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No Good Deed Goes Unpunished in Our Pick of the Week

By  · Published on July 25th, 2016

This Week in Home Video

River Lands a Man in a Nightmare of His Own Making

Pick of the Week


What is it? An American doctor (Rossif Sutherland) volunteering in Southeast Asia takes a break from the trauma with a short trip to Laos, but a night of drinking is followed by a good deed that immediately and irrevocably goes punished.

Why buy it? The scenario ‐ being accused and pursued for a crime in a foreign country ‐ offers a wealth of terrifying potential, and writer/director Jamie Dagg explores much of it without ever feeling exploitative or extreme. The doctor’s descent into a very real hell is suspenseful, entertaining, and ultimately affecting as he tries to escape what fate has placed in his way. The decisions he’s forced to make are thought-provoking conversation starters that will leave you wondering just where you’d land under similar circumstances.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: None]

The Best

The Deadly Trackers [Warner Archive]

What is it? Sheriff Kilpatrick (Richard Harris) runs a tight ship in his town, and he does it without ever having to fire a shot. His decree, and his luck, both run out though when a gang of outlaws led by a sadistic thief named Brand (Rod Taylor) come to town and leave Kilpatrick’s wife and son dead. Burning with a mad desire for revenge the sheriff chases the gang into Mexico with murder on his mind.

Why buy it? ’70s cinema was home to more than a few examples of darkly cynical films, and it’s a category that fits this western well. Harris’ character is someone wanting to take the high road, but his shift in the face of tragedy is challenged by another lawman to the point where the issue is a frequent topic of discussion and argument between them. It’s a violent film ‐ Harris even chokes out a little girl at one point in a scene that probably had her off-camera parents flinching ‐ filled with brutality and blood, and its view on humanity is suitably grim.

The Invitation [Drafthouse Films]

What is it? Will’s (Logan Marshall-Green) ex-wife Eden returns two years after the death of their young son and her subsequent disappearance with a new husband, and they’re back living in the home where little Tye passed away. The deliriously happy couple invite their friends to dinner as a way to reconnect and make peace, but when Will arrives with his girlfriend Kira by his side he immediately feels uncomfortable. Part of it is the house and the memories of his son, but there’s also something in the air that seems just a little bit off. The windows are barred, David keeps the doors locked with a key on the inside and the couple have a pair of guests staying with them who are unknown to Will and the six other friends who’ve arrived for the reunion. Will’s feeling only intensifies when Eden and her new friends show the group a video of a woman dying.

Why buy it? Director Karyn Kusama’s long overdue return to feature filmmaking comes six years after her much-maligned Jennifer’s Body, but while that film suffered from an inability to balance its horror and comedy halves her latest is far more assured. This is a serious slowburn that walks a carefully constructed line between Will’s suspicions and paranoia, and it mesmerizes through its frenzied conclusion. The script puts viewers in Will’s shoes throughout, and Marshall-Green does a fantastic job of making us feel his loss as well as the anger he still holds inside. In addition to being a suspenseful and well-acted ride the film also looks fantastic. Set almost entirely inside the house, the modern construct works to offset the fear of something evil at play. The playfulness and familiarity does the same, keeping viewers off balance as we and Will attempt to get a grip on the evening.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Commentary, making of, booklet]

Sing Street

What is it? 1980’s Dublin is world of hard economic times held in a tight Catholic grip, but for 14-year-old Conor it’s also a chance to find himself. Faced with the troubles of a new school he discovers an interest in fronting a band, and with a ragtag group of similarly-minded classmates he sets out to make music and win the heart of a local girl.

Why buy it? Regardless of what you think of John Carney’s previous films (Once, Begin Again) his latest is almost guaranteed to get your toes tapping and mouth smiling. There are dramatic beats here, but like the recent We Are the Best the focus is on young people finding their voice and having a great time in the process. Laughs, heart, and legitimately catchy songs await, and all of them make the slightly false note of the ending forgivable.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Making of, featurettes]

The Rest

Barbershop: The Next Cut

What is it? Calvin’s (Ice Cube) Barbershop is still a popular hangout for friends and strangers alike, but what used to be a place for the guys has since found new workers and customers of the fairer sex. The banter, jabs, and insults remain.

Why rent it? Cube’s comedies are slight by design, and while they’re far from memorable they typically offer at least a couple laughs alongside a generic feel-good plot. This third entry in the Barbershop series is more of the same even with the addition of the ladies and a subplot involving the community.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Featurette, deleted scenes, gag reel]

The Boss

What is it? Michelle Darnell (Melissa McCarthy) is the 47th richest woman in America, but she loses it all after an insider trading conviction sees her wealth and property seized. Her attempt to get back to the top involves brownies, preteen rumbles, and Peter Dinklage.

Why rent it? The creative team behind Tammy strikes again with another McCarthy-headlined comedy that’s not nearly as good as her best films but not nearly as bad as reviews would have you think. There are some amusing bits here including the aforementioned kiddie brawl, and while the unfunny sequences (sorry Dinklage) outnumber the good there’s enough here for fans of McCarthy to enjoy.

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

The Boy Who Cried Werewolf [Scream Factory]

What is it? Richie isn’t happy with his parents’ divorce, but he knows their split is outside of his control. He heads to a cabin for few days with his dad, but when a werewolf attacks his father is left with teeth marks in his arm and a hairy beast howling from within.

Why rent it? Scream Factory brings this film to home video for the very first time, complete with a new HD transfer, and there’s no denying the image is quite sharp for a forty year-old movie you’ve never heard of. The story is simple ‐ no one believes Richie that his dad was bit by a werewolf! ‐ but there’s PG-rated fun to be had thanks to some man vs werewolf brawls and the inability of most characters to keep their car on the road.

[Blu-ray extras: None]


What is it? A CIA agent is killed in the field, and the only chance the agency has at completing his mission rests in a dangerous and untested procedure. The agent’s consciousness is transferred into the mind of a convicted sociopath (Kevin Costner), for obvious reasons (?), but trouble arises when his maliciousness interrupts the search for a terrorist.

Why rent it? My affection for Costner is well-documented, and I’m pretty well in the bag for any movie that casts him as a morally vacant antihero, but this isn’t necessarily the best use of his abilities. The best thing I can say about it is that the film feels like a Luc Besson-scripted action film on Valium. Things are crazy, but they’re sedate too. Watch it for Costner, some fun action beats, and a supporting turn from Wonder Woman herself, Gal Gadot.

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


What is it? An after-hours explosion at a high school leaves death and destruction in its wake, but as the school’s attorney interrogates the only witness the truth surrounding the event grows both clearer and hazier.

Why skip it? There’s an immediate problem with the character and casting of the witness, but the film pretends for more than eighty minutes that viewers won’t notice. It’s impossible not to though leaving audiences both distracted and several steps ahead of the movie itself. It’s a shame as the performances are solid and the script has some otherwise engaging turns, but the obvious nature of that one issue just drains all of the weight and suspense from the story.

[DVD extras: None]

Hardcore Henry

What is it? Henry awakes in an operating room under the watchful eye of a co-ed in a lab coat. Her name is Estelle, and she’s both his doctor and his wife. She attaches a robotic arm and leg to his prone body, mentions that his memory banks and vocal chords aren’t quite ready yet, and then BAM! They’re under attack, she’s abducted, and Henry is forced on the run with armed mercenaries and a telekinetic albino right behind. His only possible ally is Jimmy (Sharlto Copley), a man who seems to know more about Henry than Henry does.

Why rent it? The POV action is most certainly a gimmick ‐ technically impressive and occasionally entertaining ‐ but still a gimmick. We see through Henry’s eyes as he shoots at enemy soldiers, falls from great heights, engages in a car chase, and ogles naked ladies, and while the action is fairly constant it varies in effectiveness. Big POV stunts are fun as they give us a view from inside the action we’re so used to seeing from without, but the fights fare less well as the close-quarters and shaky camera blur our enjoyment. It’s not long before the gimmick does what most gimmicks do and grows tiresome well before the end credits roll. This is basically a game of Duke Nukem with the wisecracks turned off and the nude patch turned on. It doesn’t sound too bad on the surface, but you’ll be wanting to switch over to a nice game of chess by the time Jimmy busts out his painful rendition of “I’ve Got You Under My Skin.”

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

Hellhole [Scream Factory]

What is it? Susan witnesses her mother’s murder and suffers amnesia during her effort to escape the killer. She’s placed in a mental hospital, but the people behind the assault remain close by waiting to see if her memories return. She has a bigger problem though in the hospital’s head (Mary Woronov) who’s been using unruly girls as guinea pigs in radical lobotomy experiments.

Why rent it? This is not a good movie, but fans of sleaze and gratuitous nudity will find much to enjoy here. So. Much. Nudity. I’m not complaining mind you, just pointing out that boobs, butts, and bush are used here as substitutes for character, drama, and thrills. Scream Factory’s new HD transfer looks good, the supplements here are anemic with only a single, short interview. Happily it’s a great one with Woronov that alone makes this disc worth a look. Well, that plus all the nudity.

[Blu-ray extras: Interview]

The Last Diamond

What is it? Simon is a thief, but as he’s released from prison the last thing he wants is to be drawn back into that lifestyle. That’s just what he gets though when an old peer persuades him to help on an epic heist. It all goes well, until it doesn’t.

Why rent it? Heist films are fun by default, and there’s a slickness to this one that pairs well with the French sensibilities and atmosphere. The story finds some sharp turns, the performances are solid, and the pacing never falters. It’s not a film destined for “best of the year” lists, but it’s a solidly entertaining and light thriller all the same.

[DVD extras: Interviews]


What is it? Two grad students, best friends David and Ryan, have been busy crafting a device that allows for thoughts to be transferred and read between people. Their work is far from complete, but when a government agency steps in the technique is applied in dangerous, Orwellian ways leading David to rethink his creation.

Why rent it? Writer/director Khalil Sullins delivers a cautionary tale about the limitations that should be placed on science, and while the story is thought-provoking it still maintains a degree of excitement. The visual style is a bit overdone though with saturation and lens flares filling the frame on a too-frequent basis.

[DVD extras: Q&A, interviews]

The Perfect Husband

What is it? Nicola and Viola were once a happily married couple, but a failed pregnancy sends a rift between them. Her mental state isn’t faring too well either so he takes her to a remote cabin for a relaxing vacation. Or is he planning to kill her?!

Why skip it? There are things to enjoy here ‐ namely some fun practical gore effects ‐ but the third act takes a turn reminiscent of a certain international slasher, and it crushes everything that came before. While that other movie survived on the strength of what came before, the first hour here isn’t nearly strong enough to make the final minutes forgivable.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Short film, featurette]

The Russian Woodpecker

What is it? Fedor Alexandrovich is a Ukrainian artist with a personal connection to the tragedy at Chernobyl. He was evacuated as a child when the reactor accident occurred, and now as an adult he’s looking for answers. His pursuit leads to the discovery of a theory that the meltdown may have been intentional.

Why rent it? Chad Garcia’s documentary explores some truly relevant ideas and theories as it suggests thousands of deaths were caused in an effort to cover up a massive failure. There are some fascinating moments and observations here, but the doc falters some in its presentation. Many of the scenes feel more crafted than documented, and while the facts seem believable they’re couched in shots, reactions, and conversations that seem somewhat prepared. It’s possible the film is as much artistic endeavor as documentary, but while that adds to the entertainment value it leaves the truth on shakier ground.

[DVD extras: Deleted scenes]

Also Out This Week:

I Am Wrath, The New World [Criterion Collection]

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.