Words: Rob DeStefano

This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but a whimper.

Must Love Dogs would not have been 2012’s antecedent if Mr. Cusack agreed with T.S. Eliot’s heresy. Semantics aside, the countdown has begun. In light of this, IF reviews earth’s final January release schedule, and assuming the movies will be as barren as prior winter slosh, we’ve included our weekly apocalyptic DVD picks.

Friday: January 6
Pick – Beneath the Darkness

This year’s mandatory exorcism comes in the hollow shell of The Devil Inside, which relies on the gritty realism of handicam horror that seems all too contrived here. There are three smaller releases for this date, ranging from mediocre to Dennis Quaid. Roadie is about one of Blue Oyster Cult’s assistants who returns home in his forties after years spent migrating with the band. It’s a hometown drama that has been generating mixed reviews, though it should strike a chord with Long Island natives. What falls in the middle of the mediocre and Dennis Quaid scale is the Japanese love story Norwegian Wood – adapted from Haruki Murakami’s novel. The film’s emotional content has received praise, but it’s the visual style that has been considered undeniably beautiful. Finally, there’s the indie horror/thriller Beneath the Darkness, which casts actors in their late twenties as high school students and Dennis Quaid as a psycho who dances with corpses. Already a top contender for 2012’s Best Unintentional Comedy? For this reason, it’s our pick of the week.

Skip the Theater: Our DVD pick of the week to humorously celebrate the end-of-days vibe is Ed Wood’s Plan 9 from Outer Space (1959).

Friday: January 13
Pick – Don’t Go in the Woods

It’s another weekend to avoid wide releases and the outdoors: this pick should be available for most VOD, under the Tribeca section. It’s an indie horror-musical about members of an amateur band who isolate themselves for a writing workshop, only to find out they’re not alone. It looks and sounds campy – to preserve the trip’s organic approach, one of the musicians dramatically uses an axe to break his friends’ cell phones. Even if its laughs aren’t deliberate, it might still be amusing.

Other choices include Joyful Noise, which should drop the adjective, and Contraband, a heist movie starring Mark Wahlberg – along with Eddie Murphy and Ben Stiller, together at last! Beauty and the Beast is being re-released in 3D today, but it’s been decided that only Roddy Piper can pull off the glasses.

Skip the Theater: Celebrate Friday the 13th with the tense and absurd apocalyptic tale The Signal (2007), a three chapter account – each from a different perspective – of a deadly media transmission that induces inexplicable violence.

Friday: January 20
Pick – Haywire

Kate Beckinsale and hubby Len Wiseman churn out another Vampire verses Lycan battle, now titled Underworld: Awakening. The new subtitle hopes to enlighten the franchise’s producers: no one likes these movies. Also experiencing a wide release is Red Tails, the story of African Americans who are given the unorthodox privilege to act alongside Bryan Cranston, and also to become fighter pilots in WWII. Despite George Lucas’s producing credits, its trailer makes it feel more like a video game than an engaging film. This leaves us with Steven Soderbergh’s thriller Haywire, staring Michael Fassbender, Ewan McGregor, Michael Douglas, Antonio Banderas, Bill Paxton, and fuck, Channing Tatum. It’s about a female assassin (Gina Carano) who must fight for her life after the CIA betrays her. It’s familiar territory – not far from last year’s Colombiana – but Soderbergh’s steady hand and the cast’s general likeability should make it work.

On a side note, its writer, Lem Dobbs, is also responsible for a movie titled Hider in the House, about a lunatic who hides in the attic of a house and monitors its inhabitants. This lurking creep is played by the one and only Gary Busey. Hider in the House

Skip the Theater: If you can’t get your hands on Hider in the House, resort to Roman Polanski’s Repulsion (1965) to experience Catherine Deneuve’s inward equivalence of an apocalypse.

Friday: January 27
Pick – Declaration of War

One for the Money contains the Heigl Monster and therefore can be dismissed instantly. The Grey is strangely reminiscent of Red Riding Hood. And Man on a Ledge can come off the ledge however he chooses, since our attention is on Declaration of War, a French film which opened at Cannes last year and is France’s submission to this year’s Academy Awards. The plot involves a young couple’s battle with their baby’s cancer. It sounds bleak, but the result looks uniquely romantic and artful.

Skip the Theater: It’s going to be a limited release for this week’s pick, so alternatively try and secure a copy of Gregg Araki’s The Doom Generation (1995) for a sexy, twisted, and hazy Judgement Day.

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