A weekly round-up of the latest DVD releases.
By Damon Smith.
New to rent on DVD/Blu-ray.
The Woman In Black (Cert 12, 91 mins, Momentum Pictures Home Entertainment, Horror/Thriller, also available to buy DVD £19.99/Blu-ray £24.99).
Starring: Daniel Radcliffe, Ciaran Hinds, Janet McTeer, Misha Handley, Roger Allam, Shaun Dooley, Mary Stockley, Sophie Stuckey.
London solicitor Arthur Kipps (Daniel Radcliffe) is haunted by the death of his wife Stella (Sophie Stuckey) during childbirth, and he seeks refuge in his love for their three-year-old boy (Misha Handley). Arthur is dispatched to the remote village of Crythin Gifford where he must attend to the papers of Alice Drablow, the recently deceased owner of Eel Marsh House. The locals try to ward off Arthur, advising him to "go home to your son". However, the solicitor persists with the help of local landowner Mr Daily (Ciaran Hinds) and he glimpses a mysterious figure (Liz White), who is blamed for the deaths of children in the village. Based on the celebrated novel by Susan Hill, The Woman In Black is a cinematic ghost train that plunges us into the eerie silence of a haunted house as the film's mutton-chopped hero nervously wanders corridors with a flickering lamp. James Watkins's film opens with a chilling scene of three girls committing suicide and continues to unnerve until Radcliffe is compelled to speak. The 22-year-old Harry Potter star is as wooden as the creaky floorboards in the godforsaken mansion and as soulless as the titular spectre. His character's emotional torment fails to translate from the script to his inexpressive face. Watkins orchestrates some nice scares, accompanied by deafening bursts of composer Marco Beltrami's discordant score. The decision to forego dialogue to concentrate on old-fashioned horror traditions is refreshing and renders leading man Radcliffe mute for extended periods, which is no bad thing.
Rating: *** Carnage (Cert 15, 76 mins, Studio Canal, Comedy/Drama, also available to buy DVD £17.99/Blu-ray £22.99) Starring: Jodie Foster, Kate Winslet, Christoph Waltz, John C Reilly.
Alan Cowan (Christoph Waltz) and his wife Nancy (Kate Winslet) visit the apartment of Michael and Penelope Longstreet (John C Reilly, Jodie Foster) to apologise for their son Zachary, who has hit the Longstreets' son Ethan in the face with a stick. The meeting is intended to be brief and courteous and Alan tries to speed along proceedings by candidly admitting, "Our son is a maniac. If you hope he'll suddenly and spontaneously get all apologetic, you're dreaming." As the conversation ebbs and flows, tensions become evident until poor Nancy is taken ill and Penelope unleashes her middle-class fury. Adapted by playwright Yasmina Reza from her own award-winning stage comedy, Carnage strips away the veneer of civility that supposedly separates man from beast and reduces two well-to-do couples to snarling adversaries. Director Roman Polanski entrusts the incendiary dialogue to three former Oscar winners, who deliver each verbal grenade with lip-smacking relish. It's an acting tour-de-force, the tension heightened by the claustrophobic setting of the Longstreets' swish Brooklyn apartment. Polanski works closely with cinematographer Pawel Edelman to move the argument around the enclosed space, shooting from different angles to draw imaginary battle lines between the couples as they vie for supremacy. Camerawork and editing become increasingly frenetic as everyone competes for the delicious last word. Yet the piece's origins are unmistakable and Reza's coup de theatre - a character projectile vomiting across the stage when a piece of homemade cobbler unsettles her stomach - doesn't have quite the same impact when we're protected from spatter by the cinematic fourth wall.
Rating: **** One For The Money (Cert 12, 87 mins, Entertainment In Video, Action/Comedy/Romance, also available to buy DVD £19.99/Blu-ray £24.99) Starring: Katherine Heigl, Jason O'Mara, Daniel Sunjata, Patrick Fischler.
Times are tough for Stephanie Plum (Katherine Heigl) - she is out of work and out of luck. In desperation, Stephanie turns to her shady cousin, Vinnie (Patrick Fischler), who runs his own company Vinnie's Bail Bonds. Without any training or obvious skills, Stephanie goes to work for Vinnie, chasing down men and women who have skipped bail, beginning with her handsome old flame, Joe Morelli (Jason O'Mara), a former cop who is now wanted for murder. Aided by the enigmatic Ranger (Daniel Sunjata), who teaches her the basics of bounty hunting, Stephanie closes in on her prey but when she finally catches up with Joe, she questions if he is truly guilty. Sparks of sexual attraction are rekindled and Stephanie risks her new career to determine Joe's innocence or guilt. One For The Money is a misfiring comic caper about a young woman forced to re-evaluate her life, based on the best-selling novel by Janet Evanovich. Director Julie Anne Robinson veers sharply and awkwardly from black comedy to thriller, unable to get a grip on a script that is poorly paced and flimsy. Heigl's run of mediocrity, which began with Killers and continued with Life As We Know It and New Year's Eve, teeters precariously on the brink of deathly dull, hamstrung here by a lack of screen chemistry with her male co-stars. Only the occasional fleeting comic supporting turn from Fisher Stevens or Sherri Shepherd convinces us to stay awake.