At Home: The Dropout, Scream, Ted K, Pan’s Labyrinth, After the Pandemic

Capusle reviews of films and TV series currently available on streaming platforms and digital


Digital. Fifth time’s the charm as OG trio Neve Campbell, David Arquette and Courteney Cox go head-to-head with the telephone-spruiking ‘Ghostface’ again. This time.

Like Wes Craven’s original – and to an extent, “Scream 2” and “Scream 4” (less said about “Scream 3” the better) – while the tale at play may seem like any other studio-financed slasher flick, the delight is in the details. At times the plot of Radio Silence’s (that’s the unit the filmmakers’ credit themselves as) revival resembles Craven’s first “Scream” but it’s for good reason – there’s intention behind those recycled moments, resulting in a zinger of a punchline.  Maybe more than ever, the movie is motivated more by commentary on where the film industry and fan communities are now less than it is doing something new. You also can’t change the template of a “Scream” movie too much anyway – and not just because the films must play out not unlike any other slasher film, but because the audience now expects to see certain moments. [CC]

The Dropout

Digital. Amanda Seyfried immerses herself – deep-voice to boot – in the role of disgraced Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes in the new limited series “The Dropout”.

Over the course of eight episodes, creator Elizabeth Meriweather (‘New Girl’) and director Michael Showalter (‘The Big Sick’) offer up a welcomingly absurd and compelling look at the sudden rise, and just as quick fall, of a woman who was convicted of defrauding investors out of millions in an elaborate scheme motivated purely out of a need to be famous.

While “The Dropout” does arguably depict Holmes as more of a delusional wannabe than a crook driven by malice, it’s perfect blend of history and humour effortlessly holds attention.

Look for a terrific supporting turn by Laurie Metcalf, in what’s one of her best parts in years. [CC]


Ted K

Digital. Blossoming with atmosphere and coupled with a tone that bubbles deliberately until a not unexpected but effective swelling, Tony Stone‘s depiction on Unabomber Kaczynksi’s is one of the month’s most unique and uncompromising films.

Set a couple of years out from his arrest, Kaczynksi (Sharlto Copley) is living in the Montana mountains, and off-the-grid, sidestepping modern-technology on a demented plight to rid the world of -who he saw – as its villains. Over a mail-bombing campaign lasting from 1978 to 1995, the former turned recluse killed three and people injured 22 more, before a published manifesto leads to his capture.

If the unhurried tone and lack of action of the film deter, then see it for Sharlto Copley’s commanding performance as Ted K – he’s a revelation. [CC]


After the Pandemic

Digital. While the untimely-sounding “After the Pandemic” might sound like a serious, post-apocalyptic piece it’s more one for the ‘beer and pizza’ crowd. Directed by genre staple Rico Lowry, this effortlessly enjoyable chronicles a couple of survivors in a Mad Max-style wasteland that live to avoid the villainous ‘Stalkers’.

More ‘Mad Max’ than ‘Mad Max II’ – if only because they likely had the same kind of budget – this is a forgettable but admirable, and unarguably entertaining piece that will easily fill in a couple of hours after you watch a re-run of the Huskers vs the Braves game this weekend. [ML]


Pan’s Labyrinth [Umbrella Beyond Genres Ed]

Blu-ray. Del Toro’s wonderful ghost story “The Devil’s Backbone” wove together natural and supernatural horrors in a similar way, but “Pan’s Labyrinth” is a much more soulful piece of work, a multi-faceted look at how dreams and desires can be both liberating and corrupting.

Something of a masterpiece in terms of its vision and insight, and how it presents a grim reality viewed through the prism of a child’s unfettered imagination, this is a must-see film.

The child is Ofelia (gifted newcomer Ivana Baquero), who is travelling with her heavily pregnant mother to a military outpost in the Spanish mountains during the country’s civil war in the 1940s.

Ofelia’s stepfather, Vidal (Sergi Lopez), is a cold-hearted army officer with only two desires – he wants to wipe out the rebels in the mountains surrounding his base and he wants Ofelia’s mother to bear him a son. He barely cares about Ofelia’s mother; he certainly has no interest in Ofelia herself.

As the fascist forces and the rebels clash, Ofelia finds herself visited in the night by a talking faun who claims that she is actually an exiled princess from a magical underground kingdom.

Umbrella’s newly re-issued “Pan’s Labyrinth” on Blu-ray features a beautiful 1:771:1 and 1080p Transfer complete with a speaker-pleasing DTS soundtrack. Extras, many of which can be found on previous versions, include commentary by Guillermo Del Toro, several featurettes, storyboards, prequel comics, and trailers.

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