- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 23, 2016

Monsters and supernatural elements permeate recent Blu-ray releases.

Midnight Special (Warner Bros. Home Entertainment, rated PG-13, $29.98, 111 minutes) — A special child kidnapped for all the right reasons was at the center of a supernatural sci-fi drama directed by writer/director Jeff Nichols that was virtually ignored by audiences but appreciated by critics.

Its welcomed release to Blu-ray highlights 8-year-old Alton Meyer (Jaeden Lieberher wise beyond his years) taken from a cult and on the run with his father Roy (Michael Shannon).

Being well aware of his son’s explosive powers, dad teams up with best friend (Joel Edgerton) and wife (Kirsten Dunst) to protect Alton from authorities and the religious sect while delivering him to a close encounter the world will never forget.

A digital transfer (2.39:1-aspect ratio) cannot help highlight the many dark scenes throughout the film but strong acting performances shine throughout, including Mr. Lieberher, Mr. Shannon and a disheveled Adam Driver as an NSA analyst stumbling upon Alton’s complex gifts.

If one ignores the too-cliched ending, “Midnight Special” is definitely worth a rental or on-demand viewing.

Best extras: First, short biography vignettes, totaling 12 minutes, spotlight the five key characters (Roy, Lucas, Sarah, Alton and Sevier) as explored by the actors and director.

Next, viewers get a 5-minute look at the back story with Mr. Nichols’ explaining his goal to make an homage to 1980s sci-fi movies while presenting another way of revealing that humans are not alone.

With some of the otherworldly themes explored in the movie, an optional commentary track from the director should have been included.

10 Cloverfield Lane (Paramount Home Entertainment, Rated PG-13, $39.99, 104 minutes) — The directorial debut of Dan Trachtenberg offered a clever extension of the Cloverfield franchise earlier this year with a critically acclaimed blockbuster exploring the many forms of monsters.

Instead of watching a massive beast attacking a city, like in the original movie, home theater fans can now appreciate the close quarters work of John Goodman as an extreme survivalist named Howard Stambler.

He saves a pair of humans, Michelle (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) and Emmett (Emmett DeWitt) in his well-equipped, deeply buried bunker from what appears to be an apocalypse unfolding above ground.

I’ll offer nothing else of the plot other than its twists making for some riveting and very entertaining moments in the cinematic traditions of “The Room” and “War of the Worlds.”

Best extras: An optional commentary track with Mr. Trachtenberg and producer J.J. Abrams shines brightly as the pair casually delivers an exceptional analysis of the story, overall production and film-making minutia.

No detail is too small — down to revealing that Bradley Cooper was the voice of the beleaguered boyfriend of Michelle and why they used computer-generated, rotting pigs.

Additionally, viewers get roughly 30 minutes of behind-the-scenes featurettes loaded with interviews touching upon the car-crash practical effects, the digital special effects, comparisons to the original film, music choices and designing the movie’s key costume.

The Other Side of the Door (20th Century Fox Home Entertainment, rated R, $29.99, 96 minutes) — Choices haunt a woman to make an unholy decision to restore her family in a supernatural thriller loaded with cheap jump scares that never resonated with critics or audiences.

Its resurrection to Blu-ray offers the fairly uncomfortable plot that explores an unimaginable horror, the accidental death of a child, and a mother (Sarah Wayne Callies from “The Walking Dead”) who will go to places no sane mortal should visit to reconnect with her son.

A digital transfer highlights some spectacular outdoor locations in Mumbai, India, and a creepy exterior and interiors of a forbidden temple that holds the key to a portal between life and death. Just don’t open the door. Of course, she opens that door and unleashes devastating consequences.

Best extras: A paltry collection of six deleted scenes actually add a bit more unappreciated creepiness to the main event and a 2-minute promotional featurette won’t help close the purchase of the Blu-ray. Still “The Other Side of the Door” might intrigue as a rental for viewers in need of a flimsy fright.

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