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Review: Nobody can help you but you in this week’s releases (Includes first-hand account)

47 Meters Down (Blu-ray, DVD & Digital copy)


Lionsgate Home Entertainment

Sisters Lisa (Mandy Moore) and Kate (Claire Holt) become trapped at the bottom of the ocean after a diving expedition to observe sharks goes horribly wrong. When the cable attached to the cage snaps, it sinks to the bottom of the ocean and the sisters must figure out a way to get back to safety battling injuries, lack of oxygen, and worst of all, bloodthirsty, great white sharks.

Ever since Steven Spielberg‘s Jaws, audiences have had a love/hate relationship with sharks and a general mistrust of the ocean. There have been a number new reasons to be afraid of the water in recent years as filmmakers share fresh tales of deep blue terror. This is the latest “sharks are scary” movie and it’s actually a bit more novel in its approach. Most of the film takes place on the dense ocean floor where the sisters are trapped in and around the cage keeping them relatively safe. Masks attached to their respirators keep this from being a silent picture, while also enhancing the horror of their situation when they can’t hear anyone answering their call. The conclusion is especially compelling as it rollercoasters through a variety of emotions.

Special features include: commentary by writer/director Johannes Roberts and producer James Harris; and making-of featurette. (Lionsgate Home Entertainment)

Channel Zero: Candle Cove: Season One (DVD)


Universal Pictures Home Entertainment

The TV series centres on one man’s obsessive recollections of a mysterious children’s television program from the 1980s, which almost no one seems to remember. He grows increasingly suspicious of the role it may have played in a series of nightmarish events from his childhood, including the disappearance of his twin brother.

The series has a bit of a slow start as it vaguely begins to tell its story with a series of seemingly unrelated events. There is the mysterious disappearance of his twin brother when they were kids. There’s the strange pirate puppets television show that some people remember and others are convinced never existed. There’s the new cases of missing children once again plaguing the town. There’s the strange nightmares that seem to link all of these things together. It’s not until almost midway through the series that viewers can start to put all the pieces of the puzzle together and make sense of it all — though it’s a little tough to hang on to get to that point.

Special features include: deleted scenes. (Universal Pictures Home Entertainment)

The Dead Next Door (Blu-ray)


Tempe Digital

An elite team of Zombie Squad soldiers are pitted against hoards of the undead and the secretive religious cult hell-bent on protecting them.

This is a strange, low-budget film in which there are two distinct sides to the post-apocalyptic war (three if you count the zombies). The soldiers are very definitive in their approach to the pandemic, which includes a poorly aimed gun. Conversely the cult almost worships the undead, sustaining and protecting them from harm in spite of the obvious threat they hold. The humans are generally too busy attacking each other to really assess the zombie threat. There isn’t a lot to recommend this film since even though it has an interesting concept, the execution leaves a lot to be desired. Perhaps the cult idea will appear in The Walking Dead one day.

Special features include: commentary by producers J.R. Bookwalter, Jolie Jackunas and Scott P. Plummer; deleted scenes and outtakes; behind the scenes footage; “Restoration of the Dead”; Capitol Theatre Screening Q&A; The Nightlight Screening Q&A; galleries; and trailers. (Tempe Digital)

The Devil’s Candy (Blu-ray)


Scream Factory

Diehard metal-head and struggling artist Jesse (Ethan Embry) moves with his wife (Shiri Appleby) and daughter (Kiara Glasco) to a rural Texas town, unaware that the house they got for an unbelievable deal comes with a grisly history. Their dream home turns into a nightmare as disturbing demonic occurrences culminate with the appearance of Ray (Pruitt Taylor Vince), the home’s former resident who’s destined to do the devil’s bidding.

Innovation in the horror genre is hard to come by as it seems the same stories and themes are endlessly recycled and repackaged. But this movie actually has something a little different to say. Whether the evil resides in Ray or the house, it’s consuming both of them. Ray hears voices he attempts to drown out with an electric guitar or satiate with the blood of innocents. Meanwhile, its influence on Jesse is expressed through his paintings, which become increasingly dark and alarmingly morbid. This malevolent force is juxtaposed with a father’s efforts to protect his daughter — from potential monsters and possibly himself. It’s a gripping narrative that unfolds in a manner that will keep audiences on the edge of their seats.

Special features include: commentary by director Sean Byrne; behind-the-scenes — visual effects; “Advantage Satan” short film; music video; art gallery; and theatrical trailer. (Scream Factory)

Girl in the Box (DVD)


Lionsgate Home Entertainment

In May 1977, 20-year-old Colleen Stan (Addison Timlin) was kidnapped by a young married couple, Cameron and Janice Hooker (Zane Holtz and Zelda Williams). For the next seven years they kept her locked in a coffin-sized box hidden beneath their bed for up to 23 hours a day. When not imprisoned, Colleen became part of a strange new life as a live-in slave, family child-minder, and victim of Cameron’s bizarre and extreme S&M fantasies.

This is the tragic and distressing true story of a poor woman who is treated as subhuman for nearly a decade. Being trapped in the wooden box for so many hours, she has no sense of how long she’s been held captive. They slowly wear Colleen down with torture and exhaustion until they’re able to gain her complete subordination with ridiculous threats of an underground slave organization. The Hookers seem like an average couple, except for Cameron’s cruel sexual desires. Janice is not keen on imprisoning Colleen in their home, but her presence saves Janice from enduring her husband’s cruel fancies. It’s sad and upsetting from start to finish, though it only scratches the surface of her horrific ordeal. The actors take significant risks in these roles, which is evident in their genuine portrayals of these complex characters.

There are no special features. (Lionsgate Home Entertainment)

Lycan (DVD)


MVD Visual

When six college kids in a sleepy Southern town are assigned a group project to rediscover a moment in history, one of them sets in motion a horrific fate when he proposes they head into the Georgia backwoods to tackle the legend of Emily Burt, a hundred-year-old true fable of “the Talbot County werewolf.”

While the validity of the werewolf legend is purposely called into question throughout the narrative, the identity of the potential perpetrator is repeatedly teased and retracted. The strange girl in the group is meant to be a topic of interest for audiences, sharing an obviously personal story during a round of telling ghost stories at the campfire. However, in spite of the slightly less traditional conclusion, the film plays into too many horror stereotypes that hamper the narrative.

Special features include: Interviews with cast including with Dania Ramirez, Rebekah Graf and Vanessa Angel; interview with director Bev Land; interviews with Michael Mordler (co-writer), Crystal Hunt (Executive Producer) and Steven C. Pitts (2nd Unit Director); panel discussion with Lycan producers and writers; and original theatrical trailer. (MVD Visual)

Mune: Guardian of the Moon (Blu-ray, DVD & Digital copy)


Universal Pictures Home Entertainment

In a land far away, the sun and moon shine only thanks to heroic Guardians. But when an unlikely little creature, Mune, is chosen to be the new Guardian of the Moon, a vengeful ex-Guardian takes advantage of his inexperience and steals the sun. Now Mune must team up with Sohone, the swaggering Guardian of the Sun, and Glim, a headstrong girl with a taste for adventure, to rescue the sun and save their world.

This wonderful, poetic story sounds as if it stems from cultural lore of how the sun and moon came to hang over Earth, but it appears to just be something invented by the creators. In any case the magical tale is very appealing with saturated cool and warm colours, each representing the life preserving globes that circle the planet. Sohone appears to be braggart, but he actually takes to Mune quite quickly and the two are able to work together to defeat the former Guardian. They meet a lot of amusing characters along the way, while also discovering their full potential for greatness. The all-star voice cast does a great job bring life to these characters, who could become household favourites if more people watched it.

Special features include: making-of featurette; “The Art of Mune”; and US theatrical trailer. (Universal Pictures Home Entertainment)

Ned and Stacey: The Complete Series (DVD)


Shout Factory

Self-absorbed Ned Dorsey (Thomas Haden Church) is an ad exec who needs a wife to climb the corporate ladder. Stacey Colbert (Debra Messing) is a neurotic freelance writer in need of an apartment. They have only one thing in common: they irritate each other. So naturally, they enter into a marriage of convenience. It’s a match made in … well, not exactly heaven.

They say opposites attract, which almost always proves true eventually in a TV series, but it’s the bickering of the early years that is usually most entertaining. Both desperate to achieve some personal goal, Ned and Stacey agree on a business partnership that promises awkwardness. By them not initially liking each other, it allows for that aspect of the narrative to extend into years while they gradually grow on each other. Church’s deadpan delivery alongside Messing’s neurosis make them interesting roommates that will inevitably become more to each other as they share almost every square inch of the apartment. Unfortunately, the show only lasted two seasons so it never fully explored these avenues. In the meantime, even though getting married briefly got Stacey’s parents off her back, their judgement returns quickly for audience’s amusement.

Special features include: commentary for the pilot episode with the show’s creator; and a 20 minute retrospective including interviews with Debra Messing and Thomas Haden Church. (Shout Factory)

Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (Blu-ray)


Shout Factory

The one and only Billy Shears (Peter Frampton) and his best friends the Hendersons (Bee Gees) are four young men from the quaint little town of Heartland. With superstardom calling, this fabulous foursome leaves Heartland — and Billy’s beloved Strawberry Fields (Sandy Farina) — vulnerable to mean Mr. Mustard (Frankie Howerd), who steals Sgt. Pepper’s magical instruments for a fiendish, “evil force that would poison young minds, pollute the environment, and subvert the democratic process.” It’s up to our heroes to save everything they hold dear with the power of music, kindness and heart.

Producer and band manager Robert Stigwood had a penchant for musicals and rock operas. Having bought the rights to most of the songs on two of The Beatles‘ albums, “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” and “Abbey Road”, he commissioned a writer to develop a movie using the music. The result is a film with almost no dialogue as the characters express everything via song. The plot is a bit thin, but still generally coherent and it’s quite the experience to watch these superstars in their own right perform the music of their famous contemporaries. Moreover, Aerosmith’s rendition of “Come Together” is one of the picture’s highlights. The commentary by pop culture historian Russell Dyball provides a lot of fascinating anecdotes about various aspects of the film, including alternative casting choices and performance debates.

Special features include: commentary by pop culture historian Russell Dyball; and original theatrical trailer. (Shout Factory)

Taken: Season One (Blu-ray & Digital copy)


Lionsgate Home Entertainment

A former Green Beret, Bryan Mills (Clive Standen) becomes swept up in a quest for vengeance after he fails to protect one of those closest to him. Recruited to join a group of CIA operatives, Mills begins to hone his deadly skill set as he dives headfirst into dangerous missions that test his courage and push him to the edge.

Mills’ infamous line indicates he refined his skills for tracking and killing over many years. This series provides a glimpse of how he first began to sharpen these skills alongside these elite operatives, though he was recruited because he already possessed many of the abilities they value — they would simply help him develop them. Standen isn’t exactly a young clone of Liam Neeson, who made the character popular on the big screen, but he exhibits the same qualities and attitude. It’s a little cliché to jumpstart the narrative with another threat to Mills’ family, but it at least isn’t the main focus of every episode. The season finale puts Mills in a precarious position, which he’ll have to deal with in season two.

Special features include: “Taken: On Set.” (Lionsgate Home Entertainment)

Transformers: Five Movie Collection (Blu-ray & Digital copy)


Paramount Home Media Distribution

Transformers, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, Transformers: Dark of the Moon, Transformers: Age of Extinction, and Transformers: The Last Knight.

Some may find it hard to believe the most recent film is only the fifth in the franchise as it feels like the literally larger-than-life robots have nearly destroyed and saved Earth far more often. Taking its cue from the Marvel universe, the destruction from the last couple of films is actually a featured aspect of the most recent narrative, setting up the war between the humans and machines… though when looking for potential partnerships, the government seems to have some trouble distinguishing on whose side they should be on. This collection assembles all the enormous fight scenes and massive explosions that have been this franchise’s and Michael Bay‘s signature for the last 10 years, tracing the journey from freshly landed autobots to historical

There are no special features. (Paramount Home Media Distribution)

Transformers: The Last Knight (4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray & Digital copy)


Paramount Home Media Distribution

Humans and Transformers are at war, and Optimus Prime is gone. The key to saving our future lies buried in the secrets of the past, in the hidden history of Transformers on Earth. Saving our world falls upon the shoulders of an unlikely alliance: Cade Yeager (Mark Wahlberg); Bumblebee; an English Lord (Anthony Hopkins); and an Oxford Professor (Laura Haddock). There comes a moment in everyone’s life when they’re called upon to make a difference. The hunted will become heroes. Heroes will become villains. Only one world will survive: theirs, or ours.

While the films in this franchise have become increasingly extreme with each new release, this one seemed to take the cake by proposing King Arthur was supported not only by the Knights of the Round Table, but also a dozen Transformer knights who fought alongside good humans ever since. If one wonders how filmmakers came up with this tale, just watch the disjointed creation story in the bonus features. In any case, director Michael Bay still knows how to stage epic CGI fight scenes and blow things up, so the visuals in the film continue to be arresting in ultra high-def. The inclusion of Hopkins in the movie is puzzling on many levels, but he appears to be having a great time being the old guy with a diminished filter. This film does introduce some interesting storylines for the next picture, but that may be one of its few redeeming qualities.

Special features include: “Merging Mythologies”; “Climbing the Ranks — Military training”; “The Royal Treatment: Transformers in the UK”; “Motors and Magic”; “Alien Landscape: Cybertron”; and “One More Giant Effin’ Movie.” (Paramount Home Media Distribution)

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Written By

Sarah Gopaul is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for film news, a member of the Online Film Critics Society and a Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer-approved critic.

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