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DVD reviews: ‘Personal Shopper’ and ‘Annabelle’ sequel keep activity paranormal

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Preston Barta

There’s something about this fun time of year that ratchets up the scare level. Considering we’re a little over a week away from Halloween, horror movie aficionados will be elated that home entertainment is dripping with so much delicious blood.

Personal Shopper

Rated R, 105 minutes.

Available Tuesday on DVD and Blu-ray through the Criterion Collection.

3.5 of 5 stars

Joining the Criterion Collection this week, Personal Shopper follows Maureen (a never-better Kristen Stewart), a personal shopper who refuses to leave Paris until she makes contact with her deceased brother. The siblings were diagnosed with the same heart condition and made a pact to communicate with each other beyond the grave. But Maureen’s life becomes extremely complicated when another spirit contacts her.

Most of Personal Shopper’s intrigue comes in the first half, when our character is slowly trying to figure out what’s going on, as filmmaker Olivier Assayas (Clouds of Sils Maria) creatively plays around with the cards in his deck. But once the story introduces the concept of another spirit, the film loses some traction. This is not an in-your-face film; it wants to exist in your head and to get you thinking more about the psychology of its titular character. While the whole does not equal the sum of the parts, there’s enough to stew on to make it a worthy Criterion purchase.

Extras: The Criterion Collection release includes a new interview with Assayas, a press conference featuring Stewart and other members of the cast and crew, a theatrical trailer and an essay by critic Glenn Kenny.

Annabelle: Creation (4 stars) - The Conjuring universe continues to expand with Annabelle: Creation, a prequel to the 2014 dud Annabelle. The new film once again revolves around the creepy titular doll, Annabelle, that is possessed by a demon and becomes a living nightmare for a group of orphans who learn of its existence.

Lights Out director David F. Sandberg takes a lot of cues from franchise creator James Wan, but he utilizes his own tools for scaring. He allows the story to breathe and injects credibility. It doesn’t even have to be nighttime for Sandberg to make you scream. He builds up dread throughout and unleashes a crowd-pleasing horror.

Rated R, 109 minutes.

Extras: The Warner Bros. Home Entertainment release includes deleted scenes, a making-of, horror shorts, a director’s featurette and audio commentary.

War for the Planet of the Apes (4 stars) - In this third (and maybe final) chapter in the rebooted Planet of the Apes series, we pick up with Caesar (an award-worthy motion-captured and vocal performance by Andy Serkis) and his new society as their fight between the remaining immune humans intensifies, especially when one human leader (Woody Harrelson) is hellbent on making sure only one species survives this “war.”

By the time the film concludes, no real war takes place. There is conflict here, but it doesn’t reveal itself to be a big showdown between apes and humans. This is more of a Moses-like journey for Caesar to lead his people out of bondage and into freedom. It’s beautifully realized and more captivating and unique because of it.

Rated PG-13, 142 minutes.

Extras: The Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment release includes 10 deleted scenes with optional audio commentary by Reeves, six behind-the-scene featurettes, concept art gallery and a feature audio commentary with Reeves.

Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me (3 stars) - You really have to be a David Lynch fan to appreciate Fire Walk with Me, a prequel to Lynch and Mark Frost's earlier TV series Twin Peaks (recently rejuvenated on Showtime). The 1992 film comes from a mind that barely feels a part of this world. So much weirdness happens in its two-plus-hour running time that I wouldn’t put it past anyone turning it off. It really takes a certain kind of mood for one to embark on this voyage of mystery.

David Lynch created a time capsule with <i>Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me</i>.
David Lynch created a time capsule with Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me.

The true purpose of the film is correct the path the show’s second season took, which got away from Lynch due to creative differences with the network. It also (sort of) answers the question of why and how Laura Palmer (Sheryl Lee) died — one of the main mysteries of the series. Plus, to see the series cast come together with new faces (David Bowie and Kiefer Sutherland) in a more obscure light really awakens the Twin Peaks phenomenon. As long as you expect little tangibility, you might find yourself entertained.

Rated R, 135 minutes.

Extras: The Criterion Collection release (available now) includes 90 minutes of deleted and alternate takes from the film, a 2014 interview with Lynch and the cast, new interviews with Lee and composer Angelo Badalamenti, trailers and a special booklet.

Summer of Fear (3.5 stars) - Most movies about witchcraft would be overloaded with computer-generated effects and a busy storyline to send viewers’ heads spinning. But the late Wes Craven is better than that.

His 1978 film Summer of Fear concerns a teenage girl named Rachel (The Exorcist’s Linda Blair) who begins to suspect that her cousin Julia (Lee Purcell) is a witch after she moves in with her family. When the rest of family is charmed by her, Rachel believes she has them under a spell.

For a made-for-TV movie, Summer of Fear is a solid thriller. Craven’s slow-burn structure is quite fitting and it draws audiences in while mounting the family’s suspicions with just the right creepy delicacy.

Rated PG-13. 92 minutes.

Extras: The Doppelganger Releasing DVD (available today) includes an audio commentary with Craven, a new interview with Blair, an original trailer, and a photo and poster gallery.

Also available this week: Bushwick, The Emoji Movie, The Good Catholic, An Inconvenient Sequel, Planetarium, Saving Hope: Season 5, Teen Wolf: Season 6 - Part 2, and Warrior (on 4K Ultra HD).

PRESTON BARTA is a member of the Dallas-Fort Worth Film Critics Association. Read his work on FreshFiction.tv. Follow him on Twitter @PrestonBarta.

FEATURED IMAGE: Kristen Stewart as Maureen Cartwright in "Personal Shopper."Photo courtesy of Carole Bethuel/IFC Films.