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New Releases for Tuesday, February 2, 2016

February 2, 2016

 

Uncaged

Genre: Horror
Directed by: Daniel Robbins
Run time: 95 minutes
Rating: Unrated
Format: DVD
The Lowdown: Uncaged, the second unexpectedly strong, consistently solid werewolf film to be

released in less than a month, won’t make you forget the genre classics that define the best
lycanthrope movies ever made.


But what it will do is make you appreciate every staple that defines the best B-grade, drive-in,
throw everything plus the kitchen sink into the mix movies that defy classification and exist outside
of normal film conventions.


In short, Uncaged should have been called “Unhinged” for all the twists and turns, surreal
subplots, bizarre character details and downright loopy choices that director and co-writer Daniel
Robbins makes in crafting what might possibly be the first ever
werewolf origin/blacksploitation/coming-of-age drama/teen sex comedy of its kind.


Seriously, this movie is nuts. Plain and simple. And god love it for that fact.


It defies explanation how Robbins, in just his second feature film, manages to connect the dots in a
plausible way between the following subplots:


1 – Jack, on his 18th birthday, learns the truth about his family lineage, and suffice to say, it’s a
hairy ordeal.


2 – Turner, one of Jack’s friends, who becomes more like Jack’s arch-nemesis, who also likes to Go-
Pro film his sexual escapades with vapid blondes he meets online, commits cold-blooded murder
and somehow believes himself to be the righteous judge of Jack’s newfound heritage.

 

3 – Brandon, the requisite geeky buddy, explores his sexuality in a series of hilarious vignettes
whereby he over-shares his confounding feelings, all while consumed with losing his virginity.

 

4 – Rose, the wife of a low-level crime boss, witnesses a brutal attack while leaving a tryst, and is
forced to confront the unexpected consequences of her affair.

 

5 – Gonzo, the low-level crime boss with a penchant for top-shelf scotch, who comes off like a
modern-day interpretation of Dolemite,as performed by Keith David, embarks on a bloody mission
to learn the truth about the attack his wife witnessed.

 

6 – Jack’s mom, Jenny, and his uncle Mike, who are possibly part of a shadowy underground
werewolf organization, try to help Jack preparefor his first transformation by leaving well-placed
clues and assistance until an ill-fated meeting with Turner and his shotgun.


Like I said, Uncaged has no right to be as linear as it is with so much going on and so many
ridiculously convoluted plot threads to somehow tie together in a tight knot.


But it does, and it is. And as a result, viewers are treated to some absolutely bonkers moments,
such as a taunt dinner party where Gonzo treats his crime crew, his wife, Jack, Turner and Brandon,
to his family’s secret recipe for tapenade, while Rose tries to convince Jack to kill Gonzo with a
butcher knife and Brandon flirts with one of Gonzo’s henchmen.


Or the torture-gone-wrong interrogation of Jack by Gonzo and his henchmen that inadvertently
summons the beast within.

 

Or the white-knuckle meeting between Jack and Turner in front of Rose who is strapped to a chair
with a Go-Pro camera set to record Turner exposing his former friend for being a monster.


Uncaged might be a shaggy dog when it comes to the filmmaking fundamentals that typically
identify a well-made movie, but it’s exactly those frayed edges and weird flourishes that set it
apart.


It’s such a pleasant surprise to find yourself completely floored by a filmmaker’s bravado and hubris
in trying to jam-pack every possible genre staple into one movie.


Sure, you may find yourself shouting at the screen throughout as more and more plot details
appear abandoned and unresolved for too-long stretches of time, but rest assured, everything is
resolved in the end, and in a way that actually propels the narrative on an organic journey
to “Uncaged 2,” should the sequel ever be made.


Here’s hoping it does get made because I’m betting there’s a lot more backstory to several of these
characters than even Robbins couldn't find the screen time this go-round to explore.


The Stuff You Care About:
Hot Chicks – Yes.
Nudity – Yes.

Gore – Yes.
Drug use – Yes.
Bad Guys/Killers – Werewolves, man, werewolves!
Buy/Rent – Buy it.


Martyrs (Anchor Bay, 86 minutes, Unrated, Blu-Ray): In 2009, I absently placed a new French
import titled “Martyrs,” by director Pascal Laugier, into my DVD player. Within minutes, I was
hooked. It was brilliant, violent and unrelenting, with a stunningly powerful conclusion open to
interpretation that stuck with me for days. To remake such a movie would be a Herculean challenge,
and directors Kevin and Michael Goetz, with writer Mark L. Smith, have given their best to this
faithful American update. While it lacks the sensory-shocking verve of the original, that rapturous
joy of discovery and surprise, it’s not a quickie knockoff designed solely to make money. The Goetz
brothers sincerely try to extract the religious and moral undertones of the story in a way
that doesn’t pander to its audience. There are no easy answers provided, despite the addition of
more back story for the captors and zealots seeking the highest form of knowledge possible. It’s a
laudable effort, even if it fails to reach the same dizzying heights. In fairness, nothing could match
the original. I recommend people watch both this remake and the original to form their
own opinion.


Hellions (Shout! Factory, 80 minutes, Unrated, Blu-Ray): If not for the fact that director Bruce
McDonald made “Pontypool,” the brilliantly restrained 2008 zombie thriller told from the tight

confines of a radio soundbooth, I might be more inclined to thoroughly trounce this weird and
incoherent ramble about demon spawn and a pregnant teenage girl. But I’m giving McDonald
apass, in part, because Hellions is so firmly fixed on its visual aesthetics that even when the
action onscreen is nearly indecipherable, it’s still captivating to watch with its sepia-tinged color
palette, rapid-fire editing cuts and blurred dissolves. That doesn’t mean it makes a lick of sense.
Not one iota. Not even the great genre veteran Robert Patrick can salvage the mish-mash of a story
that seems better suited as a 20-minute vignette in a Halloween anthology than a bloated 80-
minute feature that sadly runs out of steam long before its credits roll.


The World of Kanako (Cinedigm/Drafthouse, 119 minutes, Unrated,Blu-Ray): The World of
Kanako is a massive head-screw of blood-soaked, epic familial revelations. This is seriously one of
the best thrillers to parachute into the U.S. in years. It’s near non-stop smorgasbord of uberviolence
and surrealistic imagery will keep you reeling until its sucker-punch finale hits you
straight in the chest, removing all air from your lungs and the room. Go, now, and watch.


All Hallow’s Eve 2 (Image Entertainment/RLJ, 91 minutes,Unrated, DVD): I’m all for horror
anthologies, especially ones that use Halloween as a jumping off point, but this low-budget,
wannabe “Trick ‘r Treat” spends too much time unspooling half-baked stories about killer pumpkins
and shadowy demons and not enough time trying to be original and, you know, scary.


The Piper (CJ Entertainment, 119 minutes, PG-13, DVD): This eerie import owes a large debt to the
works of Guillermo Del Toro with its creepy, slow-burn story about a traveling piper and his sickly
son who stumble upon an isolated village that believes the rest of humanity has been vaporized by
war.


Zombie Fight Club (Shout! Factory, 95 minutes, Unrated,Blu-Ray): Imagine “The Raid:
Redemption” with zombies, and you’ve basically got Zombie Fight Club, a nothing-new zombie
apocalypse thriller that presumes the end of humanity will come from a batch of tainted bath salts.
Here’s the problem I had – for a movie that promises a “Zombie Fight Club,” a literal battle royale
between the living and the undead, why in the hell did the creators wait nearly 80 minutes to
finally make the premise reality?


Also Available:
 

Bridge of Spies
The Man from U.N.C.L.E.: The Complete Second Season
Estranged
Big Stone Gap
Freeheld
Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet
Suffragette

The Lizzie Borden Chronicles
Our Brand is Crisis
The Rise of the Krays
Fight to the Finish
Ladrones
Born to Win
The Last Witch Hunter
Man Up
Truth
From Dusk Till Dawn: Season Two
The Land Before Time: Journey of the Brave
Home Invasion
Extraordinary Tales
My Boyfriends’ Dogs
For Better or For Worse
Noah’s Ark
Take Me to the River
Meadowland
Rock the Kasbah

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