A scary pair of hor­ror films comes to Blu-ray

The Washington Times Daily - - LIFE -

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.

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