“The Lion King” is still one of the most entertaining movie going experiences of my life and one of the most moving animated films I’ve ever seen. With the anticipation of the live action remake growing, Disney has granted fans a new release with their Signature Edition. This new edition packs in the DVD, a Digital copy, and of course the new Blu-Ray with changes that are interesting and more geared toward meticulous hardcore fans of the film more than anything. It’s certainly worth a double or triple dip, especially if it’s your favorite of the Disney animated library (and on your top ten), as it is mine.
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Lights Out (2016) [Blu-Ray/Digital]
For three years, David F. Sandberg’s short horror film “Lights Out” rocked the internet and became a viral hit. It was a very short and to the point film with excellent framing, brilliant editing, and a shocker of a surprise ending. After years as a viral hit, we’re given the full length adaptation of “Lights Out,” which is a pretty great extension of the terror that Sandberg spreads out for his audience. Thankfully while the spirit of the original film is kept in tact (with the original star making a welcome walk on appearance), “Lights Out” is transformed in to a complex and wrenching horror film about mental illness, abandonment, and family. I was a bit hesitant to believe “Lights Out” could be expanded in to a feature length film but while it isn’t perfect, it’s a damn good horror film with some genuinely dynamite moments.
The Last Man on Earth (1964)
Currently on the public domain hit list, “The Last Man on Earth” is one of the first and finest adaptations of “I Am Legend” that while not perfect, is infinitely better than most of the successors to follow. Set in 1968, Robert Morgan is a doctor who finds society at the mercy of a mysterious plague. Everyone in the world is gradually dying out from this disease, and he soon discovers that those who die inevitably return from the dead. Unless burned, the bodies will re-animate and look for the closest blood source. Cue director Ubaldo Ragona’s awfully gruesome imagery of a humongous pit of fire where bodies of the recently deceased have been dumped to burn.
Lake Nowhere (2016)
I don’t know if I’d called Maxim Van Scoy, and Christopher Phelps’s “Lake Nowhere” a masterpiece, but I have to say that the more it unfolded, I appreciated its enthusiasm more than anything. It wants to deliver a genuinely retro horror experience, and by god it succeeds most of the time. I’m not completely bowled over, though, as “Lake Nowhere” is really only fifty minutes in length. Five of those minutes are devoted to some faux horror movie trailers you’d find in front of a cheap horror VHS.
Level Up (2016)
A group of masked thugs grab Matt and tell him to do as they say or he’ll never see his girlfriend Anna again. As they give him orders by text message, Matt is pushed to see how far he’s ready to go to save the woman he loves. Based on an original idea by Andrew Orr, written by Adam Randall and Gary Young, and directed by Randall, the film is like a type of scavenger hunt/chase through London through which the lead learns about his tormentors and about himself. The bad guys created here are never really explained. The chase the film creates is interesting and how the lead deals with everything thrown at him is in a realistic manner while keeping the attention of the viewer.
Let Her Out (2016) [FrightFest 2016]
After Helen, a bike messenger, gets hit by a car, she awakens in the hospital and soon finds herself haunted and taunted by her twin who she absorbed during her development in utero. As Helen seems to lose her mind more and more, her evil twin makes more and more appearances and damage. Or does she? Written by Adam Seybold based on a story by himself and director Cody Calahan, the film explores the evil twin subject in an interesting manner as the viewer is almost never sure if it’s a twin, a ghost, a possession, or simply mental issues that are causing all the mayhem.
Lost Solace (2016) [FrightFest 2016]
Spence is a sociopath who preys on rich women in their times of need. He starts off as the absolute perfect boyfriend, the man most women want: He’s romantic, thoughtful, takes charge when needed, helpful, and he’s good looking. In reality, he’s cold, calculated, doesn’t care about anyone, he’s a sociopath. After he meets his new mark Azaria, he gets in deeper than usual with her family as his health takes a bad turn.
After breaking down on the side of the road and tossing his phone, a man finds a dying dog. Giving the dog some water grants him a wish. Director Will Blank co-wrote with Richard Kapones and they adapted the story from a comic strip by Marian Churchland to create a story that resonates on many levels. The story they build here seems simple at first, but as it advances and the lead thinks of what he wants to wish for, it makes the viewer think about what they would wish for and why. The film may be short but it doesn’t lose any of its story’s effectiveness.