The first Silent Hill film was released in 2006, and based on a popular survivalist video game. It adds greatly to Revelation’s story to have seen the original. In the sequel, Michelle Williams-lookalike Sharon (Adelaide Clemens) and her father (Sean Bean) are moving from town to town, evading the cult members from Silent Hill who want Sharon back to complete their prophecy. When dad goes missing, Sharon and a local boy go to find him, and instead are transported to a horrific world of demons, deformed half-humans/half-machines, and scarier still: clowns. Some great visuals (the mannequins sequence was awesome) but almost too many to appreciate. Just one making-of extra on the Blu-ray disc.
• Robot and Frank
A touching tale of friendship in an America that looks a lot like ours, but isn’t. Frank (Frank Langella) is a relic from another time, the last man in town to visit the local library, where books with duct-taped spines are earmarked for the shredder but the librarian is cute (Susan Sarandon). Frank is getting a little derelict himself, living in perpetual clutter and with a wandering memory. His son (James Marsden) delivers a robotic health-care aide, which Frank initially rejects. But when it becomes clear that the robot can help Frank get up to his old tricks (Frank is a former diamond thief), things change. "I need him. He’s my friend." Langella is a marvel in this touching film about aging, the inevitability of change, and friendship. Director and writer commentary and a poster gallery are included on the standard disc.
• The Man With The Iron Fists
The opening credits to this Quentin Tarantino production feature more action than some full-length films I’ve seen. The blacksmith (played by Wu Tang Clan’s RZA, who co-wrote with Eli Roth and directs for the first time) narrates the tale of warring Chinese tribes, brothels and shifting loyalties. Russell Crowe has a hoot as Mr. Knife, Lucy Liu is the brothel’s madam. The Man With The Iron Fists features some very cool armour, fab fight sequences and a staggering amount of plasma, amazing set design and costuming, and a soundtrack that mixes hip hop and classic soul music. But for all the spectacle and side plots, it just doesn’t come together the way we’d like it to. Extras include On Set with RZA: mini snippets from the film, deleted scenes and an extra on why they shot in China rather than Austin.
It’s all about creepy kids in this fourth installment of the Paranormal franchise. The film opens with baby Hunter being spoiled by Aunt Katie, shortly before he was abducted. Then Wyatt is hanging with his teen sister (Kathryn Newton), spied on by the kid across the street who has a fork that tells the future. The teen character makes all the difference: it appeals to the film’s demographic, plus it makes all the random self-documentation — by IM, webcam, etc. —believable. Teen tech whiz Ben (Matt Shively) sets up the house-wide surveillance, kicking off the terror countdown with Night No. 1. Nothing terrifically scary happens until Night 11, so settle in and get comfy. In the meantime we have quirky toys, swinging lanterns, moving furniture, and a kid on a Big Wheel, a la The Shining.
Special features include almost half an hour of "recovered files," plus an extended version of the film.
• House at the End of the Street
There’s both a theatrical version and an unrated cut of House at the End of the Street, starring Jennifer Lawrence as Elissa, a moody teen who falls for the boy next door (Max Thieriot). Unfortunately, the boy next door may or may not be bonkers, thanks to the fact that his sister killed their parents a few years back (seen in thunder-lit, day-glo flashbacks). Cue walks in the woods and all manner of things that go bump in the night. Banter between daughter and mom (Elisabeth Shue) feels genuine, even when some of the scares feel formulaic. But everyone likes a little twist, so stay tuned. A Journey Into Terror is included on the Blu-ray’s extra features.
A nominee for Best Documentary Feature this year, Searching For Sugar Man is the remarkable true story about a musician named Rodriguez, who producers thought was going to be the next big thing in the early ’70s, but for some reason the record never hit. Rodriguez faded into obscurity and it was rumoured that the artist played one last gig and then committed suicide onstage. But in the meantime, one of his records made its way to South Africa, then under heavy censorship. The record was copied, became popular, and eventually sold hundreds of thousands of copies, even though the songs were banned from radio airplay. Rodriguez became bigger than Elvis, and became an inspiration in the anti-Apartheid movement, even though no one in South Africa could discover anything about him. An amazing story whether you’re a music junkie or not: it’s interesting from a political point of view, and Rodriguez as a character is fascinating. Extras on the standard disc include commentary, a making-of extra with a wealth of home-movie footage, and a Q&A at the Tribeca Film Festival.
• Death Race 3: Inferno
Death Race 2000 came out in 1975 and starred David Carradine and Sylvester Stallone mowing down innocent pedestrians for points. In their new incarnation, Death Races feature convicts who kill each other by whatever means necessary in a fight to the finish. "Frankenstein" (Luke Goss) has miraculously survived from Death Race 2, and is back to win his freedom and stop the franchise from going worldwide, led by an evil Dougray Scott. "More cars, more cons, more death" is the motto here, in this boobs-and-body-count offering co-starring Ving Rhames, Danny Trejo and Tanit Phoenix. Blu-ray features include an unrated version, deleted and alternate scenes, a making-of featurette, commentary with director Roel Reine, a Racing For Death exclusive, and more.
• For A Good Time Call…
In Vancouverite Jamie Travis’s first feature film, Lauren (Lauren Anne Miller) and Katie (Ari Graynor, Celeste and Jesse Forever) shared a horrific moment back in college and haven’t seen each other since. But after Lauren is dumped by her reliable boyfriend and Katie is about to be evicted from her dream apartment, the two former enemies reluctantly agree to move in together. Little does Lauren know, but Katie is working part-time as a phone-sex operator; Lauren offers to streamline Katie’s business and the two become partners, then odd-couple besties. Justin Long co-stars as their gay BFF; very dirty cameos from Seth Rogen and Kevin Smith. A very funny flick about friendship, that just happens to be surrounded by R-rated chitchat. Special features on the standard disc include deleted scenes, feature commentary with Graynor, Miller and Travis, plus a making-of featurette with audience reaction to the film.