Sometimes it’s a dilemma: what DVD should you rent or what movie should you stream or order-on-demand? Do you want a date flick, an action caper, or a goofy comedy? Weekly Surge is here to help with our reviews of recent at-home movie releases, which we’ve watched from the comfort of that favorite recliner. This week we’ve vetted a ghoulish selection if you’re in the mood for a Halloweekend macabre movie marathon.
“Deliver Us From Evil”
Supposedly based on actual events, the film is actually an original script with one character based on a real NYPD detective. Writer/director Scott Derrickson has quite the acumen for capturing creepy with “Sinister” and “The Exorcism of Emily Rose” under his belt. Eric Bana plays the detective with radar for the occult. Joel McHale plays his wisecracking partner. It’s half cop procedural, half demon possession. The duality builds characters and tension without relying on religious dogma or cop clichés alone. Quality actors make up the cast, making it gritty yet polished. Deliver this one to your TV – worth a watch.
“The Quiet Ones”
This one is all about time. Set in 1974, this English possession tale feels like it’s missing something. Completed in 2012, it sat on a shelf until this year. Minutes of the movie were cut, taking away all the bloody tension and grimy parts to get it down to a PG-13 rating. Writer Craig Rosenberg’s last movie, “The Uninvited,” has all the eeriness and suspense that this movie lacks. Director John Pogue’s last movie, “Quarantine 2: Terminal,” was more pointless than this one, but not by much. Don’t waste your time – pass.
Young actress Olivia Cooke is making an early career out of horror and suspense films. She’s in the aforementioned “The Quiet Ones.” She also stars in the recently theatrical release, “Ouija,” and her day-job is A&E’s “Bates Motel.” Here, she teams up with other up-and-comers Brenton Thwaites and Beau Knapp - three young people caught in the wrong place at the wrong time. It’s a weird film. Every scene gets weirder. And just when you think it’s going to devolve into bizarre chaos, a story comes together in all the weirdness. It’s a twisty sci-fi suspense thriller and worth a watch.
“The Purge: Anarchy”
A year after “The Purge” comes a sequel, and in case you didn’t see the mediocre prequel, the story goes like this – people save up all their crime and malcontent to unleash it once a year on Purge Night when the new government allows anything to happen. Writer/director James DeMonaco returns, and will be bringing you a third installment next year in this trilogy. At times, this is a superior film to its predecessor. Violent mayhem replaces tension. The experienced actors of the first film are missed. Then bullets fly, and we forget about them until the actors start talking – barely worth a watch.
Borrowing heavily from the real life Jonestown Massacres of the late ‘70s, only this film is set in the present day as Internet journalists venture into a strange cult in South America. It takes a shaky cam approach, and some witty moves are made with the format. It’s too bad the script feels yanked from the Jonestown Wikipedia page, attached to some heavy-handed dialogue and delivered with B-movie zest. It’s a bit of a letdown for promising filmmaker Ti West. But West does keep the creep level constant and the cultish doom keeps it interesting, making this offering barely worth a watch.
Derrick Bracey, for Weekly Surge