- The Washington Times - Monday, January 11, 2016

Home theater owners in need of a horror movie fix may appreciate a chilling selection of Blu-ray releases now available.

The Visit (Universal Studios Home Entertainment, rated PG-13, $34.98, 94 minutes) — Director M. Night Shyamalan returned to his quirky horror roots with a movie about a pair of children Becca and Tyler (played perfectly by Olivia DeJonge and Ed Oxenbould) getting to spend an unforgettable week with their estranged grandparents.

Viewers quickly discern something is terribly wrong with the elders leading to a screen-filling nightmare playing out for the young visitors. Creepy performances from Deanna Dunagan and Peter McRobbie as the elders make the film.

Shot in a documentary style from the perspective of the kids holding the camera, the film never attains the suspenseful or complex heights of “The Sixth Sense” or “Signs.” However, “The Visit” still proves Mr. Shyamalan can offer some sustained psychological scares for movie audiences.

Extras include 10 deleted scenes, an alternate ending focusing on the mother’s emotional baggage of leaving her parents, a heart-warming photo montage from Becca and a much-too-short, 10-minute look at the making of the film. The latter is basically a welcomed, introspective interview with director.



Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension (Paramount Pictures Home Entertainment, rated R, $39.99) — The (gulp) sixth and final installment of the supernatural, found-footage film series wraps up with another set of idiot parents trying to protect their daughter from a violently evil entity spanning seven days of hell.


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Even with help from a special camera that detects the spirit, videotapes that clearly foreshadow the trouble (with a nice ode to “Paranormal Activity 3”) and a priest with a plan, the Fleege family is not going to be having a merry Christmas.

The Blu-ray offers three cuts of the movie — the theatrical version (88 minutes long), an extended version (adding about 9 minutes) and an extended version with an alternate ending (95 minutes long but much creepier and with a less violent conclusion).

By far, the best part of the action is the special-effects work (including “Star Wars” effects pioneers Industrial Light and Magic) in delivering the grumpy demon Toby. He transforms from an undulating mass of floating black ooze to a creature that Harry Potter’s dementors would appreciate.

Extras only include 20 minutes of more found footage that also helps to illuminate some of the mythology of the “Paranormal Activity” mythology.

Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse (Paramount Pictures Home Entertainment, rated R, $39.99, 93 minutes) — I think the title of director Christopher Landon’s horror comedy from last year explains it all. After a virus spreads in a small town and turns many of its citizens into spry, flesh-eating ghouls, three teenage Boy Scouts (best friends, Ben, Carter and Augie) and a healthy cocktail waitress must work together to survive.

Parental units and intelligent humans will wince at the coming-of-age shenanigans and disgusting gore occasionally involving sexual organs.

Most horrifying of the antics is watching a zombified, 89-year-old legend Cloris Leachman still willing to do anything for a laugh. It will take multiple viewings of her in “Young Frankenstein” and “High Anxiety” to forget this lowlight.

Extras offer a few deleted scenes and 40 minutes of featurettes spearheaded by a half-hour love fest with writers, director, cast and crew telling us how hilarious and amazing the movie is and what it took to bring the zombie epic to life.

Suffice to report, “Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse” is no “Zombieland” or “The Return of the Living Dead” and best for 30-year-old males who want to giggle like Beavis and Butthead.

The Green Inferno (Universal Studios Home Entertainment, rated R, $29.98, 101 minutes) — Gore horror maestro Eli Roth (“Hostel”) offered his take on cannibalism back in 2013, and his effort finally arrives on Blu-ray. I’m not sure that’s a good thing, but a certain segment of home theater audiences may find the fate of socially active college students visiting the Amazon rainforest to stop logging companies a bloody thrill ride.

It takes forever to get to the grisly events, but Mr. Roth stays true to his formula of delivering some crystal-clear cinema tied to humanity’s most grotesque behavior. Suffice to report, onscreen life is most unsettling once an indigenous Peruvian tribe captures the students. Word of warning to viewers: Get a barf bag handy if you have a weak stomach.

Extras include an optional commentary track with Mr. Roth; (director, co-writer and producer), producer Nicolas Lopez; and actors Lorenza Izzo, Aaron Burns, Kirby Bliss Blanton and Daryl Sabara.

The track is a non-stop talkfest loaded with informative details about the production and visual effects down to the cameras used in the shoot, working with the villagers, the sounds made when a head gets cut off and the importance of Koronet Pizza at Columbia University.

Viewers also get a 200-image photo gallery covering the entire production from behind and in front of the cameras.

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