Skip to content

Review: Master Gardener

May 18, 2023

By John Corrado

★★★ (out of 4)

The opening scene of Paul Schrader’s Master Gardener will be very familiar to those who watched the writer-director’s previous two movies The Card Counter and First Reformed. A man sits hunched over at a desk in a dimly lit room writing in a journal, as voiceover narration reveals the thoughts he is jotting down.

And these similarities are intentional; Master Gardener finds Schrader completing this Robert Bresson-inspired trilogy of sorts about tortured men with dark impulses trying to walk a righteous path. This is the weakest of the three (with First Reformed still remaining the strongest of the set), but a more minor work from Schrader still gives us plenty to chew on.

The man in question journalling his inner-thoughts in Master Gardener is Narvel Roth (Joel Edgerton), a horticulturist who oversees the sprawling garden on the estate property of wealthy widow Norma Haverhill (Sigourney Weaver). But Narvel has a dark past, which is revealed when he takes his shirt off in private and we glimpse the Swastika tattoos on his back.

Narvel was part of a violent neo-Nazi group in a previous life, and is desperately trying to cling to this second chance he has been given. Norma has a request for him; her troubled, estranged grand-niece Maya (Quintessa Swindell), who is of mixed-race heritage, has come back into her life, and she wants Narvel to take her on as an apprentice in the garden. We can sort of see where this might be going, but Schrader doesn’t necessarily take a conventional path.

No stranger to exploring controversial topics throughout his career, Master Gardener finds Schrader once again stepping into contentious subject matter. We can sense the metaphors that he is alluding to throughout, with the idea of “weeding a garden” tying into eugenics, and the title perhaps being meant as a nod to the elusive Hitlerian idea of a “master race.” But Schrader’s layered, slow-burn approach keeps this from being a reactionary or simplistically provocative work.

Schrader is more interested in deeper, philosophical questions such as if bad people can turn good, or if a part of their past will always influence them. The film unfolds at a deliberate pace that walks a knife’s edge, unfolding mostly as simmering character drama, but one that could bubble over into actual thriller territory at any moment. The careful pacing is matched by cinematographer Alexander Dynan’s stately compositions of each scene.

It’s debatable how well each of the film’s individual elements are handled on first viewing, such as a surrealist driving scene that dips into fantasy, and a few moments with Weaver’s character that nearly tip over into melodrama. But Master Gardener has enough intrigue to keep us watching, and hidden meanings that I sense will continue to reveal themselves. The film is guided by Edgerton’s focused and quietly intense performance, with his Narvel Roth serving as another fascinatingly troubled soul sprung from Schrader’s mind.

Master Gardener opens exclusively in limited release on May 19th. It’s being distributed in Canada by VVS Films.

Review: White Men Can’t Jump (Disney+)

May 18, 2023

By John Corrado

★★ (out of 4)

A remake of Ron Shelton’s 1992 comedy of the same name that starred Woody Harrelson and Wesley Snipes, White Men Can’t Jump is an updated version of the story that strips away a lot of the original’s grit and personality.

Like the original, the film is set in Los Angeles around the basketball courts of Venice Beach. The main character is Kamal Allen (Sinqua Walls), a former college basketball star who had his career cut short, and is now trying to reclaim his former glory.

When Kamal is hustled by Jeremy (rapper Jack Harlow in his acting debut), a white dude who had to give up his own playing career and now makes money by challenging guys to pickup games and hiding the fact that he can really dunk, the two decide to team up on the court. The story finds them bumping up against each other while trying to revitalize their professional careers.

There are the obligatory subplots, with Kamal’s girlfriend Imani (Teyana Taylor) trying to save up enough money to open her own hair salon. Jeremy’s girlfriend Tatiana (Laura Harrier) also wants to advance her career as a dance choreographer, but she is stuck supporting him as his business ventures don’t pan out. The supporting cast includes the late Lance Reddick in one of his final roles as Kamal’s father, and the court side tag team of Vince Staples and Myles Bullock who do get in some mildly amusing one-liners

The biggest difference between the two versions of White Men Can’t Jump is that the remake adds more backstories to the characters and injects a dose of sentimentality into the story, while removing some of the darker aspects of the ‘92 version. The remake attempts to be more “progressive” by cleaning up some of the trash talking and grittier elements of the original, but this ironically only makes the film feel less relevant. Harlow also lacks Harrelson’s charismatic screen presence and natural charm, and it’s hard for anyone to match the firebrand energy that Snipes brought to the original.

While it’s directed by Calmatic, a commercial and music video director who made his feature debut with the House Party remake released earlier this year, White Men Can’t Jump more closely bears the stamp of its co-writer and producer Kenya Barris, who created the sitcom Black-ish and its spinoffs. The film has a sitcomish feel to it, with its made-for-streaming sheen and jokes about modern race relations that we can hear coming from a mile away, and not much in the way of fresh new insights.

The style of humour and mixed race buddy comedy elements also hue closely to Barris’ own directorial debut You People (which was just released on Netflix in January). This is all to say that White Men Can’t Jump feels somewhat stale and derivative, and not just of the 1992 film that preceded it. This is a mostly toothless and almost instantly forgettable remake that struggles to really get off the ground.

(L-R): Jack Harlow as Jeremy and Sinqua Walls as Kamal in 20th Century Studios’ WHITE MEN CAN’T JUMP, exclusively on Hulu. Photo by Parrish Lewis. © 2023 20th Century Studios. All Rights Reserved.

White Men Can’t Jump will be available to stream exclusively on Disney+ in Canada as of May 19th.

4K Ultra HD Review: Flashdance: 40th Anniversary

May 16, 2023

By John Corrado

The iconic 1983 dance movie Flashdance is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year, and Paramount is releasing the film for the first time in 4K Ultra HD this month.

Directed by Adrian Lyne (a commercial director making his feature debut), and produced by Jerry Bruckheimer, the film centres around Alex (Jennifer Beals), a working class girl in Pittsburgh who works by day on construction sites as a welder, and as an exotic dancer by night.

The film follows Alex as she embarks on a romance with her steel mill boss Nick (Michael Nouri), and tries to work up the courage to apply to the Pittsburgh Conservatory of Dance and fulfill her dreams of dancing full time.

If the follow your dreams story is fairly simple, Flashdance is a film that works due to the style with which it has been brought to the screen. The cinematography by Donald Peterman and extended dance sequences are what make it so entertaining to watch, with scenes often being cut like music videos by editors Walt Mulconery and Bud Smith. The action influences of producers Bruckheimer and the late Don Simpson, in their first collaboration together, are also felt throughout, including early evidence of the style they would later bring to Top Gun in 1986.

While Flashdance was panned by most critics at the time for essentially being all style and no substance (Roger Ebert infamously hated it), the film was a hugely influential commercial hit that became the third highest grossing movie of 1983 and got nominated for four Oscars (editing and cinematography as well as two original songs). As a whole, the film is admittedly a cut below Saturday Night Fever, a huge hit for Paramount six years earlier which the story seems at least partially modelled after, but Flashdance is still a very enjoyable dance movie that feels emblematic of its era.

It’s accompanied by the Grammy-winning, post-disco soundtrack overseen by Giorgio Moroder, which became a smash hit in its own right, including the Oscar-winning track “Flashdance… What a Feeling” (and the Oscar-nominated “Maniac”). Visually, this is a surprisingly dark picture at times that makes use of smoke and shadow, including in the opening scene at the steel mill and during the iconic water dance, and the remastered 4K presentation (approved by Lyne) offers good clarity throughout. The increased definition allows us to appreciate textures of clothing, and the glistening skin of dancing bodies, while still maintaining a nice, filmic look to it.

Bonus Features (4K Ultra HD):

There are no bonus features on the 4K disc, but the set comes bundled with a regular Blu-ray that includes several archival extras.

Filmmaker Focus: Director Adrian Lyne Discusses Flashdance (5 minutes, 51 seconds)

The Look of Flashdance (9 minutes, 12 seconds)

Releasing the Flashdance Phenomenon (8 minutes, 52 seconds)

Theatrical Trailer (1 minute, 41 seconds)

Flashdance: 40th Anniversary is a Paramount Home Entertainment release. It’s 94 minutes and rated 14A.

Street Date: May 9th, 2023

4K Ultra HD Review: Deep Impact: 25th Anniversary

May 16, 2023

By John Corrado

In honour of its 25th anniversary this year, Paramount has released the 1998 summer blockbuster Deep Impact for the first time on 4K Ultra HD.

Directed by Mimi Leder, and executive produced by Steven Spielberg, the film unfolds in the twelve months leading up to when a massive comet is expected to strike Earth, and offers a mix of full scale sci-fi spectacle, political intrigue, and multi-character drama.

While the film (which grossed nearly $350 million in the summer of ’98) was perhaps more popular with audiences than critics in its day, Deep Impact has held up due to its focus on characters reacting to the end of the world. This elevates the film beyond just empty spectacle, with a solid ensemble cast that helps ground it at key moments.

Téa Leoni stars as Jenny Lerner, a TV reporter who is tasked with reporting on this potential extinction level event. Robert Duvall is Captain Spurgeon Tanner, the veteran astronaut who is brought back to lead a covert American-Russian mission aboard the Messiah, a massive spaceship that is constructed to destroy the comet by planting nuclear bombs on its surface. Elijah Wood is Leo Beiderman, a young astronomer who first discovers the comet when peering up at the night sky. Finally, Morgan Freeman plays the President, who provides steady leadership in moments of crisis with his calmly reassuring speeches delivered in that resonant vocal tone.

The cast also includes Vanessa Redgrave, James Cromwell and Jon Favreau in supporting roles. While Deep Impact was released the same summer as Michael Bay’s similarly themed Armageddon, the film carves out enough of its own identity due to its focus on dramatic character moments between the giant set-pieces. Free from the self-awareness plaguing many modern blockbusters, Deep Impact instead has a proper sense of dread running through it that reminded me of the 1951 adaptation of The War of the Worlds.

This is a disaster movie that is allowed to build with suspense and moments of devastation, along with heart-on-sleeve emotion, while most importantly still being entertaining. The film is accompanied by an appropriately sweeping musical score by the late James Horner. The remastered 4K presentation (which includes Dolby Vision and HDR-10) offers a satisfying image, with decent black levels in the images of space, well-balanced skin tones in the closes ups on faces, and good clarity in the effects-heavy scenes.

Bonus Features (4K Ultra HD):

There are no bonus features on the 4K disc, but the set comes bundled with a regular Blu-ray that includes several archival extras. The package ships with a standard slipcover.

Commentary by Director Mimi Leder and Visual Effects Supervisor Scott Farrar

Preparing for the End (8 minutes, 56 seconds)

Making An Impact (12 minutes, 8 seconds)

Creating the Perfect Traffic Jam (6 minutes, 14 seconds)

Parting Thoughts (4 minutes, 50 seconds)

Photo Gallery

Teaser Trailer (2 minutes, 6 seconds)

Theatrical Trailer (3 minutes, 42 seconds)

Deep Impact: 25th Anniversary is a Paramount Home Entertainment release. It’s 121 minutes and rated PG.

Street Date: May 2nd, 2023

Review: The Longest Goodbye

May 13, 2023

By John Corrado

★★★ (out of 4)

With a manned mission to Mars now basically a matter of when and not if, one of the biggest questions that remains is how human astronauts will deal with the isolation on the three year mission that it takes to get to the Red Planet.

This question is explored in Israeli director Ido Mizrahy’s documentary The Longest Goodbye. The film features NASA psychologist Dr. Al Holland, who is trying to find a solution to these human problems, as scientific advancements make the Mars mission an inevitable reality in the near future.

Holland is researching not only the psychological impacts of isolation for prolonged periods of time, but also how to deal with the disconnect from their families, and being stuck in a confined space with other astronauts and crew members.

Mizrahy’s film explores possible solutions to these problems, such as using VR to simulate life back on Earth, or having the astronauts interact with a floating AI robot named Cimon, that is basically a white ball with a computer screen on the front and what looks like a simple, drawn-on face. The possibility of hibernation is also discussed in the film, but this raises the question of if one crew member would have to remain alert to wake the others when the three years are up.

Holland is notable for using some of the techniques he developed at NASA to help the trapped Chilean minors deal with adapting to isolation and being trapped together in a confined space, which is used as a case study in the film. Astronaut Catherine Coleman, who left her husband and son on Earth to board the International Space Station, is also featured, with the film showing how she had to adapt to interacting with her family via webcam.

Since there is still a lot we don’t actually know about what this sort of extreme isolation would do to people over the course of three years, The Longest Goodbye is more about reflecting on these questions than it is about offering conclusive answers. As such, the film offers a unique, almost contemplative viewing experience, with its engaging visuals, interesting sound design, and pensive musical score.

The Longest Goodbye opens in limited release on May 13th at Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema in Toronto.

New This Week (05/12/2023): BlackBerry, STILL: A Michael J. Fox Movie, Crater, & More!

May 12, 2023

By John Corrado

New releases for the week of May 12th, 2023.

Jay Baruchel in BlackBerry

Theatrical Releases:

BlackBerry (Wide Release): The latest from Canadian indie director Matt Johnson (The Dirties, Operation Avalanche), the tragicomic BlackBerry is a fast-paced and energetic look at the rise and fall of Waterloo, Ontario tech company Research in Motion and their once-mighty BlackBerry, carried by the compelling pairing of Jay Baruchel and a brilliantly ruthless Glenn Howerton. (Full Review)

Twice Colonized (Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema): The opening night film from the recently wrapped Hot Docs is coming back to the Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema this week. The film is a candid portrait of Inuit lawyer Aaju Peter, who was born in Greenland but moved to the Canadian Arctic, as she tries to establish a permanent forum for Indigenous Peoples at the European Union. (Full Review)

More Releases: Book Club: The Next Chapter (Wide Release), Fool’s Paradise (Limited), Knights of the Zodiac (Limited), The Longest Goodbye (Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema)

Streaming Releases:

STILL: A Michael J. Fox Movie (Apple TV+): Fresh off its screening at Hot Docs, director David Guggenheim’s documentary STILL: A Michael J. Fox Movie is being released on streaming this week. The film provides an entertaining biography of the actor, that cleverly uses clips from his films and TV shows to help tell story of his rise to fame and Parkinson’s diagnosis. It’s a moving, inspiring look at his choice to keep going and raise awareness of the disease. (Hot Docs 2023 Review)

Crater (Disney+): This Disney space adventure follows a group of kids living in a mining colony on the moon in the year 2257, who steal a rover to explore a far off crater. The film offers a mix of kids coming-of-age adventure movie and minor scale sci-fi drama, that explores some surprisingly darker themes. It’s a pretty good streaming choice, that delivers something enjoyable and with a decent-sized emotional impact. (Full Review)

Air (Prime Video): Ben Affleck’s latest directorial effort Air, which tells the story of the Nike executive (Matt Damon) who courted basketball player Michael Jordan to make the iconic shoe, is being released on Prime Video this week following a decent theatrical run. I missed this one in theatres so I just watched it on the streaming service, and really enjoyed it. It’s a solid, stylishly made crowdpleaser that features snappy dialogue and strong performances, with the standouts being Damon and Viola Davis as Jordan’s mother.

More Releases: The Mother (Netflix), The Muppets Mayhem (Disney+), Class of ’09 (Disney+)

Review: Twice Colonized

May 12, 2023

By John Corrado

★★★ (out of 4)

Aaju Peter, the subject of filmmaker Lin Allluna’s documentary Twice Colonized (which recently had its world premiere as the opening night film of Hot Docs), is an Inuit lawyer who was born in Greenland, but moved to the Canadian Arctic.

Living in Iqaluit, Aaju is perhaps most notable for her work defending the Canadian seal hunt against international bans on seal products. Many audiences were first introduced to her work in director Alethea Arnaquq-Baril’s 2016 documentary Angry Inuk, which focused on the impact these bans had on the Indigenous economy and way of life.

If Twice Colonized, which is produced by Arnaquq-Baril, lacks some of the ferocious power of Angry Inuk, this film is engaging in its own right, and serves as more of a candid portrait of Aaju, who allows the camera to have intimate access to her life.

Allluna closely follows Aaju as she meets with members of the Danish parliament, trying to establish a permanent forum for Indigenous Peoples at the European Union. This mission carries personal weight for her, as she was sent away to school in Denmark at age eleven, and was no longer able to speak her Greenlandic language when she returned home, which she considers a form of colonization.

The title of Twice Colonized comes from the name of Aaju’s forthcoming memoir, which we see her working on in the film, and it is very much a personal portrait of her. The documentary offers a decent introduction to her work, while also allowing for moments of vulnerability, such as showing her grieving her young adult son’s death by suicide, and dealing with an abusive boyfriend (who is never shown on camera, only heard on the phone).

In the film, we see Aaju emotionally going back home to Greenland to visit places from her childhood, and meeting with Sami people in Sweden who lived a similar experience of having their culture erased. Through this, Twice Colonized is able to show the way different forms of colonialism continue to impact people, while showcasing Aaju’s inspiring resilience and her choice to keep fighting in the face of all she has gone through.

Twice Colonized opens in limited release on May 12th, including at Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema in Toronto. It’s being distributed in Canada by Films We Like.

Review: Crater (Disney+)

May 12, 2023

By John Corrado

★★★ (out of 4)

The year is 2257, and a group of kids are living in a mining colony on the moon. For most of them, life on the third rock from the sun is all they have ever known. This is the premise behind Crater, a new sci-fi movie being released on Disney Plus that feels like an old school adventure from the studio.

It’s easy to imagine the pitch meeting going something like “Stand By Me meets The Goonies in space,” but Crater carves out enough of its own identity as a mix of kids coming-of-age adventure movie and minor scale sci-fi drama, that explores some surprisingly darker themes.

To fulfil a promise to his father (Scott Mescudi) who has just passed away, Caleb (Isaiah Russell-Bailey) wants to explore a crater on the lunar surface, before leaving the moon forever for his new life on Omega, a colony that is 75 years away and will require him to be cryonically frozen to get there. With the help of his three best friends Dylan (Billy Barratt), Borney (Orson Hong) and Marcus (Thomas Boyce), as well as shy Earth girl Addison (Mckenna Grace), the kids steal a rover during a meteor shower and embark on a road trip to visit this far off crater.

If the road trip setup allows for moments of buoyancy, most of these kids are also resigned to the fact that they were born on the moon, weren’t taught anything outside of mining, and might never get to leave the place. While Caleb is being fast-tracked to Omega due to a death benefit left by his father, the other kids will only be allowed to leave the moon after putting in twenty years of labour mining helium. But these contracts can be extended by years at a time, with uncompleted hours passed down through generations. It’s a heavy burden, and the teen angst between them is understandable.

Directed by Kyle Patrick Alvarez, from a screenplay by John Griffin, Crater is perhaps most notable for being produced by Shawn Levy, with this Stranger Things connection being a main selling point. The film does at times feel like it is only scratching the surface of some of the deeper ideas baked into its world-building, such as how this colony operates and the exploitation of workers on the moon, and the comedic beats can be a little clunky. But Crater works as a consistently entertaining space adventure, that explores classic coming of age themes through a sci-fi lens.

The chemistry between the kids is key to how well it plays, with them capably carrying almost the entire movie on their shoulders through both playful moments and more dramatic scenes. It’s no Ad Astra or Interstellar, but for a kids adventure movie set on the moon, Crater delivers something enjoyable and with a decent-sized emotional impact, as it builds to a somewhat surprisingly heavy ending.

(L-R): Isaiah Russell-Bailey as Caleb, Mckenna Grace as Addison, Orson Hong as Borney, Thomas Boyce as Marcus and Billy Barratt as Dylan in CRATER, exclusively on Disney+. Photo courtesy of Disney Enterprises, Inc. © 2023 Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Crater will be available to stream exclusively on Disney+ as of May 12th.

Review: BlackBerry

May 11, 2023

By John Corrado

★★★½ (out of 4)

The rise and fall of Waterloo, Ontario tech company Research in Motion, and their once-mighty BlackBerry, is charted in Canadian director Matt Johnson’s energetic and fast-paced film BlackBerry.

This latest feature from Johnson, who previously showed what he is capable of with his DIY indies Operation Avalanche and The Dirties, plays as a sort of The Social Network meets Wall Street (though The Big Short meets The Wolf of Wall Street would be an equally apt comparison).

It’s a saga of tech geeks becoming billionaires only to be undone by corporate greed, and Johnson keeps the film entertaining with his sharp, tragicomic take on the material; he smartly frames it as the story of a friendship falling apart amidst the birth of the modern smartphone.

The year is 1996, and nerdy tech genius Mike Lazaridis (Jay Baruchel) and his goofball best friend Doug Fregin (Matt Johnson) have cracked the code of putting a computer in a cellphone, inventing a device that makes phone calls, sends emails, and fits in the palm of your hand. It combines your phone, pager, and personal computer into one, complete with a satisfyingly clicky little keyboard.

They call it the PocketLink, and the opening scene finds them awkwardly trying to sell it to Jim Balsillie (Glenn Howerton), a hurried executive who brushes them aside. But Balsillie eventually comes crawling back with an offer to go into business with them to help sell their product, with the stipulation that he is made co-CEO of Research in Motion (RIM) alongside Lazaridis. This concession is one of the first signs of selling out, and a fracturing of the close friendship between Lazaridis and Fregin, who flinches at putting this corporate attack dog in charge of their scrappy startup.

The film charts the early days of RIM, with an office that is run more like a geeky dorm room, including video game sessions and weekly movie nights hosted by film nerd Doug. This all changes when Balsillie enters the picture, whipping the team of engineers into shape and upscaling the production to meet the newfound demands of the business class who want their device. We watch as the company rises to the top, before it all comes crashing down around them, partially due to the release of Apple’s iPhone.

Adapted from Jacquie McNish and Sean Silcoff’s non-fiction book Losing the Signal: The Untold Story Behind the Extraordinary Rise and Spectacular Fall of BlackBerry, BlackBerry is a film of business rivalries and backroom deals as much as it is about tinkering over circuit boards. Johnson, who co-wrote the screenplay with Matthew Miller, cuts the material down to its essential elements, showing the exact moments when the once-idealistic Lazaridis bows to pressure from Balsillie and sells out, perhaps inadvertently dooming his company in the process.

It all unfolds in the span of two hours that fly by. Curt Lobb’s editing keeps the film ticking along at a good pace, while the kinetic, handheld camerawork by cinematographer Jared Raab, using long lenses and zoom-ins, gives it a fly-on-the-wall feel. The production design captures the aesthetic of the mid-1990s and early 2000s with its old cars, boxy computers, and dingy office spaces. Johnson’s character’s wardrobe of vintage movie and video game t-shirts, and a few key needle-drops, also help put us in the headspace of this time and place.

Johnson assembles a solid cast that includes plum roles for Saul Rubinek, Michael Ironside and Cary Elwes, and is fronted by the compelling pairing of Baruchel as the socially awkward tech genius and Howerton as the cutthroat businessman. Baruchel’s nervous, sympathetic portrayal of Lazaridis, and Howerton’s brilliantly ruthless portrayal of Balsillie, gives the film a push and pull that is gripping to watch. Howerton brings a venomous rage to the role that bursts off the screen. By contrast, Johnson’s earnest, shaggy dog portrayal of Fregin becomes almost heartbreaking.

While this is Johnson’s biggest, most mainstream production yet, BlackBerry still retains enough of a scrappy, indie movie vibe so that it doesn’t feel like the filmmaker is selling out. It also breaks open the boundaries of what we think of as a “Canadian film,” telling a Canadian story in an exciting, accessible way. It’s the balancing act between comedy and drama, satire and tragedy, that makes BlackBerry work so well, exemplified in Johnson’s wonderful staging of the bittersweet final moments.

BlackBerry opens exclusively in theatres on May 12th. It’s being distributed in Canada by Elevation Pictures.

Blu-ray Review: Knock at the Cabin (Collector’s Edition)

May 9, 2023

By John Corrado

Please note that this is a review of the Blu-ray release of Knock at the Cabin. For my full thoughts on the film itself, you can read my original review right here.

M. Night Shyamalan’s latest film, Knock at the Cabin, is being released on Blu-ray this week. Based on the novel The Cabin at the End of the World by Paul G. Tremblay, the film follows a couple (Ben Aldridge and Jonathan Groff) who are on vacation with their young daughter (Kristen Cui).

Things take a dark turn when four strangers (played by Dave Bautista, Nikki Amuka-Bird, Abby Quinn and Rupert Grint) appear armed with weapons and take the family hostage, believing that the world will end unless a sacrifice is made.

As I said in my review, Knock at the Cabin is “a bleak, gripping, thought-provoking film.” The majority of the film takes place in this cabin, which Shyamalan uses to establish a sense of claustrophobia, along with the always interesting cinematography.

The committed performances by the small ensemble cast are also key to the film’s success, with Bautista giving a very strong dramatic performance that is some of his finest work. But it’s the deeper religious themes of Shyamalan’s film that kept me invested, build around a compelling moral dilemma. While the ending is bound to divide some audiences, I liked this one overall. It’s a solid chamber piece thriller that warrants a recommendation.

Film Rating: ★★★ (out of 4)

Bonus Features (Blu-ray):

The Blu-ray includes a decent amount of bonus content. A regular DVD is also included in the package, which ships with a slipcover.

Deleted Scenes (Play All – 5 minutes, 35 seconds)

They Need Some Time (1 minute, 31 seconds)

Going to Church (1 minute, 34 seconds)

Enjoying the Sun (56 seconds)

Leonard Explains (1 minute, 31 seconds)

Chowblaster Infomercial – Extended (1 minute, 10 seconds): The full version of the fake infomercial, featuring Shyamalan in his obligatory cameo.

Choosing Wisely: Behind the Scenes of Knock at the Cabin (23 minutes, 37 seconds): A surprisingly in-depth look at the story, characters, religious themes of the film, and the importance of casting openly gay actors in the leading roles.

Tools of the Apocalypse (5 minutes, 3 seconds): A closer look at the unique weapons that the Four Horsemen carry in the film.

Drawing a Picture (3 minutes, 36 seconds): A closer look at Shyamalan’s extensive use of storyboards to map out the film.

Kristen Cui Shines a Light (3 minutes, 46 seconds): The two leads talk about working with a child actress, while Cui talks about her experience on set.

Knock at the Cabin is a Universal Pictures Home Entertainment release. It’s 100 minutes and rated 14A.

Street Date: May 9th, 2023

%d bloggers like this: