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New Releases for Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Freaks of Nature

Genre: Horror Directed by: Robbie Pickering Run time: 93 minutes Rating: R Format: Blu-Ray The Lowdown: Some movies just sound better on paper.

Case in point, Freaks of Nature, a high school-based fantasy that wants to invoke memories of John Hughes while cashing in on every current horror fad possible.

Dag is your typical high school misfit. He loves the girl who is out of his league. He gets bullied by the popular boys. And he’s abandoned his former friends because they’re too geeky.

Dag also happens to live in a fictional town where vampires attend school and zombies have been relegated to internment camps.

What follows is a pretty routine and sadly dumbed-down origin story about Dag learning his true destiny amid an impending alien invasion that forces the vampires and zombies to band together with the humans in order to survive.

Coming so soon on the heels of the funnier and superior “Scout’s Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse,” Freaks of Nature just suffers by comparison. Its humor is so low-brow that it literally scrapes by on tired clichés. The few attempts at actual character development fall flat and the horror elements are played more for laughs than scares.

I guess it’s admirable that such a mish-mash of a movie even got made in the first place – imagine if it was actually good – but far more care should have been invested in its story and structure to ensure Freaks of Nature didn’t just become another bargain bin title.

The Stuff You Care About: Hot chicks – Kind of. Nudity – No. Gore – Yes. Drug use – No. Bad Guys/Killers – Take your pick, vampires, zombies and aliens. Buy/Rent – Neither.

Crimson Peak (Universal, 119 minutes, R, Blu-Ray): Man, I used to love any release by Guillermo del Toro. Both “Hellboy” movies were spectacular realizations of one of my favorite characters. His Spanish-language films were top-notch spooky and ridiculously original. Then came “Pacific Rim” – giant robots battling giant monsters!! – and I was decidedly underwhelmed. I “liked” the movie, but I didn’t loooove the movie. Fair enough, every film can’t be a grand slam. But now comes Crimson Peak, a gothic ghost story, and once again I find myself wanting more. The story, in my opinion, suffers from far too much exposition. It takes nearly 30 minutes to reach the haunted mansion at the heart of del Toro’s story, and while the set itself is a resounding success and a testament to the magic of moviemaking, I found the early ghosts somewhat meh and, honestly, I fell asleep – twice! – just trying to get to the good stuff. That should not happen. Not with a movie by one of your favorite directors. Yet, it did, and now I’m faced with the prospect of going back to the well for a third attempt or simply shelving the disc and chalking it up to another missed opportunity from a true visionary.

Spectre (MGM, 148 minutes, PG-13, Blu-Ray): In the canon of James Bond films starring Daniel Craig, Spectre falls likely third on the list. It lacks the feverish pace and gritty realism of Craig’s introduction in “Casino Royale,” arguably the best Bond movie in two decades, and its efforts to fill in the blanks of Bond’s backstory don’t have the same urgency as “Skyfall.” In a way, it feels like the middle film of a trilogy, with the more spectacular conclusion still to come. Spectre does include, however, one of the best openings in recent Bond memory with a dizzy, pulse-pounding, expertly-staged battle over the streets of Mexico City. It’s definitely worth a watch or an addition

to your collection; it’s just not the be all, end all Bond that many people likely hoped for and wanted.

Also Available:

Mountain Men: The Rules of the Wild Have Changed 99 Homes Sheba, Baby American Horror Project, Vol. 1 Touched by an Angel: The Complete Series Grandma Love the Coopers Power Rangers Time Force: The Complete Series A Violent Life E.N.D. Red Krokodil Charles Bradley & Menahan Street Band – Live from The House of Soul The Dicks from Texas MI-5 Convergence Hangman The Leftovers: The Complete Second Season Marshland Sociopathia Paulette

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