Fall

BLU-RAY REVIEW:

Lionsgate;
Thriller;
Box Office $7.24 million;
$29.96 DVD, $39.99 Blu-ray;
Rated ‘PG-13’ for bloody images, intense peril, and strong language.
Stars Grace Caroline Currey, Virginia Gardner, Mason Gooding, Jeffrey Dean Morgan.

It may not be the most innovative film in terms of storytelling, but Fall definitely earns points for an intriguing central plot device that just can’t help but be unnerving.

The story involves a young woman named Hunter (Virginia Gardner), who is a bit of an adrenaline junkie convincing, her best friend Becky (Grace Carlone Currey) to join her in climbing an abandoned steel antenna tower in the middle of the desert. Hunter and Becky used to be avid climbers together, but Becky hasn’t gotten out much since her husband died in an accident a year earlier.

The tower being old and rusted, the only ladder to the top collapses as soon as the girls make it up, leaving them stranded on a tiny platform 2,000 feet in the air with no way to get down, and no cell phone signal to call for help.

The solutions they can try are thwarted by a series of unfortunate events, such as a pair of campers who spot them deciding to steal their car rather than go for help.

With time running out, gravity a constant threat, and swarming vultures awaiting their inevitable fate, the girls must confront both their fears and some personal demons if they hope to survive.

It’s not the most sophisticated plot, and anyone who has seen enough of these films is going to recognize elements that are well known from other movies, starting with an opening scene that is very similar to that of another climbing movie, Vertical Limit. Heck, the premise itself is just an “Open Water” movie set on a tower. But the film does its job well, maintaining viewer interest in the characters while keeping viewers uncomfortably on the edge of their seats.

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The Blu-ray includes a good 15-minute making-of featurette that shows a lot of the challenges of filming in the desert, such as heat and bugs, but also how modern visual effects and editing made the low-budget production easier to pull off during COVID, such as avoiding reshoots to adjust the swearing in the film to bring it a rating that would make it more accessible to a wider audience.

A good commentary from producer-co-writer-director Scott Mann and producer James Harris delves into more details about some of the guerilla filmmaking techniques used, such as buying equipment from Best Buy only to return it when the production was done with it.

Other extras include the film’s trailer, and a music video for the song “I Have Never Felt More Alive” by Madison Beer, though it’s just clips from the movie with superimposed song lyrics.

Scream (2022)

4K ULTRA HD BLU-RAY REVIEW: 

Street Date 4/5/22;
Paramount;
Horror;
Box Office $81.62 million;
$25.99 DVD, $31.99 Blu-ray, $34.99 UHD;
Rated ‘R’ for strong bloody violence, language throughout and some sexual references.
Stars Melissa Barrera, Jack Quaid, Mikey Madison, Jenna Ortega, Dylan Minnette, Jasmin Savoy Brown, Mason Gooding, Sonia Ammar, Marley Shelton, Kyle Gallner, Heather Matarazzo, Neve Campbell, Courteney Cox, David Arquette, Skeet Ulrich.

Rather than use the idea of a franchise relaunch to make a standalone movie unconnected to what came before, or ignoring previous sequels, creators of the new Scream explicitly wanted a continuation that honored all the previous installments.

Thus a lot of care went into crafting the fifth “Scream” film, and the result might be the best entry in the franchise since the 1996 original.

The new Scream focuses on a girl named Samantha (Melissa Barrera), a former resident of Woodsboro who is drawn back into town when her younger sister (Jenna Ortega) is attacked by the latest copycat Ghostface killer, 25 years following the events of the original film.

Sam turns out to have a secret connection to a character from the original film, and imagines communicating with that individual in a way that might garner some comparisons with “Dexter.”

To help make sense of what’s happening, Sam and her boyfriend, Richie (Jack Quaid), recruit Dewey (David Arquette), which subsequently ends up dragging Gale Weathers (Courteney Cox) and Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell) back into the picture as well.

In sticking with the tradition of “Scream” movies dissecting the horror movie genre while being part of it, the new edition manages to cleverly assemble a number of homages to the original while also layering in an amusing satire of fan culture.

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The film’s home video configurations include separate DVD, Blu-ray and 4K releases that are not combo packs (ie, the 4K release does not also include a regular Blu-ray), with digital copies included with the Blu-ray and 4K versions.

Extras are included on both the 4K and Blu-ray discs, led by an enthusiastic and informative commentary with co-writers James Vanderbilt and Guy Busick, co-directors Tyler Gillett and Matt Bettinelli-Olpin, and executive producer Chad Villella.

There are also three behind-the-scenes featurettes:  the seven-and-a-half-minute “New Blood,” about the new characters; the eight-and-a-half-minute “Bloodlines,” about connections to the earlier films; and the seven-and-a-half-minute “In the Shadow of the Master,” a tribute to the late Wes Craven, who directed the first four films.

Rounding out the extras are three minutes of some pretty good deleted scenes, and the trailer for the 1996 film.