This week, Blood Red Sky — Peter Thorwarth’s vampire horror hostage thriller, starring Peri Baumeister — lands on Netflix. After less than a month out in theaters, both The Forever Purge and Zola are now on video on demand. If that weren’t enough, we’ve got loads more new films: the crime thriller Midnight in the Switchgrass starring Megan Fox and Bruce Willis, the sci-fi thriller Settlers, starring Sofia Boutella of Kingsman: The Secret Service fame alongside Jonny Lee Miller, the action comedy Jolt starring Kate Beckinsale as a bouncer with anger issues, plus tons more!
To help you get a handle on what’s new and available, here are the movies you can watch on video on demand and streaming this weekend.
The Forever Purge
The fifth installment in the dystopian action horror series, The Forever Purge is set eight years after the events of 2016’s The Purge: Election Year, with the New Founding Fathers of America having regained control of the US government and re-instituted the annual Purge. Following the Purge’s resolution, a band of lawless marauders decide to prolong the Purge indefinitely, wrecking a wave of havoc as survivors attempt to protect themselves. From our review:
While the Purge franchise’s lack of subtlety is a big part of its charm, The Forever Purge is probably the biggest test of these movies’ unsubtle methods. There’s the delicious irony of a scenario where Americans desperately want to get into Mexico, but it’s burdened with a condescending execution. While Adela and Juan are ostensibly the protagonists, the Tucker family get all the actual character arcs. An overwhelming chunk of The Forever Purge’s brisk 103 minutes is devoted to the film’s Mexican immigrants saving the Tuckers’ lives, helping them survive, and furthering their moral development. It is, frankly, an insulting running thread that sours an otherwise deft horror-thriller.
Blood Red Sky
Where to watch: Available to stream on Netflix
Blood Red Sky, an action horror film directed by Peter Thorwarth, stars Peri Baumeister as Nadja, a woman with a mysterious illness who boards an overnight flight from Germany with her 10-year-old son. When a group of terrorists hijacks the plane and threatens the passengers, Nadja must make an impossible decision: leave them to their fate, or become the monster she’s worked so hard to hide, in order to save them all?
Adapted from a 2015 viral Twitter thread by Aziah “Zola” Wells, Zola follows the story of a stripper who embarks on a wild road trip to Florida and gets ensnared in a bizarre, deadly scheme involving sex work, murder, and profoundly odd characters. From our review:
... [L]ike Uncut Gems and The Farewell, Zola is the product of a new generation of filmmakers, late-age millennial auteurs who don’t need to bow down to the past and settle for pastiche. For Bravo, that means conveying the stress of our current moment, whether it’s a rap track devolving into Mica Levi-composed ambience, or letting the dialogue rip in loud, near-unintelligible ways. Zola is a confident film with a confident protagonist, and the agency on display is infectious.
Where to watch: Available to stream on Amazon Prime Video
Underworld star Kate Beckinsale stars in Tanya Wexler’s action comedy Jolt as Lindy, a beautiful and funny young woman who experiences periods of intense hyper-violent rage due to a mysterious neurological disorder she’s had since her youth. Relying on the help of a special electrode-lined vest invented by her trust physician Dr. Munchin (Stanley Tucci) to control her impulses, Lindy begins to feel as though she can pursue a normal life when she starts dating Justin (Jai Courtney), an unassuming accountant with a trustworthy disposition. However, when Lindy discovers that Justin has been murdered, she chooses to hone her long-simmering lifelong rage into a weapon in search of revenge and answers. From our review:
Jolt initially seems like a gender-switched version of Crank. That 2006 cult film and its 2009 sequel Crank: High Voltage both star Jason Statham as a hitman who, for various convoluted reasons, needs to keep his adrenaline high and his heart pumping, via fistfights, street races, public sex, and eventually by strapping himself to a car battery. Jolt isn’t as wonderfully ludicrous as those films, and it wastes a little too much time setting up a staid “All women want to be loved” narrative throughline. But when the film lets action-mode Beckinsale do what she does best, which is charm guys with her face, then punch their faces, Jolt clicks together.
Starring Jonny Lee Miller (Elementary) and Sofia Boutella (Kingsman: The Secret Service), Wyatt Rockefeller’s sci-fi thriller Settlers follows a family of explorers who, following a devastating ecological disaster, abandon Earth in hopes of eking out a new life on a nascent Martian colony. When the family takes in a mysterious stranger amid ongoing attacks by a group of marauding bandits, they’ll have to find a way to survive the planet’s harsh and barren terrain — along with each other. From our review:
Films could do worse than mimicking some of the narrative overlaps between Aliens and High Life, but Rockefeller only repeats other science fiction, rather than inventing big ideas of his own. The result is that the film’s most interesting ideas — Ilsa mournfully saying of Earth, “We don’t know where we’re from”; terraforming as a kind of genocide — go unexplored in favor of a story that scrapes low enough to propose sexual assault as character development. When Reza tells Remmy that someday, Mars is “gonna be just like Earth,” a braver sci-fi offering would spin that line as a warning.
Midnight In The Switchgrass
Bruce Willis and Megan Fox star in Randall Emmett’s Midnight in the Switchgrass as Karl Helter and Rebecca Lombardi, two FBI agents who cross paths in Florida when they’re brought in to help stop a serial killer. When their undercover sting collaboration with state officer Byron Crawford (Emile Hirsch) is blown, the three will have to work together in order to stay alive and catch the culprit.
And here’s what dropped last Friday:
Space Jam: A New Legacy
Where to watch: In theaters and available to stream on HBO Max
Space Jam: A New Legacy stars LeBron James as a fictionalized version of himself who, in a thwarted attempt to grow closer to his computer game-obsessed son Dom, is transported into the Warner Bros. Serververse and held captive by a nefarious artificial intelligence known as Al-G-Rhythm (Don Cheadle). To escape, LeBron must assemble the Looney Toons cast from across the corners of several Warner Bros. franchises and compete in a winner-takes-all basketball match against the Rhythm’s Goon Squad of virtual basketball icons like Anthony Davis and Klay Thompson. From our review:
The first Space Jam was born out of an attempt to sell sneakers. In a dizzying display of corporate dominance, the new Space Jam is trying to sell everything Warner Bros. has ever made. Space Jam: A New Legacy isn’t really a movie — it’s a crash course in vertical integration and brand identity, a marketing slideshow with a two-hour running time. Its viewers are taken on a whirlwind tour through every Warner IP geared toward every demographic: Wonder Woman’s Themyscira for girls and women, The Matrix for older men, Harry Potter for Old adults under 40 who haven’t been reading the news much, and so forth. This is how Hollywood works now. This is the future of blockbuster movies.
Fear Street Part Three: 1666
Where to watch: Available to stream on Netflix
The third and final film in Leigh Janiak’s Fear Street series, adapted from R.L. Stine’s books, skews the farthest from the established genre conventions of the former two installments with a period horror setting that plunges deep into the backstory of the trilogy’s ostensible antagonist, Sarah Fier. From our review:
Fear Street: 1666 pulls back the veils of time in order to exhume the long-buried truth behind the witch’s curse and the root of Shadyside’s mutual animosity with its sister city Sunnyvale. Sarah, in stark contrast to the malevolent figure the series has made her out to be so far, was not unlike Deena once: a kind-hearted, mild-mannered teenager whose rebellious temperament and repressed sexual identity put her at odds with the prevailing social sentiments of her time. Sarah harbors a love for her childhood friend Hannah Miller (Olivia Scott Welch), parallel to Deena’s relationship with her ex-girlfriend Sam, and when accusations of carnal sin and witchcraft begin to brew in Union following a string of inexplicable and horrifying omens, the closeness between the two naturally makes them targets for suspicion and resentment.
A Quiet Place Part II
Where to watch: Available to stream on Paramount Plus
A Quiet Place Part II takes place shortly after the events of its 2018 predecessor, with Evelyn Abbott and her family abandoning their now-compromised farmhouse to venture out in search of survivors in a world overrun with ravenous alien creatures with hypersensitive hearing. However, the farther out they trek, the more apparent it becomes that there are far greater horrors along the trail apart from their would-be extraterrestrial predators. From our review:
Mostly, the sequel takes the highs of the first movie a little higher, while its lows are about the same. A Quiet Place Part II continues to get a lot of mileage out of toying with horror’s deep relationship with sound, using wonderfully mixed audio to reorient the audience’s sense of peril toward everything aural, and using that threat to ratchet up the tension. Through sound, staging, and performance, scares are wrung out of silence, and the smallest bump can shock viewers with the terror of a gunshot. Furthermore, while thrills are the main draw, the movie’s cast does tremendous work with dramatic scenes communicated in ASL. The care taken in these more intimate scenes does a lot to smooth over the ways disability is factored into the genre conceit. Part II, like the film before it, runs the risk of being overbearing in building to a finale where a hearing aid saves the world, but it at least does the work of rooting that moment in Regan’s arc of independence.
Where to watch: Available to stream on Netflix
Karen Gillan (Doctor Who, Guardians of the Galaxy) stars Sam, a professional assassin who adopts the family trade when her mother Scarlett (Lena Headley), a legendary hit-woman abandons her under mysterious circumstances. When Sam’s latest mission goes awry, she chooses to protect young girl (Chloe Coleman) whose life is threatened by an ensuing gang war. With no other choice but to go rogue, Sam must enlist the help of her estranged mother and her lethal associates (Michelle Yeoh, Angela Bassett, and Carla Gugino) in order to survive. From our review:
Gunpowder Milkshake, the latest John Wick knockoff, can be described like this: What if that female-superheroes-assemble moment from Avengers: Endgame was expanded into a full two-hour movie, starring one of the actors from that specific scene, and incorporating plenty of bisexual lighting and a cute kid for good measure? The simplicity (and arguably superficiality) of this kind of girl-power-rah-rah energy is the fuel of Netflix’s unnuanced, ungraceful, often uninteresting Gunpowder Milkshake. The film’s intermittent delights are momentarily satisfying, but then numbness sets in, like the brain freeze that blooms after you slurp on the film’s titular ice-cream treat.
Die in a Gunfight
The White Lotus’ Alexandra Daddario and Diego Boneta star in director Collin Schiffli’s garish gangster action romance drama Die in a Gunfight as Mary and Ben, two star-crossed scions of rival crime families pitted in a centuries-long feud. The discovery of their romance triggers a domino effect that threatens to engulf everyone around them in a violent open war for love and supremacy. With premise on a whole taking obvious cues from Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, Die in a Gunfight looks like a blast.
Out of Death
Out of Death stars Bruce Willis as Jack Harris, a retired cop who treks out to his family’s cabin in the remote wilderness in search of peace and solitude. Things take a turn for the worse however when he crosses paths with Shannon (Jaime King), a hiker on the run from a corrupt police officer after witnesses an illicit drug deal gone horribly wrong. Fearing for their lives, Jack must resort to every ounce of his aptitude for violence and cunning to save Shannon and bring her would-be murderers to justice.