The Week In Video Part XLV

Wednesday, March 5 2014
The Week In Video Part XLV

Our latest missive on our week’s worth of home viewing of current and forthcoming DVD and Blu-ray releases…

Another week, another batch of Signature titles, and, we’re pleased to report, the first title from the independent that we viewed has already got off to a flying start as the company continues to fly the flag for DTV releases. Skinwalkers also proves that, with first week sales of more than 13,000 units, that there’s life in the found footage sector yet. This is an interesting take on the genre, although it does feature plenty of familiar elements, not least the fact it blends the supernatural with Dark Skies-style alien abduction, allowing it to kill two birds with one stone in terms of an audience. That Dark Skies feel continues on the sleeve and more power to Signature’s elbow for picking another winner.

Also from Signature comes Cabin Fever 3 Patient Zero, essentially a prequel to the horror franchise and one that ought to follow in its illustrious predecessors’ footsteps. There are no surprises here; in a move reminiscent of, say, Zombie Flesh Eaters, it transposes the virus that has proved such a problem in the first two films, to an island in the warm seas. Heck, there’s even some underwater action, although nowhere near as notable as Fulci’s classic. Cue a good hour’s worth of sores getting worse, skin being ripped off and finally, limbs falling off. A good solid horror and a welcome addition to the franchise.

At the opposite end of the spectrum from this comes our last Signature title of the week, Daisy: A Hen Into The Wild. It’s an animated title from Asia, the beauty of it being is, that for its target market, they won’t know anyway, or care. This kind of farmyard tale is often overly twee with US or European animators at the helm, but this feels a touch better than some of the me-too cheaper animated titles we’ve seen. We watched with our youngest junior correspondent and he thoroughly enjoyed himself, which is the key test as far as we’re concerned. The sub-Disney animated sector is still a lucrative one and this will really work in that arena.

More DTV action, albeit of a far more mature kind, came from I Am Soldier, a homegrown title that is part of UK arm of Lionsgate’s move into its own productions catering specifically for that market. It blends the distributor’s commercial nous with local talent. The film follows a group of recruits trying out for the SAS, It felt both perfectly of its time and catering for the DTV world, while at the same time, reminiscent of a 70s film – 30 or 40years ago, it would have been Lewis Collins, today it’s the ever-watchable Noel Clarke. You can’t fault it for knowing exactly where it wants to go – and succeeding at it too. It’s good to see yet another UK distributor going after titles that will appeal specifically to an audience, even better to see it so closely involved with the production. It deserves to succeed…

We’ve been working our way through a batch of Anchor Bay titles recently too, the latest to attract our attention was Nothing Left To Fear. It’s got a distinctly old-fashioned feel to it, perhaps unsurprisingly because that’s the stated aim of former Guns N Roses guitarist Slash’s production company, Slasher Films. His involvement gives it one of its key selling points, along with a commercial sleeve. Not the most original horror you’ll see this year, but interesting nonetheless and one that will appeal to genre fans and regular consumers.

We Are What We Are is not an entirely original concept either – it’s a remake of a Mexican tale from a few years back – but this March eOne release feels fresh and exciting. Its starting point may be the same as the central American original, but director Jim Mickle takes it off in a different direction. It was one of the last films to air at Film4 FrightFest, that kind of cachet is what will push consumer in its direction. The sleeve is certainly striking and eOne can make most forms of horror work, so expect this one to follow suit.

Screening just after We Are What We Are at FrightFest was Big Bad Wolves, one of the biggest hits of the weekend-long event. It’s from the same team behind Rabies, one of our favourite horror films we saw in 2013 (it’s released by Soda), Aharon Keshales and Navot Papushado. Big Bad Wolves, due from Metrodome at the end of April, is an equally ambitious affair, it often plays like a kind of blacker, more horrific take on Prisoners (eOne). It certainly cements their reputation as wonderfully inventive writer/directors, turning horror conventions on their heads. It has plenty going for it, from that FrightFest buzz through to the Quentin Tarantino seal of approval. This is almost certain to be on our best of list of physical releases come the end of the year – as it was on Tarantino’s – and it really could work beyond the genre market. Yes, it’s a foreign language Israeli horror, but it’s eminently commercial and really does deserve the support. One of those films that the entire trade should be getting behind…

We’ll end with something from the studios, Jackass Presents Bad Grandpa (Paramount). It’s not big, it’s not clever, but it’s a whole bunch of fun. The whole Jackass franchise has been a regular video hit, this should help give it a new lease of life and add to those impressive lifetime sales for the previous flicks and the TV series.