Punch Drunk DVDs: 'Lights Out', 'Hunt For The Wilderpeople', 'Nerve', And More!


This new horror thriller from iconic genre producer James Wan tells the story of an American family haunted by a creature that lives in pure darkness. Rebecca, the adult daughter played by Teresa Palmer, is thrown back into her family’s troubled past when her younger brother begins to encounter the same monster in the shadows that has plagued their unstable mother for years.

We Said: Lights Out does its job and does it well. I challenge you, when you go to see this film find the parking spot under which the street light is broken and tell me you don’t speed up your process when getting in the driver’s seat when the film is over.” Rating: 3.5 out of 5

The Good: Director David F. Sandberg really elevates this straight-forward “monster in the dark” premise to be something pretty tense and suspenseful. More often than not, Lights Out is truly effectively frightening, with scenes and visuals that will keep you up at night. The performances are also pretty great, in particular child actor Gabriel Bateman as the haunted young brother. It’s a pretty standard horror movie, but its direction, editing, score, and performances all come together to make this a solid horror movie worth watching.

The Bad: The biggest problem plaguing Lights Out is its flimsy script. It relies on stock characters, tropes, and horror conventions you’ve seen many times before. The film is based on a two minute short film, and in stretching that concept to a full length runtime, a lot of filler and weak plotlines are thrown in left and right.

Overall: Although not the most inventive, Lights Out is a very well made horror movie, with several standout performances and a first time director who we’ll certainly see more of.

Writer/Director Taika Waititi’s new film tells the story of a troubled boy and his foster father who leave society to live a rural life in the wilderness of the New Zealand bush. Together, they learn to care for each other while on the run from the government agents pursuing them.

We Said: Hunt for the Wilderpeople could have easily been just another coming-of-age movie but it's Waititi's special voice, one that embraces characters that are weird and flawed and lovable, that separates it from the pack.” Rating: 3.5 out of 5

The Good: This is a very strange movie with a very strange voice. Director Waititi manages to tell a story that’s both hilarious and heartfelt and unlike any other film I’ve seen. The performances are also fantastic and surprising, with Sam Neil nailing the role of the crotchety, isolated old foster father, and newcomer Julian Dennison giving a complex and humorous performance as the main child. Hunt For The Wilderpeople is a deeply bizarre and surprisingly moving dramedy.

The Bad: While it does have an excellent mix of tones, they don’t always blend together as seamlessly as one would hope, with comedic beats seeming to interrupt somber moments.

Overall: A little tone-deaf, but mostly touching and funny, The Hunt For The Wilderpeople is an unusual movie with a perspective all its own.

Based on the novel of the same name, Nerve tells the story of Vee (Emma Roberts). She’s an ambitious high school senior who winds up enlisting for “Nerve” – a provocative online game where players accept a series of increasingly risky online dares sent in by their viewing audience. When she teams up with Ian (Dave Franco) the two navigate through the dangerous world of this all consuming game.

We Said: “Despite [its] flaws, the filmmakers do manage to get one thing very right.  Unlike almost any other cautionary tale about the Dangers of the Internet […] Nerve sees an up-side.  Vee risks a lot, but she gains a lot too.  She uses her experience in the public eye to learn what she's capable of, and she finds pockets of support among the indifferent masses.” Rating: 3 out of 5