Source Code

Coolest extra: Audio commentary with Jake Gyllenhaal and director Duncan Jones (DVD/Blu-ray)

Complex says: Jake Gyllenhaal sure is determined to become an action star. His current batting average in that game: 1-2. The strikeout came last summer, when the proficient dramatic actor was miscast in the soulless video game adaptation The Prince Of Persia: The Sands Of Time; Source Code, however, is a step in the right direction. Though Gyllenhaal’s performance is solid enough to not ruin anything, the film’s creative success should mostly be credited to director Duncan Jones, who keeps the pace swift, the visual effects non-distracting, and the characters prevalent.

Gyllenhaal plays a military captain who’s unwittingly taking part in an untested government project known as Source Code, through which he’s repeatedly transported into the body of a doomed train passenger. His mission, even though he never chose to accept it, is to uncover a terrorist bomber’s identity within eight minutes, and every time he fails, the train explodes and he’s forced to relive the experience Groundhog Day style.

It’s a nifty concept, one that liberally borrows from Inception as much as it does the aforementioned Bill Murray comedy. Interestingly, Jones and screenwriter Ben Ripley opt away from a drawn-out whodunit mystery; halfway into Source Code, the bad guy’s face is revealed, changing the film’s trajectory toward a more redemptive story. Which, as a result, bestows plenty of heavy dramatic lifting for Gyllenhaal, who’s sufficiently up to the task.

Source Code does misfire in a few key ways, namely by making its mad bomber one of the least impactful film antagonists in recent memory. Also, Ripley’s script is prone to the occasional bit of unintentionally amusing dialogue (the Good Will Hunting jack-move “How do you like them apples?”). At a scant 85 minutes long, though, Jones’ brisk sci-fi thriller moves so fast that such gaffes pass by with the quickness, leaving viewers susceptible to Source Code’s high-octane charms.

Buy it now: Source Code

 

Dylan Dog: Dead Of Night

Coolest extra: None available, meaning the filmmakers themselves didn’t consider this bomb worthy of further exploration (DVD/Blu-ray)

Complex says: Someone needs to explain why Dylan Dog: Dead Of Night received a theatrical release and Mega-Python vs. Gatoroid didn’t. In essence, this abysmal comic book adaptation is just as low-rent, with the same degrees of terrible acting and lame-brained storytelling as the worst of SyFy’s direct-to-cable movies. Although there’s a huge difference: flicks like those Dincroc joints are at least entertainingly bad. Dylan Dog is just downright excruciating.

Further sinking below Hollywood’s in-demand list, Brandon Routh (who at one time played Superman—go figure) brings his typically vapid presence to the titular role of a P.I. who assists the undead. Admittedly, that’s a cool premise, one that’s explored to much better effects in writer Tiziano Sclavi’s comic series; here, it’s just an excuse to parade around a bunch of poorly rendered werewolves, zombies, and bloodsuckers.

In stronger hands, Dylan Dog could’ve reached Hellboy-like levels of campy fun, but, alas, director Kevin Munroe is no Guillermo del Toro. Shit, he’s barely superior to Uwe Boll in this case.

Buy it now: Dylan Dog: Dead Of Night

 

We Are What We Are

Coolest extra: None available, though, in this case, that’s a damn shame (DVD)

Complex says: First-time writer-director Jorge Michel Grau makes one hell of a first impression with this Mexican language horror/drama. One of the year’s best films thus far, We Are What We Are walks the fine line between well-paced character development and all-out grotesquery, following a mother and her three kids as they adjust to the sudden death of the family’s patriarch. Oh, and they’re all cannibals, gathering around the dinner table to ritually slaughter people the children lure back home (often on the promise of hanky-panky) and munch on their innards.

A more nuanced filmmaker than most of his genre peers, Grau saves the gory bits for the final act, dedicating the majority of his alarmingly powerful debut to establishing the family’s dysfunction and the eldest son’s growing displeasure with such a horrific lifestyle. Once the viscera piles up, We Are What We Are has built its characters up so delicately that its brutal, extremely downbeat climax impacts emotionally.

Those looking for the next Inside (i.e., a foreign horror movie that devastates through hardcore gore) should keep on searching—Mexico’s best genre import since Guillermo del Toro’s Cronos (1993) has far loftier themes to address. We Are What We Are is easily the week’s top home video release. Give it a look, folks.

Buy it now: We Are What We Are