girls Lost

The Best

Black Christmas [Scream Factory]

What is it? A psycho takes up residence in sorority house over Christmas break and begins killing the people within.

Why see it? Bob Clark’s best-known for his holiday classic, A Christmas Story, but before he shot Ralphie with a gun he killed some co-eds in this equally iconic slasher. It not only began the slasher genre proper, but it remains one of the few to deliver real terror as the killer stalks the house. Clark uses a combination of POV shots, creepy audio, and patiently paced sequences to make for a truly frightening film. The cast is equally fantastic with appearances by John Saxon, Art Hindle, Keir Dullea, Margot Kidder, and Olivia Hussey. Scream Factory’s new Blu pairs a beautiful picture with an abundance of extras, and it’s a must-own for horror fans.

[Blu-ray extras: New 2k scan, commentaries, interviews, making of, featurettes]

Black Christmas [Collector's Edition] [Blu-ray]


What is it? A veteran of the Afghan war suffering PTSD even as he works security details takes a job as bodyguard to the wife of an arms dealer, but his fragile mental state may be the biggest threat.

Why see it? The main setup ‐ a bodyguard is hired to protect a family ‐ has been done numerous times before with films as diverse as The Bodyguard and Man on Fire (both of them), but Alice Winocour’s take is less focused on the action than on the man. Matthias Schoenaerts stars as the troubled ex-soldier, and the film stays on him throughout allowing us to watch his mental and emotional struggles unfold. Diane Kruger supports as the wife, and it’s an interesting approach seeing their dynamic unfold exclusively through him. There is action here too, and it’s handled efficiently and with suspense.

[DVD extras: None]


Dreamscape [Scream Factory]

What is it? A young man with psychic abilities is brought into a secret government project that allows people to enter other’s dreams.

Why see it? Joseph Ruben’s sci-fi thriller has ’80s written all over it, but that remains half the fun. Dennis Quaid is a solid lead balancing his ability and his smirk equally, and the likes of Christopher Plummer and David Patrick Kelly excel as the film’s villains. Do the special effects hold up? Next question. Is it a fun watch? Yes it is. Scream Factory’s new Blu gives the movie a new remaster and some in-depth interviews.

[Blu-ray extras: New 2k scan, making of, interviews, commentary]

Dreamscape [Collector's Edition] [Blu-ray]

Sudden Fear

What is it? A popular playwright marries an actor she previously spurned for a role, but she soon begins to suspect he’s planning to kill her for her fortune.

Why see it? Joan Crawford and Jack Palance play the two leads, and both do terrific work. Palance in particular stands apart from his typical roles ‐ at least at first ‐ before he shifts into a potential menace and adds to the increasing suspense. The script is terrifically written devoting time for both characters to establish themselves before complicating the tale with murky motivations and deadly plans. The film takes great advantage of San Francisco too. Highly recommended for noir fans.

[Blu-ray extras: Commentary]

Sudden Fear [Blu-ray]

The Twilight Zone ‐ The Complete Series

What is it? All 156 episodes of the classic television show have been remastered in high definition.

Why see it? Rod Serling’s masterful brainchild remains one of television’s greatest accomplishments, and while the series is readily available elsewhere this new Blu-ray collection is the ideal way to enjoy it. Some of the early eps benefit less than most, but the picture quality difference is clear and well worth the upgrade for serious fans. There’s some great stuff here among the extras, but the main draw here is one of TV’s best shows ever.

[Blu-ray extras: Original pilot, commentaries, radio dramas]

The Twilight Zone: The Complete Series Blu-ray

The Rest


What is it? Judah Ben-hur is a Jewish prince enslaved by Romans, but after losing everything he holds dear he rises up by becoming a better chariot driver.

Why skip it? This had to have been the most predictable bomb of the year right? A remake of a well-known classic that replaces a star with Jack Huston and dangerous action with CG/trickery, this was a disaster waiting to happen. The end result speaks for itself with a dull retelling that adds little to the tale despite a few solid moments in the big chariot race. The Christ subplot feels forced too in an attempt to snag some of that sweet Passion of the Christ box-office.

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

Bridget Jones’s Baby

What is it? Bridget Jones is still single, but after treating herself to two consecutive one-night stands she also realizes she’s pregnant.

Why see it? The epic conclusion to the Bridget Jones trilogy is finally here. Renee Zellweger picks the character up right where she left it and once again finds her footing as a wise-cracking Brit, and happily she’s joined by the return of Colin Firth as one of her two lovers. Inexplicably though they’ve killed off Hugh Grant’s character ‐ ie the biggest reason to watch these movies ‐ and replaced him with an American played by Patrick Dempsey. The fireworks between the men aren’t nearly as energetic or fun, and the baby angle is as bland as you’d expect. Ultimately the film is worth it for the cast who deliver some fun moments as the obvious plot plods forward.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Deleted scenes, gag reel, featurette, making of]

Brother Nature

What is it? A young politician heading towards the limelight takes a lakeside vacation with his girlfriend and her family, but what should have been relaxing instead becomes a slapstick nightmare.

Why skip it? Taran Killam headlines this terribly unfunny comedy in a straight-man role that used to go to the likes of John Candy and Ben Stiller. The few laughs that do manage to eke their way onto the screen come via the incredibly talented supporting cast including Gillian Jacobs, Kumail Nanjiani, Bobby Moynihan, Kenan Thompson, and others. It’s a comedy of frustration ‐ more annoying than funny ‐ and the gags share a common trait of obvious stupidity.

[DVD extras: None?]

Counter Clockwise

What is it? A scientist working on a time-travel machine sends himself six months into the future only to discover just how much the world can change in half a year.

Why see it? Indie sci-fi movies can be tough due to budgetary constraints so the smart ones focus on tales that require the minimum of visual effects of futuristic production design. The best seem to focus on time travel ‐ Primer and Timecrimes are two examples ‐ and this indie looks to follow in their footsteps. It comes close too with some twisty turns that hold our attention, but the experience is hurt by shoddy performances and a somewhat cheap feel. I know ‐ it’s an indie! ‐ but the presentation feels low rent to the point of disruption.

[DVD extras: Making of, deleted scenes, commentaries]

Creepshow 2 [Arrow Video]

What is it? A wooden statue gets revenge, a sentient oil slick eats some annoying teens, and a terrible woman has a rough drive home.

Why see it? This follow-up lacks the EC-flavored fun and quality of the original horror anthology despite the returning talents of Stephen King and George Romero (as writer only this time around having handing over directing duties to Michael Gornick), but there are still highlights here across the tales. “The Raft” segment remains a favorite despite the cheap-looking slick in the water, and the other two both have solid effects and some good deaths. Arrow’s new Blu features multiple interviews alongside a cleaned-up picture.

[Blu-ray extras: New 2k scan, commentary, interviews, featurettes]

The Driller Killer [Arrow Video]

What is it? Reno has lived in New York City his entire life, but he’s reaching a breaking point thanks to economic pressures and the noisy punks who move in beneath him.

Why see it? Abel Ferrara’s late ’70s ode to all things grimy and gritty in NYC gets a solid special edition from Arrow packed with new extras. The movie itself is something of an acquired taste though. Most of its running time follows Reno ‐ played by Ferrara himself ‐ as his frustrations grow, and it’s hard to find drama in the performances. Things pick up once the slasher element comes into play though they may be a matter of too little too late.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: New 4k scan, commentary, interview, essay, documentary]

End of a Gun

What is it? An ex-CIA agent crosses paths with a drug lord in Paris, and people get shot and stuff.

Why skip it? The last of Steven Seagal’s seven direct-to-dvd releases this year ‐ seven! ‐ is every bit as generic and unexciting as the rest. On the bright side he’s playing a lead role here and doesn’t have someone else dub his lines, but the action remains a dull loop of gunshots, CG blood, and the single fight move Seagal seems to recall (or that he’s still capable of doing).

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: None]


What is it? A female investment banker faces struggles from inside her company and out while trying to bring a high-profile tech IPO public.

Why see it? Breaking Bad’s Anna Gunn headlines this financial thriller that’s as much about corporate intrigue as it is sexism among the executives and power-brokers. It finds suspense in some late sequences, but the real draw here is the character work and interactions as female players (along with a female writer and director) navigate the boy’s club of Wall Street. Unfortunately though the parts are greater than the whole.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Making of, featurette, Q&A]

Fear the Walking Dead ‐ The Complete Second Season

What is it? Survivors leave Los Angeles behind and head to sea in search of a land not tainted by the undead.

Why see it? AMC’s sister series to their hit The Walking Dead still hasn’t quite found a solid mix of characters we love and hate ‐ it currently leans heavier toward the latter ‐ but this season’s shift beyond the city, onto the ocean, and into Mexico helps keep things moving. Big fans of TWD are more likely to enjoy this one, if only for the possibility of it eventually crossing paths with the older show.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Commentaries, deleted scenes, Q&A, featurette, making of]

Florence Fosters Jenkins

What is it? A wealthy socialite dreams of becoming an opera singer, and her husband helps make it come true despite her lack of talent.

Why see it? Meryl Streep plays the title role and even performs the songs, and she does a solid job as both the likable old woman and a talent-free singer. More entertainment comes from Hugh Grant though as her husband who loves her despite leading a full life with another woman at the same time. This is the epitome of harmless, passable, mild fun.

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

Little Men

What is it? Two new friends watch as their parents clash over shared property and behaviors.

Why see it? Ira Sachs’ (Love Is Strange) latest excels when it focuses on the boys as their disparate personalities lead to engaging interactions, but too frequently the film becomes about the parents. They’re not only less interesting, but they’re also highly frustrating. It becomes a supposed battle of class and circumstance, but the opposing sides are equally obnoxious in their clashes.

[DVD extras: Making of, featurettes]

Man Facing Southeast

What is it? A patient appears at an asylum claiming he’s from another world, and the doctor soon begins to question his belief.

Why see it? Like a more serious K-Pax, this mid ’80s film from Argentina explores ideas of faith ‐ in other beings, in higher powers ‐ but it sticks more with drama than wonder. It creates some interesting conflicts and interactions, but it also leads to a questions that get teased without answers. Movies don’t need to answer every question of course, and this one is content leaving most to the imagination. It works in large part due to the madhouse setting as the visitor himself even acknowledges the perfection of his presence there. (But don’t get me started on that omnipresent saxophone.)

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Interviews]


What is it? A specialist is sent to evaluate the going on at a remote lab after their humanoid experiment lashes out violently against a behaviorist.

Why see it? Luke Scott’s debut feature starts things off well with a damn solid ensemble cast ‐ Michelle Yeoh, Anya Taylor-joy, Kate Mara, Brian Cox, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Paul Giamatti, Boyd Holbrook, Rose Leslie ‐ but as the familiar setup comes clearer we’re left with great actors struggling against a weak script. Characters, presumably smart scientist types, continually act like idiots allowing the various plot turns to occur. There’s a fun beat at the end, but some Giamatti goodness aside it’s a generic ride getting there.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Featurette, deleted scenes, short film, commentary]

The Orphan Killer

What is it? An orphan grows up and goes on a killing spree.

Why see it? Slasher films are plentiful, but the worthwhile ones are far harder to find. It takes something special to stand apart from the crowd ‐ an interesting killer, a smart script, etc ‐ but while this entry has neither of those it does have some cool practical gore effects. Seriously, they’re solid examples as to why practical will always beat CG. But yeah, the killer? Not so much. Not only does a slasher in a necktie fail to generate scares or atmosphere, but having him speak bad, overdubbed dialogue doesn’t help. Normally I’d rail against the in media res opening too ‐ because it’s never a good idea ‐ but it’s really the least of the problems here.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Featurette]

The Park Is Mine

What is it? A Vietnam vet fed up with the system’s treatment of others like him takes control of NYC’s Central Park until the issue is addressed.

Why see it? A staple of late ’80s HBO, this low-key siege film sees Tommy Lee Jones donning camouflage and taking on New York’s finest. His story becomes a rallying cry for vets and locals, and the film works best as a genre-based effort at gaining attention. It goes a bit heavy on the genre turns though as the the city inexplicably brings in Russian and Vietnamese mercenaries to take him down ‐ it’s just a bit extreme ‐ while still never going full bore with the action and carnage. Watch it for Jones, but you’ll find more exciting thrills and coherent messages in something like First Blood.

[Blu-ray extras: Commentary]

Star Trek: The Original Series ‐ The Roddenberry Vault

What is it? CBS did some spring cleaning and found snippets of scenes and outtakes from various Star Trek episodes that had never before been released.

Why see it? Star Trek fans will definitely want to check out this new collection of twelve episodes and the newly discovered extras. The eps are presented in HD, and the snippets are accompanied by three new documentaries exploring the discovery of the footage and its relevance through the eps.

[Blu-ray extras: Documentaries, extra footage, commentaries]

Southside With You

What is it? A young lawyer named Michelle spends the day with a new associate at the firm named Barock.

Why see it? Michelle and Barock Obama’s first date gets the Before Sunrise treatment in this sweet and relaxing film from writer/director Richard Tanne. Both leads do warm, terrific work capturing the president and first lady both in spirit and characteristic, and the film has an easy-going pace that just pulls viewers along on a comforting lazy river of inspiration and good humor.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Commentary, artwork]

Stagecoach: The Texas Jack Story

What is it? An outlaw retires to a life as both husband and rancher, but he finds himself targeted by a marshal he injured years before.

Why skip it? As westerns go this is definitely one, but it’s a tough one to really enjoy. On the plus side the marshal is played by the always great Kim Coates, and that’s pretty much it for the plus side. Trace Adkins can’t compete as the anti-hero, the action feels is weak, it never really sells this as a “western” world, and the story wants us to view the ex-outlaw as the good guy here but it’s impossible to do.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: None]

The Stewardesses

What is it? A group of stewardesses practice for the mile high club down on earth any chance they get, but while they have fun getting busy one of them is nosediving towards tragedy.

Why see it? This softcore feature was a steady presence at midnight screenings ‐ and apparently held the 3-D box-office record before Avatar ‐ and it’s not hard to see what made it so easy to swallow for viewers. There’s no real plot as we instead just watch the girls meet guys, fool around, meet more guys, etc. One girl breaks the pattern by making out with a statue bust, and the end takes a surprisingly dark turn, but most of the feature is talk and shtooping. It really is a time capsule of sorts and a reminder that air miles are no substitute for the perks of yesteryear.

[Blu-ray extras: 3-D/2-D versions, short film in 3-D/2-D]

Suicide Squad

What is it? A ragtag group of psychopaths and supervillains are brought together as a team meant to fight even bigger threats.

Why skip it? David Ayer’s misguided DC adventure isn’t as aggressively troubling as Batman v Superman, but it’s still the lesser of the two movies for multiple reasons. The script is a mix of the dumb and just plain stupid with characters almost as inane as the plot. The bright spots here are few with only Will Smith’s Deadshot and Karen Fukuhara’s Katana standing out as interesting characters. The rest are annoying (Harley Quinn) or idiotic (Captain Boomerang). Not even the action saves the film ‐ typically an Ayer strong suit ‐ and we’re left with a highly unsatisfying adventure.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Featurettes, gag reel]

Also Out This Week:

The Asphalt Jungle [Criterion], Creepshow 2 [Arrow Video], The Driller Killer [Arrow Video], I Am Not a Serial Killer [Scream Factory], Let’s Be Evil [Scream Factory], Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, Morgan, Roma [Criterion], Shelley [Scream Factory], Slash

Related Topics:

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.