Staff at the renowned video store and nonprofit archive highlight the best in this month’s new DVD and Blu-ray releases.
Happy Death Day
Christopher B. Landon’s (Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones) bloody spin on the classic Groundhog Day-premise tells the story of a college student who wakes up every morning on her birthday and every evening gets murdered by an individual in a baby mask. Desperate to end the loop, she must live the day over and over again to unmask her killer. What has the potential to be a repetitive, predictable slasher maintains an entertaining mix of darkly witty Kevin Williamson-esque dialogue and suspense. —Emalie Soderback
Director Anthony Mann and cinematographer John Alton were textbook examples of artists maximizing their low budget and using it to great artistic effect. In this minor masterpiece, menacing camera angles, darkly lit interrogation rooms, dreamy voice-over and pyrotechnics combine with note-perfect characterizations from a sadistic Raymond Burr, good girl Marsha Hunt, femme fatale Claire Trevor and poor schmuck Dennis O’Keefe. —Mark Steiner
Blade Runner 2049
This sequel has just as much—if not more—absurdly portentous, meticulously designed hypno-drone than its progenitor, but it also upends the original’s legacy. A person who might be a machine is swapped out for a machine terrified by the idea that he might be a real boy. A world we last saw oppressively teeming with overpopulation is now desiccated, nearly dead. Memories that made these beings closer to humans now render them slaves to that fabricated humanity. —Matt Lynch
Chasing the Dragon
Donnie Yen and Andy Lau pair up for the first time in this corrupt cops-and-mobsters drama from the extraordinarily prolific Wong Jing. The plot is loosely based on a real-life gangster named Crippled Ho who, in the late 1960s, became one of Hong Kong’s top drug lords with the help of a dirty cop named Lee Rock. —Spenser Hoyt