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article imageReview: Evil is where you least expect it in this week’s releases Special

By Sarah Gopaul     Dec 12, 2018 in Entertainment
This week’s releases include a sequel that surpasses the original; a failed opportunity; an unlikely cult favourite; a movie with a fresh premise; a high-def, high-intensity film collection; and another version of a true story.
Along with the Gods: The Last 49 Days (Blu-ray & DVD)
Well Go USA
As the deceased soul Su-hong and his three afterlife guardians face the remaining trials to obtain their reincarnation, the guardians come face-to-face with the buried truth of their tragic time on earth a thousand years ago, culminating in a final battle with a rogue god.
It’s not often this happens, but this is one of those rare occasions in which the sequel surpasses the original picture. The first film’s focus was on the design of the Underworld and the trials within it. Now, the guardians themselves become the centre of the narratives and, more specifically, how they died more than a millennium ago. As the lead guardian remains with Su-hong to argue his case, the other two come to Earth where they’re supposed to reap an elderly man protected by a god. Instead, the latter find a boy in need and answers to questions they never thought possible. The narrative jumps between their parallel journeys as well as their respective flashbacks, which is the most compelling part of the story as their pasts are quite complicated.
Special features include: character intros; production documentary; and trailers. (Well Go USA)
Brewster McCloud (Blu-ray)
Warner Archive Collection
Brewster (Bud Cort) sits at the heart of the fable, a young man who yearns to fly like a bird and lives in a fallout shelter inside the recently built Houston Astrodome. A fairy godmother figure (Sally Kellerman) aids Brewster in his quest to construct his human-powered wings, while Daphne Heap (Margaret Hamilton) is Brewster’s anthem-belting nemesis. Brewster’s temptation is embodied by Suzanne (Shelly Duvall), while Frank Shaft (Michael Murphy) kicks the film into car chase territory. Oh wait — we forgot the serial killer part…
Director Robert Altman brought some wonderful films to the screen, but he’s also made some very strange movies. This is one of the latter. Probably one of his least commercial pictures, this is the story of a man who wants to fly like a bird… and a serial killer whose signature is bird droppings left on the corpse… and beautiful women who are inexplicably attracted to Brewster, who shows little interest in sex. There’s also a professor who intermittently cuts in to share some facts about birds that is somehow related to the scene. Not surprisingly, it doesn’t make a lot of sense and can be difficult to follow if you’re only looking for a casual watch. But as much as it’s a fantastical fairy tale, there’s also an underlying darkness that permeates the whole film.
There are no special features. (Warner Archive Collection)
Galveston (4K Ultra HD & Blu-ray)
RLJ Entertainment
Roy (Ben Foster) is a heavy-drinking criminal enforcer and mob hit man whose boss set him up in a double-cross scheme. After killing his would-be assassins before they could kill him, Roy discovers Rocky (Elle Fanning), a young woman being held captive, and reluctantly takes her with him on his escape. Determined to find safety and sanctuary in Galveston, Roy must find a way to stop his boss from pursuing them while trying to outrun the demons from his and Rocky’s pasts.
These stories about violent men finding penance in children or young women they encounter on the job are experiencing a resurgence. The latest features Foster, whose gruff exterior has provided the opportunity to play grittier roles of late. Similarly, Fanning’s fragility, beauty and willingness to play imperfect characters has given her comparable challenges to play. Roy and Rocky have lived difficult lives even though she’s only half his age. Where she does what she must to survive, he feels he still has a moral code to hold in spite of his own sins — do what I say, not as I do. This attitude informs their relationship, as well as Roy’s obligation to making sure Rocky finds a better life.
Special features include: making-of featurette. (RLJ Entertainment)
Howard Lovecraft and the Kingdom of Madness (Blu-ray & DVD)
Shout Factory
After returning from his previous adventure to the Undersea Kingdom, young Howard Lovecraft must lead an expedition — including his father, Winfield; Uncle Randolph; and Miskatonic University's Dr. Henry Armitage — to Antarctica, to prevent the awakening of Cthulhu.
The other films in this series have long foreshadowed that Cthulhu would eventually live up to his moniker, “destroyer of worlds.” It’s in this chapter that Howard is forced to see his friend as the threat that everyone else sees. However, Spot isn’t his only problem. There are tears between dimensions popping up everywhere and someone is going to betray Howard’s trust. Luckily, the risk of extinction is a persuasive influence when it comes to unifying disagreeable parties. Unfortunately, even the most well-designed plan doesn’t always go as hoped and unhappy sacrifices are still required. The story culminates in a fantastic battle of magic and monsters with a welcome surprise during the mid-credit sequence.
There are no special features. (Shout Factory)
I Still See You (Blu-ray & Digital copy)
Lionsgate Home Entertainment
Ten years after an apocalyptic event left the world haunted by ghosts, Roni (Bella Thorne) receives a threatening message from beyond the grave. Joining forces with Kirk (Richard Harmon), a mysterious classmate, Roni descends into a shadow world that blurs the bounds of the living and the dead — and begins a desperate race against time to stop a cunning killer.
The setting of this story is fascinating in itself — a world filled with ghosts forced to repeat the same actions as if caught in a loop. Though their presence can be unnerving, people take solace in the fact that they cannot affect the physical world… but rules change over time. Both Roni and Kirk have observed different phenomenon that discredit this theory, but, of course, no one believes them. In the meantime, the supernatural element is to some extent supplanted for a murder mystery the teens must solve in order to save Roni’s life. The combination of the mystical surroundings and the thrilling whodunit makes for an entertaining picture that explores new territory.
Special features include: commentary by director Scott Speer and actress Bella Thorne; deleted scenes with optional commentary by Speer; “Remnants: Manifesting I Still See You”; and “Break My Heart 1,000 Times: Novel to Screen.” (Lionsgate Home Entertainment)
Lizzie (Blu-ray & Digital copy)
Lionsgate Home Entertainment
An unmarried woman of 32 and a social outcast, Lizzie Borden (Chloë Sevigny) lives a claustrophobic life under her father’s cold and domineering control. When Bridget Sullivan (Kristen Stewart), a young maid, comes to work for the family, Lizzie finds a sympathetic, kindred spirit — and a secret intimacy soon blossoms into a wicked plan.
This theory that relates Lizzie’s motives to her homosexuality was proposed by mystery author Ed McBain in his 1984 novel, also titled Lizzie. In this film, her father is shown to be oppressive and perverse. Consequently, the women connect through their mutual dislike for him, but there’s also a level of joy that emerges from their clandestine bond. The timeline is a bit of a jumble as it goes between Lizzie’s trial and the events in the weeks/months leading up to the slaughter, but the mounting tension in the house and Lizzie’s increasing desperation is tangible. The overall tone of the film is very sullen, which means even the romantic element of the movie is still rather sombre. Stewart is comfortable in the part as she demonstrated she could play a brooding young woman entwined with a forbidden love in her introductory role. Sevigny is constantly on edge and often borderline frantic, which makes her choice to kill believable but her character difficult to empathize with.
Special features include: “Understanding Lizzie.” (Lionsgate Home Entertainment)
Mame (Blu-ray)
Warner Archive Collection
This screen adaptation of the Broadway musical hit adaptation of Auntie Mame has Lucille Ball take on the role made famous by Rosalind Russell, the eccentric Mame, who believes that "life is a banquet and most poor suckers are starving to death."
This is a narrative that covers three distinct periods in Mame’s ward’s life. The first is the time immediately following his father’s death, at which point he is sent to live with his only living relative, his aunt. The next is years later when he’s ready to marry and then briefly in the near future after he’s had a son of his own. Mame is the epitome of a free spirit who hosts lavish parties, says absurd things and lets responsibility fall to others in her circle. Even when she lands on hard times, there’s a bailout in the wings. However, her nephew is provided a different view of her eccentricities by his would-be fiancée’s family whom Mame feels she must teach a hard lesson. Ball is wonderful in her final screen appearance, while Bea Arthur impresses from the sidelines of their long-time friendship.
There are no special features. (Warner Archive Collection)
The Mangler (Blu-ray)
Scream Factory
A cop (Ted Levine) investigates a series of grisly accidents and uncovers a deadly town secret that has been hidden for years — a terrifying entity that threatens to destroy everything in its path. With time running out and a young girl's life in the balance, he races to destroy the beast before it's too late.
This is a Stephen King adaptation that doesn’t always comes to mind, but was exceptionally well-executed by the cast and director Tobe Hooper. Remembering the film was made at a time when practical effects were still the primary method, the sets and machine construction are even more impressive. Manual labour often presents its own dangers, but this hazardous contraption is a menacing killer. Much like a sweatshop, the workers are forced to ignore the risk, forget their dead friends/co-workers and maintain their quotas. Of course, there’s something more sinister afoot, which a cop grounded in facts will find difficult to believe, but he must defend the innocent people against them all the same.
Special features include: commentary by co-writer Stephen David Brooks; “Hell’s Bells,” an interview with actor Robert Englund; behind-the-scenes footage; TV spot; and theatrical trailer. (Scream Factory)
Mission: Impossible 6 Movie Collection (4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray & Digital copy)
Paramount Home Media Distribution
A “mission” two decades in the making. Tom Cruise is IMF Agent Ethan Hunt, one of the greatest action heroes of all time, in the adrenaline-pumping, suspense-filled blockbuster franchise Mission: Impossible. Filmed in the most exotic locations around the world by the biggest directors in Hollywood, this six-film set is great for action fans.
Over the course of six movies since 1996, Hunt and his team, primarily consisting of Luther Stickell (Ving Rhames) and Benji Dunn (Simon Pegg), have saved the world’s population from lethal attacks and toppled secret organizations. Accused of treason more than once, he’s always found a way to clear his name and make things right again. In addition to numerous famous actors joining the regular cast for an installment, the series has had several notable characters, including Brian De Palma, John Woo, J.J. Abrams, Brad Bird and Christopher McQuarrie. The various bonus features highlight Cruise’s preference for doing as many of his stunts himself, which resulted in a broken leg in the most recent picture. This collection also boasts high-def versions of all the films, which brings even more thrilling details to the often complex action sequences — and allows you to see it really is Cruise riding a motorcycle against traffic or whatever other dangerous stunt he’s performing.
Special features include: “Mission: Remarkable — 40 Years of Creating the Impossible”; “Mission: Explosive Exploits”; “Mission: Spies Among Us”; “Mission: Catching the Train”; “Mission: International Spy Museum”; “Mission: Agent Dossiers”; “Excellence in Film”; “Generation: Cruise”; commentary by director John Woo; alternate title sequence; “Behind the Mission”; “Mission Incredible”; “Impossible Shots”; "I Disappear" music video by Metallica; “Excellence in Film”; “Generation: Cruise”; commentary by actor Tom Cruise and director J.J. Abrams; deleted scenes; making-of featurette; “Inside the IMF”; “Mission Action: Inside the Action Unit”; “Visualizing the Mission”; “Mission: Metamorphosis”; “Scoring the Mission”; “Moviefone Unscripted: Tom Cruise/J.J. Abrams”; “Launching the Mission”; “Mission Accepted — Suiting Up in Prague”; “Mission Accepted — Heating Up in Dubai”; “Mission Accepted — Vancouver Fisticuffs”; “Impossible Missions — The Russian Prison”; “Impossible Missions — Shooting in IMAX”; “Impossible Missions — Art Department”; “Impossible Missions — A Roll of Film”; “Impossible Missions — Life Masks”; “Impossible Missions — Stepping Into the Storm”; “Impossible Missions — The Sandstorm”; “Impossible Missions — Dubai Car Crash”; “Impossible Missions — Lens on the Burj”; “Impossible Missions — Props”; “Impossible Missions — Composer”; commentary by actor Tom Cruise and director Christopher McQuarrie; “Lighting the Fuse”; “Cruise Control”; “Heroes...”; “...And Rogues”; “Cruising Altitude”; “Mission: Immersible”; “Sand Theft Auto”; “The Missions Continue”; “Top Crews”; “Travel Agents”; “Opera-Tion Turandot”; “Practically Impossible”; “Stunts”; “Cut!”; “Variations on a Theme”; commentary by director Christopher McQuarrie and Tom Cruise; commentary by director Christopher McQuarrie and editor Eddie Hamilton; commentary by composer Lorne Balfe; deleted scenes montage with optional commentary by director Christopher McQuarrie and editor Eddie Hamilton; “Behind the Fallout”; “Foot Chase Musical Breakdown”; “The Ultimate Mission”; storyboards; isolated score track; photo gallery; TV spots; and theatrical trailer. (Paramount Home Media Distribution)
The Nun (Blu-ray, DVD & Digital copy)
Warner Bros. Home Entertainment
When a young nun at a cloistered abbey in Romania takes her own life, a priest (Demián Bichir) with a haunted past and a novitiate (Taissa Farmiga) on the threshold of her final vows are sent by the Vatican to investigate. Together they uncover the order’s unholy secret. Risking not only their lives but their faith and their very souls, they confront a malevolent force in the form of the same demonic nun as the abbey becomes a horrific battleground between the living and the damned.
This evil spectre first frightened audiences in The Conjuring 2, a franchise that has introduced several disturbing characters. However, the one thing horror fans appreciate in this style of movie is smart characters, yet this narrative is plagued with classic errors and poor judgement: the characters separate in dark hallways, follow shadows and lures in the night, and investigate strange noises alone. And there various other narrative issues, such as the sisters’ motivations at the start of the film, too much comic relief and a conclusion lifted almost entirely from another movie. This movie is dedicated to a monster that already proved to be inherently frightening, but in spite of a couple of good scares and an underlying creepy tone, it never quite gets to where it should’ve been, which is disappointing since there was so much potential for more. Nonetheless, the manner in which they link this origin story to the overarching Conjuring universe is predictably perfect and foreshadows what will hopefully be a more satisfactory confrontation in the future.
Special features include: deleted scenes; “A New Horror Icon”; “Gruesome Planet”; and “The Conjuring Chronology.” (Warner Bros. Home Entertainment)
Silent Night, Deadly Night Part 2 (Blu-ray)
Scream Factory
Ricky (Eric Freeman) is being released from a mental hospital. He takes with him the terrifying memory of his brother Billy’s (Robert Brian Wilson) death and the memory of Mother Superior who brought about his brother’s demise. For Ricky, starting a new life means avenging his brother’s death, which sets him on a blind journey of relentless revenge, leading ultimately to Mother Superior. And when he gets to her, not even her faith will be enough to stop Ricky as he follows in the family tradition of Christmas carnage.
This is a curious sequel as the first half of the film is comprised of footage almost entirely from its predecessor. While locked in a mental hospital, Ricky is visited by yet another doctor there to record his story. Instead, he spends much of his time recounting Billy’s tale and the detailed circumstances that led him to be a serial killer. When the story finally circles back to Ricky, there doesn’t seem to be much left to tell so the narrative finally grounds itself in the present. His mission isn’t exactly arduous based on Mother Superior’s age and health, but it’s meant to settle a personal score with the wicked old woman and almost makes getting to the climax worth the tiresome repetition.
Special features include: commentary with director Lee Harry, actors Eric Freeman and James Newman; commentary by co-writer/director Lee Harry, co-writer Joseph H Earle and actor James Newman; “Slay Bells Ring Again: The Story of Silent Night, Deadly Night 2”; “Garbage Days Are Here Again”; “Ricky Today”; “I Don’t Sleep”; and theatrical trailer. (Scream Factory)
Smallfoot (Blu-ray, DVD & Digital copy)
Warner Bros. Home Entertainment
This film turns the Bigfoot legend upside down when a bright young Yeti (Channing Tatum) finds something he thought didn’t exist — a human! News of the “smallfoot,” Percy (James Corden), throws the simple Yeti community into an uproar over what else might be out there in the big world beyond their snowy village.
This is a slightly odd but amusing story of what a persecuted species might think of humans and the world, in general. Over many generations, the Yeti have created folklore to explain various phenomenon and, in some cases, to keep their community safe. Conspiracy theorists believe humans are real, but they’ve had no evidence until now. Most unexpectedly, this movie has a strong musical element with extensive choreography, but it works within the narrative. The confrontation in the final act is foreshadowed throughout via Percy’s character, but what follows is more of a surprise. The voice cast is well-suited for their roles and the film passes for animated entertainment, though it still doesn’t quite measure up to some of its counterparts.
Special features include: “Yeti or Not, Here They Come! Imagining Smallfoot”; “Super Soozie” mini movie; Migo in “The Secret of the Yeti Stones”; Nial Horran “Finally Free” music video; Cyn “Moment of Truth” music video; “Wonderful Life: In 28 Languages, Sung Around the World” music video; “Yeti Set Go Sing-Along”; and theatrical promos. (Warner Bros. Home Entertainment)
Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation (Blu-ray)
Scream Factory
When a helpful family invites two lost couples in for a good ol' down-home massacre, the prom night teens find themselves all dressed up — with no place to escape. To their dismay, the old farmhouse is home to Leatherface and his insane family of cannibalistic psychopaths.
This is the fourth film in the franchise and it is probably the wildest. Leatherface is the only key returning character, but his family has been replaced by even crazier personalities led by Matthew McConaughey. It’s essentially a B-movie that doesn’t deserve to be as enjoyable as it is since it’s also incredibly sadistic and disturbing. Yet, it’s a favourite among many Chainsaw fans. It’s kind of like watching, “Before they were famous,” as McConaughey chases Renée Zellweger around the woods and through the creepily adorned rooms of his twisted home. Viewers may lose count of the number of near-escapes she has, but that and his remote-control leg are just part of the fun.
Special features include: theatrical and director’s cuts of the film; commentary with writer/director Kim Henkel; “The Buzz is Back,” an interview with Director of Photography Levie Isaacks; “Marked for Death,” an interview with actor Tyler Shea Cone; “If Looks Could Kill: The Return of a Chainsaw Massacre,” an interview with special makeup effects artist J.M. Logan and production designer Deborah Pastor; still gallery; and theatrical trailer. (Scream Factory)
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