There are a few real gifts among this week’s new DVD releases.
“The Gift”: 3 stars. This is old-fashioned in the way it conjures up scares. It’s filled with creepy characters who are one emotional jolt from going over the edge, scares that come from psychological twists and more plot curves than in a major-league baseball game.
It doesn’t rely on the loud orchestration of a creepy soundtrack, bloody images or ghastly scenarios to move the audience. Its Hitchcockian approach creates tension and scares. And first-time director and writer Joel Edgerton establishes a normal setting to unleash his deeply complicated character study.
“Max”: 2 1/2 stars. Director Boaz Yakin — along with his co-writer, Sheldon Lettich — was already halfway to a solid family film by making a boy and his dog the central theme of “Max,” which tells the story of a family who takes in a military dog traumatized after a tragedy.
Yakin sniffs out elements that win over viewers. But he also has some moments that feel like a walk through the backyard barefoot where a big dog lives.
“Downton Abbey Seasons 1, 2, 3, 4 & 5”: 4 stars. This will get you ready for the sixth and final season coming soon. The series is marvelously acted bringing to life compelling stories of love, death and loss set against a calm English countryside.
ALSO NEW ON DVD
“Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries 3”: Essie Davis plays the stylish lady detective.
“My Fair Lady: 50th Anniversary Edition”: To mark the anniversary, a remastered version of the musical is being released.
“Army of Darkness”: The collector’s edition is being released just before the launch of the TV series “Ash vs. the Evil Dead.”
“Masterpiece: Home Fires”: Women in an English village face the onset of World War II.
“The Horror Network”: Terror tales from Brian Dorton, Douglas Conner and others.
“Barbie and Her Sisters: The Great Puppy Adventure”: Barbie and her friends face unexpected mysteries.
“Food Forward”: Production follows innovators and pioneers who are transforming the way we grow and eat our food.
“The American Dream Machine”: Irreverent weekly variety show that aired from 1971-72.
“Special Effects Collection”: Includes “Son of Kong,” “Mighty Joe Young,” “The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms” and “Them!”
“Nova: Nuclear Meltdown Disaster”: Reveals the minute-by-minute story of the Fukushima nuclear crisis.
“Spartacus: Restored Edition”: Remastered version to mark the film’s 55th anniversary.