On DVD & Blu-Ray: September 4, 2018


It's not difficult to appreciate the craft and attention to detail in first time feature director Ari Aster's Hereditary. What is difficult to appreciate is the narrative path Hereditary follows and how much it ultimately feels patched together in order to execute horror tropes that, in all honesty, it is too good for. There is one aspect of Hereditary that feels right at home exploring the continued ramifications and deep-seated issues that are passed from one generation to the next while being more than willing to take on and explore how family can really mess you up given the most extreme of circumstances, but there is another side to the film that wants to utilize this most extreme of family dramas to paint itself definitively into the horror genre and this is where the movie kind of falls apart. The upside to this is that Hereditary only begins to really become or at least fully embrace this unnecessary narrative evolution in the last fifteen to twenty minutes or so. Prior to this, Aster shrouds so much of what is actually going on in this questionable state of what might be happening and what is actually happening by building Toni Collette and her Annie's mental state to a point where her actions are in total question of reality. We're made aware of her family history and their bouts with depression and mental health issues very early while throughout the course of the film Annie experiences incredible and unthinkable traumas that would undoubtedly bring such issues to the forefront, but while the devolving security of Annie's mental state is what ultimately brings about the true, genuine horror in Hereditary it is also this avenue, this idea of how bad parents can mess up their children that is placed on the backburner in favor of the more genre-specific plot elements. It is something of a shame it's with this familiar bang that Hereditary decides to go out as it leaves something of the wrong impression on the audience given the majority of what comes before the final revelation is an unsettling more than it is scary exercise in pacing that boils each individual party to an intentionally uneven place of uncertainty, exhaustion, and just...pure misery. Hereditary is one of those movies that is easier to admire than it is to necessarily enjoy, but it seems Aster only ever meant to paint a portrait rather than entertain a mass. It's not difficult to appreciate the camera, sound design, and especially each of the very committed performances in Hereditary, but that this twisted dysfunctional family drama ends up being more dysfunctional than it does pure family drama leaves a simplicity to be desired. Full review here. B-

To properly assess Adrift, the latest lost in the wild adventure, it would seem the most logical thing to do is compare it to that of the wave of recent films with similar premises and or ideas with the main objective being to determine whether or not it does anything different or at least attempts to bring new ideas or layers to the experience. While Adrift doesn’t necessarily add anything new to the genre or say anything that hasn’t been said before it does stand to reason that no matter how similar the circumstances included in these stories of desperation and survival tend to be one is typically as harrowing as the next and, if executed in an effective enough fashion, will still hit all the necessary marks and retain enough suspense to be both entertaining as well as eye-opening. If Adrift is anything it is effective in its execution; this likely has to do with director Baltasar Kormákur's (2 Guns, Everest) experience in bringing these true to life, but often times gruesomely heartbreaking events to life in an honest, but completely cinematic fashion. Kormákur takes this based on actual events story (as most of these are) and intertwines the survival narrative with that of a blossoming love affair between two young/beautiful people that are unaware how much their wills and fresh love are about to be tested. As corny as that may sound or as cheap as that storytelling trick may seem, Kormákur somehow manages to pull it off with a certain level of credibility that lends the familiar beats a sense of urgency which is good as, if one is clued in at all, they will be able to see the plot devices at work. This potentially undercuts what Kormákur and screenwriting team the Kandell brothers (Jordan and Aaron) are counting on as the emotional anchor (pun totally intended) they pull out from under the audience at the beginning of the third act. Fortunately, Adrift still works no matter your disposition thus leaving the overall impression the film leaves to once again rely on how effectively what we as an audience have been trained to know is coming is conveyed. In the tradition of films where people are stranded and left to contemplate the meaning of their now-seeming small existence in relation to the expanded world around them Adrift ranks somewhere a bit below Life of Pi and a fair amount above that of last year’s The Mountain Between Us. Full review here. B-

Morgan Neville's follow-up to his fascinating 20 Feet from Stardom is an exploration of the life, lessons, and legacy of iconic children's television host, Fred Rogers. In Won't You Be My Neighbor, Neville can’t help but to make audiences feel as if we've all let Mr. Rogers down. Like, big time. We have to do something to correct this. B













Writer/directors Jeremy Dyson and Andy Nyman's anthology of creepy supernatural tales titled Ghost Stories follows a skeptical professor who embarks on a trip into the terrifying after finding a file with details of three unexplained cases of apparitions.














Michael Pearce's feature directorial debut, Beast, starring Geraldine James, Jessie Buckley, and Johnny Flynn follows a troubled woman living in an isolated community who finds herself pulled between the control of her oppressive family and the allure of a secretive outsider suspected of a series of brutal murders.