A scary pair of horror films comes to Blu-ray
Here’s a look at a pair of smart horror films recently released to Blu-ray. “Split” (Universal Studios Home Entertainment, rated PG-13, 117 minutes, 2.39:1 aspect ratio, $34.98) M. Night Shyamalan’s creative renaissance continues with his latest psychological horror thriller, now available on home theater screens.
The scary story by this director/writer takes viewers into the crowded inner world of Kevin Wendell Crumb (James McAvoy), who suffers from dissociative identity disorder and is wrestling with 23 personalities.
While working with psychologist Karen Fletcher (Betty Buckley) to control his rapidly deteriorating mental condition, he kidnaps three teenage girls and locks them in a compound as his alter egos prepare for the arrival of “the Beast.”
Mr. McAvoy delivers a perfectly complex performance, crafting a collection of nuances onto each of Crumb’s personalities, which include a 9-year-old boy, a prim woman, a male fashion designer and an angry, obsessivecompulsive pervert, to name a few.
The distinguished Miss Buckley also shines as her character slowly unravels the horrifying truth about the potential of Kevin’s 24th personality.
“Split” embraces Mr. Shyamalan’s ability to deliver the most terrors from his small-budget efforts (remember “The Visit”?) while conjuring up claustrophobic memories of such films as “Room” and “10 Cloverfield Lane.”
Best of all, fans of his early work not only will love the twists but also will be thrilled by its ending and a surprising guest star.
Although the digital transfer offers plenty of visual pop, the DTS audio sound mix overwhelms with bass-rumbling dread, swelling at moments of danger and impending suspense.
Best extras: Viewers get more than 15 minutes of deleted scenes, including an alternate ending, with each segment introduced by Mr. Shyamalan.
It was great to hear the filmmaker lament cutting some of the scenes, explaining their context to the overall story and his rationalizations as to why they were dropped. By the way, the alternate ending is more of an extra, unnecessary snippet that was to further flesh out a character called the Horde.
Additionally, a pair of featurettes (roughly 15 minutes total) covers the production and Mr. McAvoy’s fantastic performance.
If viewers can filter out the gushing from cast and crew, they will appreciate the interview segments with Mr. Shyamalan discussing his career and explaining why he hired the cinematographer from the horror film “It Follows,” Mike Gioulakis.
“The Girl with All the Gifts” (Lionsgate Home Entertainment, rated R, 111 minutes, 2.00:1 aspect ratio, $16.96) A fungal infection has turned most of the world’s population into mindless, fast-moving, flesheating ghouls in a movie from earlier this year that is now on Blu-ray and offers a frenetic yet fresh take on the “28 Days Later” genre of postapocalyptic zombie cinema.
In the story from director Colm McCarthy and writer M.R. Carey, “hungries” are everywhere, and after they overwhelm a military installation, a group of two soldiers, a scientist and a teacher escape with one of the remaining children Melanie (Sennie Nanua), who could be the key to humanity’s survival.
Glenn Close co-stars and delivers the drama as the unapologetic researcher Dr. Caroline Caldwell, experimenting on hybrid children exposed to the fungus who maintain rational thought (as long as not smelling flesh).
The smart and emotional film reminded me of the video game masterpiece “The Last of Us” and early episodes of “The Walking Dead.”
It’s worth noting that only occasionally are the survivors idiots, a habit of many a zombie film. Take the case of Dr. Caldwell stupidly engaging with an infected mother pushing a stroller with her offspring in the midst of a mass of unawakened hungries, and a soldier going out on a supply run alone and leaving his radio out of range.