A good week for variety saw old stuff and new stuff sharing shelf space and offering all sorts of diversions for viewers.
“Occulus” — Horror fans will enjoy this lean chiller that has plenty of tricks up its sleeve and does not rely on shaky camera work for chills. The story follows a young man who is released from prison after being convicted of killing his father. His sister is waiting for him and she has gotten her hands on what they consider the real culprit — an evil mirror than can possess the living. As the film proceeds, some things may not make sense, but stick with it, because this is a clever flick and all will be revealed.
“Divergent” — Welcome to the future, where people are divided into groups by society. These placements are done according to personality indicators. The film explores what happens to those who don’t fit into any groups. These people are labeled “Divergent” and a plot is afoot to remove them from the equation. A clever concept that was explored in a series of young adult novels comes to the screen and proves to be an entertaining drama that melds science fiction with drama and action.
“Grizzly” — Horror fans will enjoy this re-release of William Girdler’s “jaws with paws.” The film has a killer bear running amok at a state park and eating campers like Doritos tossed out of a Winnebago. Girdler was Kentucky’s first horror maestro and he would return with the bigger budgeted “Day of the Animals.” He died way too young but his films prove he had the stuff and would have gone on to higher budgets and bigger concepts had a helicopter crash not halted his career.
“The Naked City: Season 4” — The final season of the gritty New York-set crime series goes out with a bang. Thirty-four episodes featuring some of the biggest screen talent of all time includes appearances by Martin Sheen, Gene Hackman, Robert Duvall, Jack Klugman, Jon Voight, Dustin Hoffman and Christopher Walken. the Hallmark of the series (lensed in glorious black and white on the streets of New York) was spending half of each episode following the backstory of the criminal as the detectives closed in on their suspect. It holds up today, thanks to excellent scripts from Stirling Silliphant that emphasized the extreme conditions that cause people to turn to crime.