Ghostface in Paramount Pictures and Spyglass Media Group’s “Scream.”
Originally published April 14, 2022
This week’s releases feature another chapter in a legendary horror franchise; a dark twist in a suspenseful drama; a good horror film; and a touching romance that struggles with storytelling.
A diary for Jordan (Blu Ray)
Based on the true story of First Sergeant Charles Monroe King (Michael B. Jordan), a soldier deployed to Iraq, who begins to keep a journal of love and advice for his young son. Back home, senior New York Times Editor Dana Canedy (Chanté Adams) follows the story of her unlikely, life-changing relationship with King and his enduring devotion to her and their child.
This is a moving tale, but it’s very slow. Dana and Charles don’t seem like the best couple as their relationship is complicated by his ministry and their interests are very different. Still, they find a way through their differences to enjoy short-lived, temporary happiness. It’s far from a fairy tale, but Jordan and Adams’ chemistry goes a long way in helping the story’s romantic element. However, it’s exhausting jumping back and forth between timelines as her son discovers his father and seeks his guidance through his journal. Denzel Washington appears to be an actor’s director as the performances are excellent which makes it even more unfortunate that the film is a bit difficult to watch.
Notable features include: deleted scenes; “Family Portrait: Making the Film”; “Heart and Soul: Charles and Dana”; “Words of Wisdom: The Journal”; and gag roll. (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment)
The Handmaid’s Tale: The Complete Fourth Season (DVD)
June (Elisabeth Moss) strikes back as a fierce rebel leader against Gilead, but the risks she takes bring dangerous new challenges, and her quest for justice and revenge threatens to consume her.
June has repeatedly chosen to stay in Gilead until she can rescue her daughter, but this season suggests there is more to her decision to avoid freedom. After Angel Flight, June and the other fugitive maids go under where they meet more women being abused by men and this horrible system. Unsurprisingly, June is determined to empower and/or free her at all costs. Meanwhile, Serena and Fred (Yvonne Strahovski and Joseph Fiennes) weigh their hatred for one another against their chances in the legal system while being prosecuted for their many crimes. Also in Canada, Moira (Samira Wiley) questions the effectiveness of her humanitarian efforts and the cost of her guilt over June. It’s satisfying to see some of the villains get their comeuppance, even if it’s brief in some cases. However, the season finale is one of the series’ darkest moments, and raises a number of questions for the next chapter, particularly about June and her motivations.
Features include: “A Burning Question” for each episode. (Warner Bros. Home Entertainment)
The long night (Blu Ray)
Searching for the parents she never knew, New York transplant recipient Grace (Scout Taylor-Compton) and her boyfriend Jack (Nolan Gerard Funk) return to their childhood homeland in the South for a promising lead into the whereabouts of her to follow family. Upon arrival, the couple’s weekend takes a bizarre, terrifying turn when a nightmarish cult and its insane leader terrorize the couple en route to fulfilling a twisted, ancient apocalyptic prophecy.
The beginning of the film is not very informative as the audience may feel uncertain about the stability of Grace and Jack’s relationship, especially as the first time she meets his family is culminated in a brief argument between the two despite earlier preparations. Instead, the narrative begins when they arrive at the home of the mysterious person who contacted Grace about her family. To her credit, when things start to get weird, the couple actually tries to leave almost immediately, rather than waiting until morning or some other poor excuse that would undoubtedly get her life. The cult looks quite menacing with their bony masks, and their ability to reach them without even entering the house is even more frightening. The narrative direction is evident early on, although it raises some additional questions regarding Grace’s adoption. It’s a solid thriller up until the second act, but then it loses momentum.
Features include: Commentary by director Rich Ragsdale; “The birth”; “The Look”; “The score”; and the award-winning short film from director Rich Ragsdale, The bow. (Now go USA)
Scream (4K Ultra HD & digital copy)
25 years after a series of brutal murders shocked the quiet town of Woodsboro, a terrifying new killer brings the Ghostface mask back to life. As deaths mount, Woodsboro’s new targets must seek help from the survivors of the original Ghostface attacks. Now only Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell), former sheriff Dewey Riley (David Arquette) and reporter Gale Weathers (Courteney Cox) can figure out a way to stop the killer when all are suspected.
It’s time to return to Woodsboro, where Ghostface once again targets unknowing teenagers, though their connection to the previous murders, if any, is not immediately apparent. What is clear is the filmmakers’ appreciation for Wes Craven’s work, from this franchise and beyond. Fans of the first film – and its sequels to a lesser extent – will discover myriad references to the earlier images, from the score to the wardrobe to certain frames. The film is still confident, but in a different way, as a new cast of characters must confront the masked killer while old personalities play supporting roles. While not everyone will enjoy the many tributes to the Craven franchise, it can be very endearing and offer fun Easter eggs for fans – aside from trying to play by the rules and identifying the killer ahead of the reveal.
Features include: Filmmaker Commentary; deleted scenes; “Bloodlines”; “New Blood”; and “In the Shadow of the Master”. (Paramount Home Entertainment)