Since we know how important at-home-entertainment is for all of us – every week we do a little “what’s getting released on DVD/on demand/Netflix this week” round up for you, with nice little excerpts of our past reviews and more. You’ll love it. Trust us.
OUT THIS WEEK & PROCEED WITH CAUTION:
- Blair Witch. Here’s what we said in our original review:
Prior to Blair Witch, Wingard has been better than this. His entry in V/H/S is unnerving in its own right, plus his films The Guest and You’re Next suggest that horror clichés bore him. But now that Wingard helms his first major feature release, he relies on the cheapest techniques available. Blair Witch devolves into one “gotcha” scare after another, many of them proving to be fake-outs, to the point where the cumulative effect is numbing. There is strong sound design, full of unnerving cracks, and the footage has just the right amount of disorientation. Still, Blair Witch cannot help but end with the same beats as the original project. The kids head toward that same house, knowing what fate awaits them. I give the kids a pass since they have no choice but to repeat the same mistakes. Barrett and Wignard do not deserve the same excuse.
OUT THIS WEEK & WORTH YOUR TIME:
- Don’t Think Twice. Here’s what we said in our original review:
Improvisational comedy relies on an ensemble having each other’s backs. When there’s support, it’s easier to try big and fail than it would be as a solo experience. As legendary improv teacher Del Close is quoted in Don’t Think Twice, “Fall, and then figure out what to do on the way down.” Writer/director Mike Birbiglia’s sophomore effort is a rare look at the improv comedy world that doesn’t treat the medium as a joke, rather looking at the very real stakes of what happens when one star shines while the others stay stagnant. Don’t Think Twice is Birbiglia actually killing two birds with one stone, showcasing a type of comedy that is terrifying in concept, while also seamlessly tackling when one’s life can be held back by embracing one’s dreams.
- Morgan. Here’s what we said in our original review:
It’s difficult to think about Morgan without thinking about all of the similar movies that have come before it. We’ve been writing stories about man’s thirst for creating life since horror was conceived, but not all of these films are made equal. When it comes to Morgan, I truly feel like we’ve hit the middle of the road. It’s not as bonkers as Ex Machina or stupid as some of its predecessors, but it’s clean, compact, and there is just enough intrigue to hold your attention. Even though there is little originality in the story, the parts that are unique truly do make a difference.
INSTANT VIEWING OF THE WEEK (Frigid Cold Edition):
- The Shining (now on Netflix). Here’s Eric Henderson over at Slant:
It’s the experience more so than the actual content of The Shining that radiates cold, anti-humanly indifferent terror. But Kubrick does hedge his bets by building in ambiguities, winding up in the film’s final question mark of a shot (so wholly different from the sunny ending of King’s novel that you can sort of empathize with the author when he speaks out against Kubrick’s adaptation). Having conflated the sadistic struggle between a man and his family into a horrific epic tragedy, Kubrick ultimately slaps the film back into a reversal of 2001: A Space Odyssey‘s coda, swapping accelerated evolution in favor of a regression so primordially violent it disrupts the fabric of time. In that sense, the film’s chronological Mobius warp places it outside of the context of something like The Haunting and more in line with Last Year in Marienbad (itself a pretty terrifying film, at least on the surface). Like Resnais’s gothic nightmare, Kubrick’s The Shining dwells at the outer limits of what can be thought of as a genre film, stretching the definition, filling it out, leaving it richer in its wake.
- In Order of Disappearance (now on Netflix). Here’s what we said in our original review:
The film’s title refers to unusual flourish: every time a character dies, Moland includes a title card that serves as their memorial. There is a tragic component to the memorials – we are acutely aware of every single death – and it also adds to the futility of everyone’s single-minded purpose. Nils seemingly takes no joy in revenge, and yet his techniques are creative: he uses elaborate snow-removal equipment in ways that are grimly hilarious. In one memorable scene, a snow plow crashes into a sedan, careening it into a hill like it had no weight whatsoever. All the action is matter-of-fact, and vicious: splatters of blood are all the more striking when they glisten in the harsh winter sun.
- Touching the Void (now on Netflix). Here’s Roger Ebert:
I didn’t take a single note during this film. I simply sat there before the screen, enthralled, fascinated and terrified. Not for me the discussions about the utility of the “pseudo-documentary format,” or questions about how the camera happened to be waiting at the bottom of the crevice when Simpson fell in. Touching the Void was, for me, more of a horror film than any actual horror film could ever be.
That’s it, nerds! Stay warm.