Movie News & Reviews

New on DVD Oct 27: ‘The Gift’ good for creepy scares and more

Joel Edgerton wrote, directed and stars in “The Gift.”
Joel Edgerton wrote, directed and stars in “The Gift.” STX Productions

There are a few real gifts among this week’s new DVD releases.

“The Gift” Grade : This is old-fashioned in the way it conjures up scares. It’s filled with creepy characters, who are one emotional jolt from going over the edge, scares that come from psychological twists and more plot curves than in a major-league baseball game.

It doesn’t rely on the loud orchestration of a creepy soundtrack, bloody images or ghastly scenarios to move the audience. Its Hitchcockian approach creates tension and scares. You won’t go running from the theater, but you will look at the person sitting next to you in a very different way.

First-time director and writer Joel Edgerton establishes a normal setting to unleash his deeply complicated character study.

“Max” Grade 1/2: Director Boaz Yakin – along with his co-writer, Sheldon Lettich – was already halfway to a solid family film by making a boy and his dog the central theme of “Max,” which tells the story of a family who takes in a military dog traumatized after a tragedy.

You have to be pretty cold-hearted not to get pulled into the concept.

What can make this idea better or worse is how well the director brings the story to life. In the case of “Max,” Yakin sniffs out elements that win over viewers even more. But he also has some moments that feel like a walk through the backyard barefoot where a big dog lives.

“Downton Abbey Seasons 1, 2, 3, 4 & 5” Grade : The first five seasons are available on DVD and Blu-ray. This will get you ready for the sixth and final season coming soon.

The series is marvelously acted by Hugh Bonneville, Elizabeth McGovern, Michelle Dockery and Maggie Smith. They bring to life a compelling story of love, death and loss set against a calm English countryside.

Also new on DVD Oct. 27

▪ “Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries 3”: Essie Davis plays the stylish lady detective.

▪ “My Fair Lady: 50th Anniversary Edition”: To mark the anniversary, a remastered version of the musical is being released.

▪ “Army of Darkness”: The collector’s edition is being released just before the launch of the TV series “Ash vs. the Evil Dead.”

▪ “Masterpiece: Home Fires”: Women in an English village face the onset of World War II.

▪ “The Horror Network”: Terror tales from Brian Dorton, Douglas Conner and others.

▪ “The Human Centipede: The Complete Sequence”: Includes the three films in the horror series.

▪ “Barbie and Her Sisters: The Great Puppy Adventure”: Barbie and her friends face unexpected mysteries.

▪ “Food Forward”: Production follows innovators and pioneers who are transforming the way we grow and eat our food.

▪ “The American Dream Machine”: Irreverent weekly variety show that aired from 1971-72.

▪ “Special Effects Collection”: Four films in the set include “Son of Kong,” “Mighty Joe Young,” “The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms” and “Them!”

▪ “Nova: Nuclear Meltdown Disaster”: Reveals the minute-by-minute story of the Fukushima nuclear crisis.

▪ “Spartacus: Restored Edition”: The film is being released in a remastered version to mark the 55th anniversary.

▪ “Billy Elliot: The Musical Live”: Production was filmed at the Victoria Palace Theatre in London.

▪ “Hidden”: Alexander Skarsgard stars in this thriller about a family being threatened by something strange.

Rick Bentley: 559-441-6355, @RickBentley1