- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Here’s a look at a pair of intense horror films recently released to Blu-ray.

A Cure for Wellness (20th Century Fox Home Entertainment, rated R, 146 minutes, 1.78:1 aspect ratio, $39.99) — A mysterious sanitarium at the bottom of the Swiss Alps sets the stage for director Gore Verbinski’s stylish horror thriller that debuts on high-definition.

The lengthy, slow-roasting plot finds a young and manic executive from an American financial firm, Lockhart (Dane DeHaan), forced to go to a Swiss spa to locate his company’s CEO who is required to complete a merger.

What he discovers is an odd group of elderly, well-hydrated patients and a staff resistant to his request to see the CEO. While leaving after the failed mission, he gets into a car accident, breaking his leg, and now finds himself as one of the patients.

Jason Isaacs quietly chews up the World War II-style scenery as the humble but sinister director of the institution, Dr. Heinreich Volmer. He has a mysterious daughter to tend to and plenty of secrets to keep away from Lockhart. He delivers a creepy performance that Dr. Phibes would admire.

Although the narrative desperately wants to make a cerebral statement about America’s corrupted work ethic, it only manages to free-fall into Hammer Films horror territory through its monstrous denouement.

For me, as part of the less-that-evolved cinema fan collective, that’s fine and dandy as the paranoia and grotesque imagery creeps in early and often amid the visual splendor of Mr. Verbinski effort.

The digital transfer, in its full-screen spender, showcases the beautifully crafted effort by the director and cinematographer, Bojan Bazelli to capture the antiquated institution, odd inhabitants and mountainous region.

Mesmerizing moments include a large, wrinkled eye, looking through a magnifying glass; the reflection of the Swiss Alps in a high-speed train’s passenger car; a girl in a white dress standing atop a buttress; and reflections of the famed mountains in a pool of water.

The DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 soundtrack also shines through a rumbling assault of heartbeats and frantic breathing that adds to the impending dread of many a moment.

Best extras: Slim pickings here folks for such as complex film. An almost mandatory optional commentary track with the director and cinematographer does not exist.

Instead, viewers only get a 4-minute look at the musical score, a fairly pointless segment.

However, a trio of relaxing meditation videos tied to water, air and earth might intrigue fans. The roughly 3-minute-long segments are as weird as the movie, as a male narrator guides the viewer to learn to relax, “breath in and breath out,” “breath in and breath out” while viewing some serene settings. I was not relaxed but more creeped out by the efforts.

Get Out (Universal Studios Home Entertainment, rated R, 104 minutes, 2.39:1 aspect ratio, $19.99) — This blockbuster story of an interracial couple’s unusual visit to an affluent white neighborhood, set with a clever and hypnotic twist on the thriller-horror genre, moves to Blu-ray.

When Rose (Allison Williams) brings her African-American boyfriend Chris (Daniel Kaluuya) home to meet her parents, mom the psychiatrist (Catherine Keener) and dad the neurosurgeon (Bradley Whitford), life appears overtly tolerant and normal.

However, a pair of oddly behaving servants, an African-American groundskeeper and maid along with meeting a familiar friend at a family party sets off Chris’ suspicions that something is not quite right with this too calm, liberal family.

First-time director Jordan Peele mixes a pinch of jump scares, bizarre characters, social issues, a dash of humor, and a brilliant, satiric story to offer one of the most nail-biting and entertaining movies of the year.

The digital transfer offers satisfying clarity throughout with vivid colors and frightening detailed facial features. However, more impressive was the DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 sound mix that enhanced any scares with the occasional enveloping scream, loud noise and any sounds with the horror genre.

Best extras: First, viewers get an alternate ending, with a very helpful optional commentary by Mr. Peele that would have completely changed the tone of the movie. I am glad he stuck with the more heroic conclusion.

Next, owners can access a very informative and frank optional commentary track by Mr. Peele. He completely deconstructs his production touching on story points, homages to other films, casting, race issues, musical score, visual style and discussing his first-time director’s mistakes.

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