Grim Pickings / 20 June 2019

Cinemas & Home Entertainment This Week…

GRIM PICKINGS this week includes key dates to dismember with two toy-fronted features battling it out on the big screen while home entertainment serves up some slice n’ dice in a literal game of survive or die!


If you had your doubts about the CHILD’S PLAY remake, we don’t blame you. Tom Holland’s 1988 original was not only an imaginative and instant cult classic, it also paved the way for six sequels, the most recent of which was only two years ago, CULT OF CHUCKY. While the quality of said sequels is debatable, the fact that there’s six of them proves the franchise has endured through the continued enthusiasm of its rabid fanbase, a devotion that’s run strong for near on thirty years, creating a true cinematic legacy. So the idea that a studio would reboot a franchise that’s beloved and still breathing, certainly seemed odd. That said money talks and Orion Pictures, producers of the original feature, used a loophole to allow them to remake the original film, without the participation of series creator Don Mancini, who declined to be involved. A shady cash-grab? No doubt. Thankfully though the key creatives behind this all-new adaption of CHILD’S PLAY have approached the project as if it were entirely their own and rather than merely retread the original, they have reimagined it. Starting from the ground up with a new premise, in that Chucky (voiced by Mark Hamill) is no longer a doll possessed by a serial killer but an ai-enabled toy that has had both its security and safety settings disabled, allowing it the ability to learn and act within its own distorted reasoning. Another major difference this time around is that Chucky is initially no longer at odds with Andy (Gabriel Bateman) instead only wanting to be his ‘best friend’ and he will do anything to ensure Andy is safe and that nothing or no one comes between them. Through a combination of Tyler Burton Smith’s clever writing, Lars Klevberg’s masterful direction and Hamill’s brilliant performance, the film renders a truly unique interpretation of Chucky that allows for equal parts empathy and fear. CHILD’S PLAY is a genuine rarity in that it not only provides an outstanding twist on a familiar source but offers up a truly dark, suspenseful, morbidly funny and throughly enjoyable film worthy of its own independent appreciation. This is the remake we didn’t think we wanted that has proven to be one of the best horror films of the year! Karen (Aubrey Plaza), a single mother, gifts her son Andy (Bateman) a Buddi doll, unaware of its more sinister nature.

It’s hard to believe that Disney/Pixar’s TOY STORY first graced the big screen back in 1995 and even harder to believe that twenty-four years later and three sequels in, that this fourth instalment is every bit as incredible as the first. TOY STORY 4 not only had the mammoth task of following on from three legendary films but also convincing audiences as to its reason to exist when it felt as if we had reached perfect closure by the finale of the third film. Rather than offer mere fan service to bookend the series, screenwriters Andrew Stanton and Stephany Folsom open up the TOY STORY universe by introducing fresh characters (voiced by Keanu Reeves, Christina Hendricks and Jordan Peele among others) and environments to usher in a new audience, without alienating longtime fans. The result is 
a heartfelt, imaginative and wondrous chapter that not only makes for a worthy addition to the beloved franchise but a new beginning, our only hope from here is that we won’t have to wait another nine years for the next adventure! Woody has always been confident about his place in the world and that his priority is taking care of his kid, whether that’s Andy or Bonnie. But when Bonnie adds a reluctant new toy called “Forky” to her room, a road trip adventure alongside old and new friends will show Woody how big the world can be for a toy.

Filmmaker David Robert Mitchell follows up his 2014 breakthrough horror film, IT FOLLOWS, with what could be described as hipster-noir, a cross between THE BIG LEBOWSKI and INHERENT VICE. Undoubtedly ambitious, excessive and self-indulgent, UNDER THE SILVER LAKE is awash of mesmerising visuals, bewitching characters and an engrossing though somewhat convoluted plot. Mitchell’s film is an experience rather than a conventional narrative, which some may fear to engage with but for those who do, they are in for a hypnotic and captivating cinematic adventure, one that with every viewing will reveal more and more mysteries within its shoegazing universe. 
Sam (Andrew Garfield) is a disenchanted 33 year old who discovers a mysterious woman, Sarah (Riley Keough), frolicking in his apartment’s swimming pool. When she vanishes, Sam embarks on a surreal quest across Los Angeles to decode the secret behind her disappearance, leading him into the murkiest depths of mystery, scandal, and conspiracy in the City of Angels.


From filmmaker Adam Robitel (INSIDIOUS: THE LAST KEY, THE TAKING OF DEBORAH LOGAN) comes ESCAPE ROOM, a high-concept horror that combines elements of CUBE and SAW into a swift, suspenseful and and adrenaline-fuelled 100 minutes of slicing and dicing. An intriguing invitation brings six strangers together. Initially, they think they have gathered for a highly immersive escape room, but they soon make the sickening discovery that they are pawns in a sadistic game of life and death. Together, they move from one terrifying scenario to the next as they find clues and solve puzzles. But the players soon learn that exposing their darkest secrets may hold the key to survive. Sony’s Blu-ray release contains three Featurettes that range from the film’s set pieces to the cast discussing their roles to the cast’s recollections of real-life escape room experiences, along with almost twenty minutes of Deleted Scenes!
Brie Larson (FREE FIRE, KONG: SKULL ISLAND) silences critical fanboys with a nuanced and finely tuned performance as the titular character in this refreshing burst of gaiety in what has otherwise been a dark and surprisingly serious time of late in the MCU. Under the assured direction of MISSISSIPPI GRIND filmmaking duo Anna Boden & Ryan Fleck, CAPTAIN MARVEL not only succeeds in delivering the spectacular set pieces we’ve grown accustom to from previous franchise features but also a rich origin story peppered with the perfect amount of heart, humour and sheer kickassery. Shout outs to Ben Mendelsohn (READY PLAYER ONE) and Reggie for some scene-stealing performances and the writers decision to set the film within the mid-nineties, which not only works for an incredible stroll down nostalgia lane but a perfect set-up for fish out of way scenarios! 
CAPTAIN MARVEL follows the journey of Carol Danvers (Larson) as she becomes one of the universe’s most powerful heroes. While a galactic war between two alien races reaches Earth, Danvers finds herself and a small cadre of allies at the centre of the maelstrom. Disney’s 4K Ultra-HD/Blu-ray & Blu-ray releases contain six Featurettes ranging from Larson’s journey joining the MCU to a hilarious cast and crew tell-all on working with the film’s feline actor along with just under nine minutes worth of Deleted Scenes, a Gag Reel and finally an insightful Audio Commentary with writers/directors Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck.
Karyn Kusama (THE INVITATION, XX) helms this flat, cliched and drag of a thriller that could be better described as a character-driven drama if Nicole Kidman’s performance contained any depth or spirit to it, instead the only thing driving this slow-burnout of a film is its elongated runtime.  DESTROYER follows the moral and existential odyssey of LAPD detective Erin Bell (Kidman) who, as a young cop, was placed undercover with a gang in the California desert with tragic results. When the leader of that gang re-emerges many years later, she must work her way back through the remaining members and into her own history with them to finally reckon with the demons that destroyed her past. Madman Entertainment’s DVD release contains no supplementary features.

Grim Pickings is written and compiled weekly by Jarret Gahan.