New Blu-Ray Releases: 'Unfriended: Dark Web', 'Sicario: Day Of The Soldado', 'Mandy', 'Trick 'R Treat'

(Welcome to Not Dead Yet, a feature dedicated to new Blu-ray releases and what special features you should be excited about. Because yes, some of us still like to own physical copies of our movies.)

Yeah, streaming is cool, but have you ever heard of Blu-ray? It's a magical disc that you insert in a box, and it plays movies! More than that, it also plays special features about those movies! Pretty neat, if you ask me. Here, let me tell you about the latest Blu-ray releases, including a sequel to Unfriended, a sequel to Sicario, a psychedelic nightmare, and a fun horror anthology.

Here are the new Blu-ray releases and their special features you should check out this week and beyond.

Unfriended: Dark Web

Hide your laptops – Unfriended is back! This sequel to 2014's surprisingly effective computer-screen-based horror film removes anything supernatural and instead gets down to cold, hard thriller territory. As a result, it's a sequel in name only. And that's fine – many horror movies take this approach, and I'd much rather focus on a new story instead of having the last film's computer ghost attack more people.

In Unfriended: Dark Web, young lovestruck man Matias thinks he's hit the jackpot when he finds a laptop at his work's lost and found. After no one claims it for weeks, Matias takes it home and begins playing around with it. He's in the midst of building an app in order to better communicate with his deaf girlfriend Amaya. But this is no normal laptop. Instead, it appears to have been the property of someone who trafficks in extremely illegal stuff on the infamous dark web.

Soon, Matias and all his pals are video chatting, and fighting for their lives as an underground network of dark web users threatens their lives. The plotting in Dark Web can grow a bit needlessly complicated, and some of the things the villains are able to do here are logically impossible. But you get so swept up in the narrative that you're willing to forgive the flaws. It's not as scary as the first Unfriended, but it's incredibly intense, and the computer screen presentation does a marvelous job sucking you into the narrative. I'm all for more of these movies using the same storytelling method, but telling different creepy stories.

Special Features to Note:

The only special features here are a set of three alternate endings. Warning: SPOILERS follow.

Still here? Ok, that means you're fine with spoilers. In the theatrical cut of Dark Web, everyone dies – Matias, his buddies, and, presumably, Amaya. It's dark and bleak. Here, we get one alternate ending where Matias & Amaya both live while the others die. Like the theatrical cut, the dark web users set up a poll to decide who lives and dies, and after a touching video of Matias talking about his love for Amaya plays, the folks of the dark web decide to take mercy and spare their lives. It's a much less depressing ending than the one in theaters, but probably wouldn't fit with the nature of the film itself.

Beyond this we have two other alternate endings: one where Matias fails to save Amaya, and contemplates killing himself, with the dark web users voting if he'll go through with the suicide or not. In the final alternate ending, Matias gets buried alive in a grave, and while Amaya eventually shows up to the spot where he's buried, she can't hear him pounding under the earth due to deafness. Of all the alternate endings, this might have worked best, because it spares Amaya – who has been oblivious to everything going on the entire movie.

Special Features Include:

  • Alternate Endings: Who Deserves to Live?

Sicario: Day of the Soldado

The first Sicario was like a horror movie in everything but name. Denis Villeneuve's almost unbearably tense thriller played out like a loose Silence of the Lambs remake: Emily Blunt's wide-eyed FBI agent was like Jodie Foster's Clarice Starling; Josh Brolin's rough-n-tumble CIA Agent was the equivalent of Foster's boss, played by Scott Glenn; and that made Benicio del Toro Hannibal Lecter – the dangerous man being consulted to help stop another dangerous man. On paper, the story was somewhat simple, but in Villeneuve's hands, Sicario became one of 2015's best movies.

That doesn't mean it needed a sequel though. But here we are, with Sicario: Day of the Soldado. Blunt's character is gone, and that's a huge mistake. Instead, Day of the Soldado focuses on Brolin and del Toro, and while both are dynamite actors, Blunt's absence is felt. Here, Brolin recruits del Toro to kidnap the daughter of a kingpin with hopes of starting a drug war. Needless to say, things don't exactly go according to plan.

Day of the Soldado is brutal and bleak, and del Toro does incredible work as the quiet, morally ambiguous Alejandro. Isabela Moner is also a highlight playing the kidnapped girl, who forms an uneasy bond with Alejandro. But Day of the Soldado is missing that spark that made Sicario so memorable. Stefano Sollima's director pales in comparison to Villeneuve's, and the cinematography, by Dariusz Wolski, is murky, muddy and drab, and can't hold a candle to Roger Deakins' jaw-dropping work in the first film. At most, watching Day of the Soldado is going to make you want to go back and rewatch the first Sicario instead.

Special Features to Note:

"Continuing The Story" serves as an explainer as to why a sequel is happening. This starts off with footage from the first film, and boy oh boy, is that a mistake. Seeing the Sicario footage hammers home how much better it is than this follow-up. The big takeaway here is that one of the driving forces of the sequel was Benicio del Toro: he was curious to see what happened to his character following the end of the first movie.

"Making The Movie" is a crash-course into the production, with producers going so far as to call Day of the Soldado "Sicario on steroids!" While the original movie had action, I wouldn't call it an "action movie." Day of the Soldado, however, leans into the action, and that's talked about here – the producers wanted to "raise the bar" and increase the action. Over and over again, the folks interviewed here stress that the idea with the follow-up was to tell a similar story, but on a much larger canvas. And since Villeneuve brought his own team to the first movie, almost an entirely new crew was needed for this follow-up.

"The Cast & Characters" delves into Brolin and del Toro's characters, and the actor's approaches to playing them. It's underlined that in the first movie, Brolin and del Toro's characters remained pretty much the same at the end of the movie as they were at the start, while Emily Blunt changed. Here, the opposite happens: Blunt is gone, and now, by the end of the movie, but Brolin and del Toro have changed considerably.

Special Features Include:

  • "From Film to Franchise: Continuing the Story"
  • "An Act of War: Making Sicario: Day of the Soldado"
  • "The Assassin and the Soldier: The Cast & Characters"

Mandy

Available on Blu-ray October 30, 2018

How does one even begin to describe Mandy? I think a quote from this psychedelic mind-f*** sums things up nicely: "The psychotic drowns where the mystic swims." Here, Nicolas Cage goes up against "bikers and gnarly psychos and crazy evil" as we watch, wide-eyed and slightly terrified.

Mandy is out of it's goddamn mind, yes. And Cage is an actor who gravitates towards bombast. But this isn't your typical "Nic Cage goes crazy!" movie. Save for a few freak-outs, Cage is actually somewhat reserved here, and he gives one of his very best performances. It's a heart-sick performance, loaded with rage and grief, and it's quite a sight to behold.

In this work of dangerous art from director Panos Cosmatos, Cage's Red Miller and his girlfriend Mandy (Andrea Riseborough) run afoul of a crazy cult, lead by icky psycho Jeremiah Sand (Linus Roache). In the face of tragedy, Red strikes out for revenge. But this isn't a simple revenge thriller. Instead, it's a journey into the heart of darkness. A gorgeous, horrifying nightmare brimming with cultish imagery, throwing off an overwhelming, dangerous energy. You've never seen a film like this, and you probably never will again.

Special Features to Note:

A dreamy, trippy making of featurette unfolds for almost a half hour. Rather than talking heads and clips from the film, we get slow zooms on still images as various people involved with the production narrate. Linus Roache confesses that when he first got the script, he "didn't get it." "I had no idea what this movie was," the actor says, but he slowly started to see that the film was an "extraordinary, mythological revenge story", calls it a "phantasmagorical, allegorical" story.

Director Panos Cosmatos adds that when he approaches a movie, he never thinks of terms of story. "The story is just a catalyst around which all these elements can be grown," the filmmaker says. He goes on to reveal he was inspired by all the stuff he liked as a kid – Fangoria, heavy metal music, cover art for horror movies, and so on.

Producer Elijah Wood had worked with Nicolas Cage previous, and he recommended Mandy to Cage, telling him to watch Cosmatos' previous film, Beyond the Black Rainbow. Cage did, and said it gave him nightmares.

Beyond that featurette, we get several deleted and extended scenes. This is one of those cases where every single cut scene was necessary – adding them back in would throw off the film's mad rhythm, Still, they're here if you're curious.

In one deleted scene at a gas station, the sheriff confronts Red and calls Mandy "a little slut" while continuously trying to goad Red into a confrontation. Red just laughs it off, and puts 6.66 worth of gas in his truck. Beyond that, we get a nice little moment where Red and Mandy cook dinner and tell jokes to each other. Another deleted scene has Jeremiah complaining to one of his followers. And there's also an extended sequence with actor Bill Duke. Best of all, though, is an extended version of the now-infamous Cheddar Goblin commercial.

Special Features Include:

  • Behind the Scenes
  • Deleted & Extended Scenes

Trick ‘r Treat

Michael Dougherty's Trick 'r Treat is a love letter to that most wonderful of holidays: Halloween. A triumph of production design, Dougherty's horror anthology film is a hoot – although I'll admit to wanting more. Part of that has to do with the overwhelming hype that built up around the movie.

After Dougherty completed the movie, Warner Bros. put it on a shelf, unsure what to do with it. Little by little, Trick 'r Treat began screening at festivals, and a steady wave of positive buzz began to build. It became something of a legend – a cult movie that demanded to be seen. When Warners finally dropped it on DVD, I snapped it up, very excited to finally lay eyes on this thing. By the time the end credits rolled, I couldn't help but think: "Is that it?"

In the year's since, I've grown to appreciate the movie more, which makes this new Blu-ray from Scream Factory a must-have. While I'm still not entirely on board with the tone – the movie leans into comedy far too often – I love the feel of the movie. Dougherty is very good at conjuring up the Halloween feel – warm orange light, scattered leaves, candles flickering behind jack-o-lantern grins. This movie looks incredible.

Like most anthology films, the stories are hit or miss. The best of the bunch involves Brian Cox as a miserable man dealing with a very unwelcomed trick-or-treater. Dougherty has teased a sequel to the film for years now, and while I'm not as enamored with Trick 'r Treat as some of my peers, I'd love to see it happen.

Special Features to Note:

There are a wealth of featurettes here about the production. One has Dougherty talking about the origins of the film. He originally made an animated short for film school, and from that, the feature grew.

This origin segment is good, but the real draw is the feature about the making of the film. Dougherty breaks down what it was like to make his feature debut, and his approach to the movie – and it's tone. "To me, Halloween isn't just about the horror," the director says. "There's a quality of fun." As a result, he wanted to make sure the movie wasn't full-blown horror – he wanted a playful element to it. He also pushed for practical effects, and won – the practical effects work here is a real highlight.

There's also a feature about the film's troubled release. Here, Dougherty discusses how the film didn't fit into the horror scene at the time, which was mostly made-up of torture porn and remakes. The studio didn't know what to make of the movie, but a cult following via film festivals helped ensure an eventual home video release. The rest is history.

Special Features Include:

  • NEW 2K Scan Of The Original Film Elements Supervised And Approved By Director Michael Dougherty
  • NEW Tales Of Folklore & Fright: Creating Trick 'r Treat – Including Interviews With Writer/Director Michael Dougherty, Conceptual Artist Breehn Burns, And Storyboard Artist Simeon Wilkins
  • NEW Tales Of Mischief & Mayhem: Filming Trick 'r Treat – In-depth Interview With Michael Dougherty On The Making Of The Film
  • NEW Sounds Of Shock & Superstition: Scoring Trick 'r Treat – Including Interviews With Michael Dougherty And Composer Douglas Pipes
  • NEW Tales Of Dread And Despair: Releasing Trick 'r Treat – A Look At The Release And Fandom With Michael Dougherty And Writer Rob Galluzzo
  • NEW 2K Scan Of The Original 16mm Elements of Season's Greetings – A Short Film By Michael Dougherty With Optional Commentary By Dougherty
  • NEW Storyboard And Conceptual Artwork Gallery
  • NEW Behind The Scenes Still Gallery
  • NEW Monster Mash – A Story From The Trick 'r Treat Graphic Novel
  • NEW FEARnet.com Shorts
  • Audio Commentary With Director Michael Dougherty
  • Trick 'r Treat: The Lore And Legends Of Halloween Featurette
  • Deleted And Alternate Scenes With Optional Commentary By Director Michael Dougherty
  • School Bus FX Comparison
  • Theatrical Trailer