Aaron Eckhart stars as a doctor able to enter the subconscious minds of possessed patients in this week’s Incarnate, a new take on the old exorcism story. And in this week’s 24 Frames gallery, we give our take on the best and worst exorcism horror movies by Tomatometer. Before we start, some règle de jeu: there are no comedies or non-horrors listed, and only movies with at least 20 reviews qualify. Got it? Good. God help us.
There aren’t many big new releases available this week on home video, but we’ve at least got one seasonally appropriate release (Deliver Us from Evil), along with a well-received indie dramedy and a handful of smaller films. In addition, we’ve got the complete series of a classic sitcom and a couple of noteworthy releases from the Criterion Collection, including a Jacques Tati compilation. Read on for details:
Scott Derrickson has recently chalked up a number of scary movies as writer and/or director, including 2005’s The Exorcism of Emily Rose, 2012’s Sinister, and Devil’s Knot, which premiered earlier this year. Sinister is his best reviewed work thus far, and his latest offering, Deliver Us from Evil, posed no threat to that title. Eric Bana stars as a police officer named Ralph Sarchie who begins investigating a series of mysterious crimes that all seem to be linked. As he digs deeper, he uncovers the supernatural cause of the city’s strange occurrences and teams up with a local priest to fight it. Critics agreed that Derrickson got some mileage out of his knack for chilly atmosphere, but also felt the film unwisely relied on overly familiar scare tactics, resulting in a mediocre 28 percent Tomatometer score. Special features include a commentary track, a profile of the real life Ralph Sarchie, whose experiences inspired the film, and a few making-of featurettes.
Back in 2007, director (and former bassist for Irish band The Frames) John Carney scored a surprise indie hit with Once, a thoughtful, melancholy drama about two musicians who share a brief time together. This year, he brought us Begin Again, another story about a pair of musical souls who meet, connect, and make music, but with a lighter touch. Keira Knightley is struggling and newly single songwriter Gretta, who impresses record exec Dan (Mark Ruffalo) so much that he signs her to his label. Faced with opposition from his partner (Mos Def), Dan suggests he and Gretta record her album independently, and the two begin an unlikely friendship. Begin Again was Certified Fresh by the critics at 82 percent; though many felt the film didn’t quite hit the high notes of Once, they were charmed by the chemistry between Knightley and Ruffalo. The only two special features available are a making-of doc and a few music videos, including co-star Adam Levine’s rendition of one of the film’s songs, “Lost Stars.”
Also available this week:
Life of Crime (66 percent), starring Jennifer Aniston and Will Forte in an ensemble caper comedy about a kidnapping gone awry when the corrupt land developer being squeezed decides he’d rather not pay the ransom.
Zach Braff’s famously crowd-funded Wish I Was Here (46 percent), starring Braff and Kate Hudson in a dramedy about a thirtysomething man coming to grips with his adult life.
James Franco’s Child of God (37 percent), starring Scott Haze and Tim Blake Nelson in an adaptation of the Cormac McCarthy novel about a Tennessee man whose life misfortune isolates him from society.
Good People (12 percent), starring James Franco and Kate Hudson in a thriller about a couple in debt who discover a bag of cash and keep it, running afoul of the thief who stole it in the first place.
The Prince (0 percent), starring Bruce Willis and John Cusack in a thriller about a retired assassin who jumps back into action when his daughter is kidnapped by his old rival.
Shout! Factory is releasing the Complete Series of WKRP in Cincinnati for all you fans of classic sitcoms. The Emmy-nominated series, which ran from 1978-1982 and followed the eccentric staff at a struggling radio station, aired successfully in syndication for years after its cancellation.
And lastly, two rereleases from the Criterion Collection: George Sluizer’s 1988 thriller The Vanishing (100 percent) is available in a new DVD and Blu-ray; and a DVD and Blu-ray box set of The Complete Jacques Tati, which contains all six of the French director’s films, including Monsieur Hulot’s Holiday (100 percent) and Playtime (100 percent), as well as seven of his short films and a ton of special features.
Ep. 026 – New movies, Joel McHale, Susan Sarandon, Chaz Ebert
A big show for Independence Day! RT Editor in Chief Matt Atchity, Grae Drake and Sarah Ricard share critics’ reactions to Tammy, Earth to Echo, and Deliver Us from Evil. Grae shares interviews she held with Tammy stars Susan Sarandon, Gary Cole, Mark Duplass and writer/director Ben Falcone, plus another round of interviews with Deliver Us from Evil stars Joel McHale and Olivia Munn. Then Matt has an extended interview with Chaz Ebert and director Steve James where they discuss Roger Ebert and the new documentary about him Life Itself.
Since her breakthrough performance in Bridesmaids, funny-woman Melissa McCarthy has secured her spot as a leading lady of comedy. In Tammy, which she co-wrote with her husband (and director) Ben Falcone, McCarthy plays a down-on-her-luck woman-child who wrecks her car, loses her job, and discovers her husband is cheating on her — and that’s just in the first 15 minutes. With her profane, beer-swillin’ grandma (Susan Sarandon) in tow, Tammy heads out on a road trip to Niagara Falls, setting the tone for the mishaps to follow by driving south instead of north in Grandma Pearl’s boat-sized Caddy. Critics say that McCarthy’s all-in performance is not enough to elevate what feels like a comedy sketch that accidentally veers into sad territory.
If it weren’t for the tireless efforts of kids everywhere, how would aliens ever get back to their home planets? In Earth to Echo, a group of three precocious boys — Alex (Teo Halm), Tuck (Brian “Astro” Bradley), and Munch (Reese Hartwig) — find their smartphones have gone kerflooey and investigate the source of the problem. They discover a small, adorable, owl-like robot from another planet who they nickname “Echo.” Along with their classmate Emma (Ella Linnea Wahlestedt), Alex, Tuck, and Munch embark on a coming-of-age journey which is part trying to return Echo to his home planet, and part trying to save their home, a Nevada town threatened by a sinister construction company. Pundits say Earth to Echo is too derivative of the 1980s films which inspire it to feel fresh, though children will no doubt find Echo and his adventures delightful.
In Deliver Us From Evil, the latest film from Scott Derrickson (Sinister, The Exorcism of Emily Rose), Ralph Sarchie (Eric Bana), a tough-as-nails NYPD sergeant, investigates a series of creepy occurrences in the Bronx. In spite of having near-clairvoyant abilities himself, Sarchie is skeptical that the chilling events in New York City’s basements and zoos might have something to do with the supernatural. Still, he joins forces with Joe Mendoza (Edgar Ramírez), an unconventional Catholic priest, who believes that the horrors of Sarchie’s investigations are really the work of the devil. Pundits say that Deliver Us From Evil is too silly to be scary, and too cliched to work as a police drama.
Also opening this week in limited release:
Life Itself, a documentary about the life of Roger Ebert, is at 98 percent.
Wrinkles, an animated comedy voiced by Martin Sheen and George Coe as residents of a nursing home, is at 100 percent.
Gabrielle, a drama about a gifted-yet-disabled musician living in a group home, is at 94 percent.
Marius, a French dramedy about a seaside romance, is at 67 percent.
Me and You, Bernardo Bertolucci’s drama about a quirky 14-year-old loner, is at 65 percent.
Beyond the Edge, a documentary about the first men to summit Mt. Everest, is at 64 percent.
Premature, a comedy about a high-school re-living the same day over and over again, is at 60 percent.
America, a documentary that imagines if the United States had lost the Revolutionary War, is at 25 percent.
Deliver Us From Evil stars Eric Bana and Joel McHale as New York cops fighting an unseen force in their town. McHale is particularly well-prepared for the fight with some serious knife-handling skills that turn out to be more than movie magic. Olivia Munn stars as the concerned mom trying to keep her daughter safe, even though she lets horrible owl stuffed animals in their home. Grae Drake tries to get to the bottom of it all.