STORY WRITTEN BY AMY LONGSDORF
For Digital First Media
Expect to be scared out of your wits by “Lights Out,” a lean, mean thrill machine about a terrifying spirit who only appears in the shadows after the lights have been turned off.
Teresa Palmer stars as a young woman who is haunted by the same ghost that her mentally unstable mother (Maria Bello) has been seeing — and talking to — for years. First time director David F. Sandberg rubs your emotions raw with a startling backstory while keeping the central plot popping with one gasp-inducing jolt after another. On Amazon, iTunes, Google, Vudu.
Also New To Streaming
Our Kind of Traitor: Once you get past director Susanna White’s decision to shoot this espionage thriller through what occasionally looks like the bottom of a beer bottle, there’s much to enjoy about the saga of two Brits (Ewan McGregor, Naomie Harris) who, while on vacation, befriend a Russian (Stellan Skarsgard) money launderer. Before you can say “The Man Who Knew Too Much,” the pair is sucked into a life-and-death struggle involving the mafia, MI6 and crooked politicians. There’s some well-staged action scenes but the beauty of the movie, which is based on a John le Carre novel, is how powerfully White captures the buried feelings of men facing their own mortality. On Amazon, iTunes, Google, Vudu
Schneider vs. Bax: For his follow-up to the bizarre “Borgman,” Dutch helmer Alex Van Warmerdam uncorks a deadpan comedy in the Coen Brothers tradition about two rival hitmen (Van Warmerdam, Tom Dewispelaere) who’ve been hired to off each other. The action unreels over the course of a wild afternoon as the two assassins prepare for a showdown. But, hilariously, they have to deal with plenty of complications along the way including nosy wives, depressed daughters and pervy fathers. Totally unpredictable, deliciously cinematic and funny as hell, this movie slides into a dark groove and stays there until its freaky but fitting finale. On Amazon, iTunes, Google, Vudu
Last Cab To Darwin: Here’s a road trip drama about a dying cab driver (Michael Caton) who leaves his home in Broken Hill to journey through the heart of the country to Darwin, where a physician (Jacki Weaver) promises to help him end his life. On his cross-country quest, he meets a handful of memorable characters, including a free-spirited backpacker (Emma Hamilton) and a mixed-up drifter (Mark Coles Smith). It might sound maudlin but it’s anything but. Written and directed by Jeremy Sims with a black comic flair, the acutely-observed “Last Cab” is a trip worth taking. On Amazon, iTunes, Google, Vudu
Short Cut: Based on Raymond Carver’s short stories and poems, this comedy about a handful of troubled Los Angelinos (Jack Lemmon, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Andie MacDowell, Anne Archer, Lily Tomlin) is served pitch black, no sweetener. Between bouts of stinging humor, director Robert Altman has a lot to say about the epic differences between women and men; and the lack of communication that divides families. Along with “The Player,” this absorbing masterpiece marked a return to form for the maverick of 1970s cinema. On FilmStruck.com
Good Girls Revolt: Newsroom dramas are rare these days but this time capsule drama set in 1969 is sure to make headlines. The series centers on a group of young female researchers at Newsweek who sued to be treated fairly by their male editors. Inspired by Lynn Povich’s book of the same name, the series stars Anna Camp, Jim Belushi, Joy Bryant and Grace Gummer as journalist Nora Ephron. On Amazon Prime.
MDA Telethon Presents: If you grew up in the ‘60s and ‘70s, you’ll remember how big an occasion Jerry Lewis’ annual MDA Labor Day Telethons were. Broadcast live, the Telethons spanned five decades from 1966 to2014 and presented hundreds of music, comedy and Broadway performers as well as dozens of special interludes between Lewis and various celebrities. Now, you can sample some of those classic moments thanks to a series of 30-60 minute long episodes grouped into a variety of different themes. Episodes now available for streaming include Stand-Up Comedy Showcase, Today’s Pop and R&B and 80s Flashback. On Shout Factory TV.
For the Kids
Peppa Pig: Sun, Sea and Snow: You’ll be snorting with laughter at the adventures of Peppa and her clan as they partake in plenty of wintry fun, including a super ski day, a muddy- puddle-jumping interlude and a most unusual trip to the seaside. Gear up for a dozen fun-packed Peppasodes. On Amazon, iTunes, Google, Vudu
Teen Wolf: Season 5 Part 2: Still going strong after five seasons, the latest batch of episodes of the MTV series are, are as one critic put it, “generous with insanity.” It’s been a particularly crazy season for Scott (Tyler Posey), the titular wolfman, who spends a good deal of time struggling to put his pack back together again. He needs to move fast to stop the last Dread Doctors’ creation, a creature known as the Beast, who is poised to wreck havoc in Beacon Hills. On Amazon, iTunes, Google, Vudu
Super Mansion: Season 1: Straight from Crackle comes the latest animated series created by the producers of “Robot Chicken.” Bryan Cranston voices Titanium Rex, an aging superhero who becomes a mentor to a new crop of younger superheroes. Much to Titanium’s dismay, they’re all thrown together at a mansion where the youngsters must learn how to harness their superpowers. Also providing voices are Chris Pine, Seth Green, Keegan-Michael Key and Ron Perlman. On Amazon, iTunes, Google, Vudu