‘Hotel Transylvania,’ ‘Paranormal Activity 4′ and ‘Seven Psychopaths’ Hits HD
The Super Bowl seems destined to dominate the entertainment landscape this week, but for those folks who aren’t fans of football, there are other options.
Specifically, home entertainment is starting to get interesting again after a few weeks in which only catalogue titles or independent releases provided the few bright spots for Blu-ray collectors.
The Awakening (Universal Studios Home Entertainment)
The One-Liner: Rebecca Hall stars in this intimate thriller about a “hoax exposer” who finds more than she bargains for after the death of a child at a boarding school is blamed on a ghost.
Picture Perfect? Although the film looks generally gloomy – a sort of overcast, greying sheen – that’s intentional, and the high-definition transfer preserves said look with as much vividness and details as one can get through the filters originally used to shoot it.
What Else Is There? Deleted scenes, a collection of featurettes and an interview with director and co-writer Nick Murphy give viewers an opportunity to find out how the filmmakers brought the ghost story to life, so to speak.
How Badly Do I Want It? A modestly effective little scarefest, this failed to make too many waves last year during its release, but it’s worth checking out – at least via a rental – if you’re a fan of the genre.
Citadel (New Video)
The One-Liner: This SXSW Midnighters Audience Award winner follows an agoraphobe who reluctantly ventures into a towerlike apartment complex to save his family from a group of “possibly supernatural” thugs.
Picture Perfect? Shot sometimes in extreme darkness but generally using minimal lighting, the film is as once effectively creepy on home video and disappointingly difficult to view, since detail and clarity are often undermined by shadow-shrouded imagery.
What Else Is There? B-roll footage, cast and crew interviews and a making-of featurette reveal the process of making this festival-circuit charmer.
How Badly Do I Want It? Another horror film that functions best as alternative programming to studio fare, it’s worth checking out via rental, but it doesn’t seem to have quite enough intensity or uniqueness to make it the sort of “favorite” film buffs want to watch over and over.
The One-Liner: Clone Wars director Genndy Tartakovsky tackles this monster mash-up about a resort where iconic horror characters shack up without fear of being found out by regular folks.
Picture Perfect? In 2- or 3D, this is a gorgeous, vividly-rendered movie, offering spectacular clarity and color that is sure to keep both kids and parents captivated.
What Else Is There? The mini-movie Goodnight Mr. Foot, directed and animated by Tartakovsky, is sure to entertain kids, while deleted scenes and a filmmaker’s commentary offer deeper insights into the movie for their grown-up counterparts.
How Badly Do I Want It? As a solid, family-friendly addition to anyone’s home video library, Hotel Transylvania is a pretty terrific choice, so it might be worth buying.
Paranormal Activity 4: Unrated (Paramount Home Entertainment)
The One-Liner: The impossibly successful found-footage horror series delivers another installment, finally picking up at the end of the timeline set up in the first three films – even though it doesn’t quite pay them off.
Picture Perfect? Although each installment was created on the cheap, the images – supposedly photographed on consumer-grade webcams and cell phones – look solid and clear, except when they’re supposed to be disorientingly amateurish.
What Else Is There? In addition to an unrated cut of the movie, the disc features almost 30 minutes of deleted scenes that the studio gussied up to look like additional “discovered footage,” but yet again, there’s nothing really chronicling the process of putting these films together, which always happens by committee and an ongoing process of trail and error.
How Badly Do I Want It? Definitely the slightest in the series, Paranormal 4 is a disappointment in comparison to its predecessors, but it guarantees several effective scares, making it a worthy rental but not a “necessary” addition to anyone’s Blu-ray collection.
Seven Psychopaths (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment)
The One-Liner: In Bruges writer-director Martin McDonagh returns with this oddball comedy about a group of crooks and the kidnapped dog that comes between them.
Picture Perfect: A remarkably great transfer offers saturated, vivid images that never sacrifice texture or clarity.
What Else Is There? With the exception of Seven Psychocats, a parody of the trailer featuring a collection of felines in the actors’ roles, the extras are at best superficially insightful, offering conversations with the cast and crew about the characters and locations.
How Badly Do I Want It? Depending on your appetite for these irreverent, violent comedies, McDonagh’s latest might be a must-see movie for you, but it’s at least worth a rental.
Which of these Blu-rays are you most excited about buying? Watch the Seven Psychocats trailer, and then let us know what movies are on your must-see list in the comments section below!