The other V/H/S films seem to go for an aesthetic or attempted to wrap things up in a neat bowtie whereas the latest installation appears to throw whatever they feel like against the wall. They don’t care if it sticks. They don’t even care if it makes sense. I noticed several instances where the film broke it’s own found footage rules, but I also sensed the intentionality of it.
Overall, V/H/S 99 understands 90s horror. It understands that the best parts of that decade are overshadowed by the sum of equally bad films and those bad films have become guilty pleasures despite their flaws.
V/H/S 99 is the nu-metal of the franchise, you either love it for it’s nonsensical immaturity or hate it for that reason. The film gladly says “fuck it,” and plays out like Woodstock 99, a glorious shit show that breaks norms in a bonkers found footage feast of gory practical effects. – J.W.
Beyond the Dream
Not to be confused with Kiwi Chow’s nuanced psychodrama of the same name, Beyond the Dream is a wondrous documentary that explores the gift of giving back – or paying it forward.
Chris Hannah’s film fixes on a couple of teachers who, keen to give back to their hometown and help local youngsters, get kids ready to apply for colleges. Think Stand & Deliver but without the studio-infused beats and Oscar-prepped performances – this is the real deal.
What an engrossing, informative watch. There are insightful and memorable documentaries, they come along quite regularly, but Beyond the Dream is on another level – it’s not just an enjoyable lesson, it’s a motivational tool. – CC
Top Gun : Maverick (Blu-Ray)
Packed with wall -to-wall action, “Top Gun: Maverick” finds, well, Maverick, back as an instructor at the Fighter Pilot Training School, where he is asked to get 16 of the best pilots ready for a mission. He balks at first at the assignment, stating his preference to be a part of the mission itself, but is told in no uncertain terms by his commander (Jon Hamm) that he’s just there to train and evaluate. However, things get a little more difficult when he learns that one of the students, call sign Rooster (Miles Teller), is the son of Maverick’s late friend Goose, a young man who blames Maverick for many things, including, of course, the death of his father. Can you say tension?
Combining several familiar themes from the first film, with an amazing amount of aerial action, Top Gun: Maverick delivers the goods. Cruise is his usual cocky self, and that self-assurance is multiplied several times by the assortment of hot shot pilots he is given to mentor. Teller, who bears an uncanny resemblance to the young Goose, plays a young man who should be confident of his skills but isn’t, causing him to hesitate at times he shouldn’t. Jennifer Connelly is Maverick’s love interest this time around, playing – if my memory serves me – the daughter of a former Admiral – a daughter that Maverick may or may not have taken advantage of. Jon Hamm and Ed Harris are well cast as the authority figures that just don’t seem to understand Maverick’s ways and it’s a genuine treat to see Val Kilmer back on the big screen. Director Joseph Kosinski keeps the film moving at a rapid pace, while the aerial action is downright dizzying.
The Top Gun : Maverick Blu-ray is – though I’d recommend going the 4K over the Blu-ray if you can afford to shell out a few more bucks – pure gold. Coupled with features and music videos for the film’s main two movie tracks, this well-presented disc will no doubt get a good work-out in many a player this fourth quarter. – M.S
Yellowstone : Season Four (DVD)
Most shows seem to run out of seem fourth season in – why then has the Kevin Costner crafted Yellowstone not only maintained it’s must-watch status and week-by-week compel?
A slow simmer seems to be the show’s special ingredient, keeping proceedings at a cool, slow build over the course of it’s 39 episodes, as opposed to tossing in a writer’s room full of ideas over the first couple of seasons. This fourth season, with highlights including Jamie’s turncoat move on the family and the triumphant turnaround of cowboy grad Jimmy, is no more thrilling than the show’s groundbreaking pilot. 10 episodes of the best series on TV await you on DVD. – CC
Where heftier, pricier, and flashier A-list genre vehicles have crossed similar terrain, Paramount+’s Significant Other nails the ‘is it all in their head?’ sub-genre where films like Annihilation have missed the target.
A simmering cocktail of thrills, drama, and sci-fi, all painted into the backdrop of the beautiful Pacific Northwest, frequent collaborators Dan Berk and Robert Olsen‘s genre-crossing two-hander fixes on a couple whose trek through the wilderness takes a dramatic, scary turn when one of them starts to behave odder than odd. As Ruth (Maiko Monroe) continues to pop her pills, whatever they might be for, partner Harry (Jake Lacy) slowly transitions into Jack Torrance – stalking his beloved like she’s tasty meat on a skewer. – K.T
Demons at Dawn
Not to be confused with a Romero flick, this British supernatural drama may disguise itself as an Exorcist-like romp but it’s much more Exorcist III.
Headlining a relatively unknown cast, Ben Silver anchors the film with a subdued but fervently thorough performance as hitman Mickey, a Murtaugh-like-worn gun-for-hire that’s agreed-upon last gig takes him into unacquainted territory.
If the P.A.G.A.N storyline from Dragnet (1987) had taken a more supernatural turn from the moment Hanks and Aykroyd rescued damsel in distress Alexandra Paul from the satanic cult, it might have played out like this. Silly comparison, yes, but swap the genre – you get the idea.
Director Chris Sanders has a knack for squeezing every ounce of suspense from the frame, getting credible performances from its cast, and a stinger that’s kept under wraps until it’s fourth quarter – something Tom Mankiewicz could never have pulled of (sorry Tom!). Well worth a watch. – K.T
Star Trek VI : The Undiscovered Country (4K)
When folks talk ‘best Trek movie’, and they don’t often because the answer has essentially been part of the school curriculum since Wrath of Khan’s release in 1982, Nicholas Meyer’s Star Trek XI : the Undiscovered Country is usually part of the conversation. Not as memorable as his earlier Trek (he Khan), and without that film’s grandesque finale and goosebumpy emotional beats, the long-running franchise’s sixth film entry is still a bonafide winner in it’s own right.
With it’s terrifically crafted libretto, award-worthy performances (Christopher Plummer is an absolute killer here), and the introduction of a welcome ‘whodunit’ element to the series, it’s Trek in Rashomon–Holmes territory, complete with the trademark action-adventure beats that have helped Trek maintain it’s staying power over the years.
The 4k looks and sounds absolutely beautiful – the soundtrack particularly spurring sonic-boom when output through a home theater system. This is well worth the ticket price. – CC