RT on DVD & Blu-Ray: Hotel Transylvania and Seven Psychopaths

Plus, a couple of scary movies and a frighteningly bad action flick.

by | January 29, 2013 | Comments

This week on home video, Adam Sandler plays an animated Dracula, and Colin Farrell reunites with his In Bruges director for another Certified Fresh winner. Then we’ve got a couple of horror movies — one bad and one decent — and an action dud from the guy who made JCVD. Plus, there are a few noteworthy reissues to talk about, so see below for the full list!

Hotel Transylvania


Of the three spooky animated family films that opened last fall, two were stop-motion creations, and two were critically acclaimed. Hotel Transylvania, unfortunately, was neither, but lo and behold, it made more money than the other two combined. Playing off familiar horror movie monsters made famous by Universal’s classic lineup, the film stars Adam Sandler as the voice of Dracula, who runs the titular hotel as a sort of resort getaway for his freaky friends. On the occasion of his daughter Mavis’s (Selena Gomez) 18th birthday, he invites the whole gang — Frankenstein (Kevin James), the Mummy (CeeLo Green), etc. — to celebrate, but complications ensue when a normal guy named Jonathan (Andy Samberg) wanders in unexpectedly and falls in love with Mavis. Hotel Transylvania didn?t fare too terribly with critics — at 43%, it’s still the highest rated film Adam Sandler’s made since 2009’s Funny People — but most found it a bit too loud and underwritten for older audiences. If you need something bubbly and forgettable to occupy the kids while you tend to trick-or-treaters, this’ll probably work.

Seven Psychopaths


Martin McDonagh’s first feature, 2008’s In Bruges, was an underseen sleeper hit that enjoyed some long tail success on home video; it would appear that reteaming with star Colin Farrell for Seven Psychopaths was a good idea. Utilizing an impressive supporting cast — including Sam Rockwell, Woody Harrelson, Christopher Walken, Abbie Cornish, Harry Dean Stanton, and more — Seven Psychopaths tells the story of a struggling writer (Farrell) whose actor buddy (Rockwell) unwittingly steals the pet pup of a violent gangster (Harrelson) in hopes of inspiring him to finish his latest screenplay. Critics largely found the film a rollicking good time, with sharp dialogue, clever storytelling, and just enough violence to keep audiences on their toes. Though it might be a little absurd and over-the-top for some, it’s Certified Fresh at 82% (like In Bruges) and promises a pretty fun and funny ride.

Paranormal Activity 4


The Paranormal Activity films have always relied more on atmosphere, the eerie quiet and subtle noises that build to a jump scare or shocking climax. Unfortunately, this tactic becomes quickly formulaic, and that’s part of the reason critics were none too impressed with the fourth installment. Paranormal Activity 4 is a sequel set five years after the events of the second film, focusing on teenage girl Alex (Kathryn Newton) and her family as they deal with what appears to be a supernatural presence in their house; the unseen force seems to be connected to Alex’s next door neighbors, who may or may not be Katie and her nephew Hunter from the previous films. Critics say PA4 still manages a handful of creepy moments, but also that the film’s themes are now so overdone that they feel formulaic, and that its attempts to make up for this with a beefed up mythology largely fall flat.

The Awakening


Ready for another ghost story? Rebecca Hall, Imelda Staunton, and Dominic West star in a period haunted house flick set in 1920s London, and critics say their performances help to elevate the relatively familiar material. An author and skeptic (Hall) who has recently lost her fiancé is asked by an instructor at an all boys boarding school to look into the death and subsequent sightings of a student there. Predisposed not to believe in the supernatural, she takes the job and begins to question everything she knows as she witnesses more and more evidence of the inexplicable. The doubting skeptic, the mansion full of children, the period setting — these are not new elements in the genre, but what sets The Awakening apart from the pack, say critics, is the old-fashioned horror storytelling, the transformation of Hall’s character (and her ability to sell that transformation), and competent direction from Nick Murphy. At 60%, it may not scare the pants off you or blow your mind, but it’s probably one of the better atmospheric chillers.

The Cold Light of Day


Tunisian director Mabrouk El Mechri surprised a lot of folks with his poignant meta-thriller JCVD back in 2008, so how would he handle an international spy thriller starring the next Superman (Henry Cavill), Bruce Willis, and Sigourney Weaver? Not very well at all, apparently. Cavill plays Will Shaw, a government advisor who reluctantly travels to Spain for a family holiday. When a boating accident leads to the mysterious disappearance of his family, Will becomes embroiled in a CIA scandal involving his agent father (Willis), the Mossad, and a valuable briefcase. The main offender here is one we’ve seen sink many an action film: cliché. From generic spy lingo to predictable plot twists, The Cold Light of Day never emerges from its genre trappings to offer the same kind of freshness El Mechri displayed in his earlier film. As such, this one sits at a truly dismal 5% on the Tomatometer, so consider yourself warned.

Also available this week:

  • Ridley Scott’s 1977 debut The Duellists (90%), starring Keith Carradine and Harvey Keitel in a stylish historical drama about two men in Napoleon’s army who engage in a series of duels over several years, on Blu-ray.
  • A 25th Anniversary Die Hard collection that includes all four released films, as well as a brand new bonus disc entitled “Decoding Die Hard,” on Blu-ray.
  • A new Blu-ray of Luis Buñuel’s final film, That Obscure Object of Desire (100%). (NOTE: This film was previously available in a Criterion Collection edition; this is a separate, unaffiliated release.)