Check out this week’s DVD picks from off-grid drama Leave No Trace to horror-comedy Secret Santa

There's also solid retro support from Children Of Men, Cliffhanger, Il Postino (The Postman), the Twilight collection and Tom's Secret Garden. Read on…

Leave No Trace

Debra Granik (Winter’s Bone) has a fondness for people on society’s fringes, so she’s a natural fit to direct the story of Will (Ben Foster), a US armed forces veteran who lives in an Oregon national park with his daughter Tom.

Off the grid but living comfortably, their lives are upturned when they are discovered by the authorities and thrust back into civilisation.

From there Granik plants the seeds of a central conflict, and lets it grow quietly and naturally.

Will has seen what society has to offer him, and either wants none of it or simply can’t bear to take it, but Tom is intrigued by the prospect of friends and company.

Though the film meanders in its middle section, the final scene gut-wrenchingly ties it all together.

Newcomer Thomasin Harcourt Mackenzie shines as Tom, getting the lion’s share of the screen time, and Granik shoots the lush coniferous forests of America’s coastline beautifully.
Jasper Hart

Secret Santa

If you thought your family Christmases were a painful experience, wait until you get a load of this lot…

A dysfunctional wealthy family get together for the holidays and it's not long before some unpleasant truths get aired, triggering total carnage.

The ensuing bloodbath is not for the faint-hearted – it's vile, light on plot, gross, gory and silly. And the low-budget seams occasionally show.

This is Modern Family meets From Dusk Till Dawn, and for that reason it will really split viewers in two – if puerile violence offends you then steer clear.

But if you want to see horrible people tearing each other to pieces in a brutal but darkly comic fashion, then stick it on after the Queen's Speech on Christmas Day.

Maybe hide the carving knife first though…

Jayme Bryla


Psychological thriller Nancy has a drab and sedated exterior – but don’t be fooled, Christina Choe’s directorial debut is both heartwarming and heartbreaking in equal measure.

After the death of her mother, compulsive liar Nancy (Andrea Riseborough) becomes convinced she was kidnapped as a child – believing that she is actually the long-lost daughter of Leo (Steve Buscemi) and Ellen (J. Smith Cameron), who disappeared 30 years ago.

Riseborough takes centre stage as an awkward, vacant and immensely fragile thirtysomething – a lonely woman who is clearly troubled by her upbringing and always searching for something more.

Played in a near permanent state of "rabbit in the headlights", Nancy isn’t an endearing character, but increasingly becomes someone you can deeply sympathise with as she tries to figure out the truth.

In a story where, actually, very little happens, there are constant questions about what is really going on – you, too, get caught up in the tangled web of fact and fiction in Nancy’s head.

After all that build-up, the film ends on a disappointingly muted note, but one that admittedly captures the tone of the movie perfectly well. But, if you want something to wholeheartedly invest your next hour and a half into, this is for you.

Alex Smith

Twilight: The Complete Collection

This new 10th Anniversary edition will be manna from the crypt for all fans of the ghoulish saga.

Not only does the boxset contain all five of the teen love triangle fantasy flicks, it is also stuffed with every extra you could imagine.

The six-disc Blu-ray compilation (11 for DVD) includes a whole day's worth of extra material, including cast interviews and a special set revisit ten years after the release of the original.

The franchise is arguably responsible for hauling Kristin Stewart (angsty teen Bella) and Robert Pattinson, who plays broody vampire Edward, into the mainstream.

Taylor Lautner may have fared least well since the end of the saga, struggling to replicate his success as werewolf Jacob, but together the trio took a well-worn genre to new heights.

Ray Dyer


(15) Out Nov 12

It's not as iconic as Rocky, not as bloodthirsty as Rambo, nor as impressively cast as The Expendables but this 1993 action classic is peak Stallone in more than one way.

He plays mountain rescuer Gabe, who quits his job racked by guilt over the death of a civilian he was trying to save.

But when a bunch of ruthless criminals crashland on his mountain, he's forced to help them search for their lost loot to save the life of his best friend Hal (Michael Rooker of The Walking Dead and Guardians Of The Galaxy).

John Lithgow exudes slithery menace as chief baddie Qualen, and you may also spot among his henchmen Craig Fairbrass, who would go on to have plenty more cliffhangers in EastEnders.

Although Cliffhanger is set in the Rocky Mountains, it was filmed in the Italian Alps, which are a truly spectacular backdrop for this game of cat and mouse.

Even if you've seen it before and know exactly what's coming, the high-altitude set pieces remain as heart-poundingly effective as ever in this new 4k Ultra HD and Blu-ray version.

The extras are pure 90s cheese but do offer some interesting nuggets on the challenges of mountain filming.

As for the film itself, though, it's top of the range.

Jayme Bryla

Children Of Men

(15) Out now

Loosely based on PD James’ dystopian novel of the same name, Children Of Men (now rereleased on Special Edition Blu-ray) is set in a tumultuous world where the human race has been infertile for the last 18 years.

After reluctantly agreeing to help illegal immigrant Kee (Clare-Hope Ashitey), who has miraculously become pregnant, Theo (Clive Owen) is forced to become the one person who can stop the population from dying out.

Support from Julianne Moore, Michael Caine and Pam Ferris adds to an almost comedic mismatch of characters. Each of them brings a distinct story, showing off the best, and worst, characteristics of the human race.

Eerily reminiscent of Danny Boyle’s 28 Days Later, unexpected twists and turns come out of nowhere, ripping right through the character’s story, making violent deaths seem almost normal by the end.

You’re made to feel the impact of these deaths more by director Alfonso Cuarón’s immersive one-camera set-up used throughout – you feel like you’re a part of the story.

Contemporary references are ever-present – from faith and religion to immigration and police states, you can see glimpses of this imagined world in our future timeline.

Science-fiction films don’t tend to age well, but the cultural hints that Cuarón has embedded within Children Of Men are becoming increasingly more relevant today than they were back in 2006.

Alex Smith

Tom’s Midnight Garden

This re-release of the Beeb’s 1980s adaptation is great family viewing for those cold winter days when you are stuck at home.

Based on the classic Philippa Pearce children’s novel, it centres on Tom (Jeremy Rampling), who is sent to live with his aunt and uncle when his brother catches measles.

With no garden to play in, he is bored. His only interest is an old grandfather clock in the hallway.

One night, when it mysteriously strikes 13, he goes down to investigate and is transported back in time to a beautiful Victorian garden.

No one can see him except a young girl named Hatty (Caroline Waldron). Their nightly excursions see them explore the garden and its mysteries but, as Hatty ages, Tom doesn’t – until, one day, it breaks them apart.

Yes, the cinematography in this six-part series may have aged, but it will still keep young kids entertained for a few hours.

Nimmi Maghera-Rakhra

Il Postino – The Postman

This romantic drama portrays the innocence of love in its true form, spoken in the words of poetry.

It's a fictitious tale about real-life Chilean poet-diplomat Pablo Neruda, who is exiled to a small Italian island due to political reasons.

From there, he befriends Mario, a dissatisfied fisherman who is hired to deliver his mail.

Enchanted by the Nobel Prize-winning poet, Mario becomes inspired – and uses this to court the affections of his true love, Beatrice.

Its Oscar-winning score pulls the heartstrings, beautifully interwoven with the heartfelt poetry that forms the identity of the film. Expect to be whisked on an Italian getaway.

Cynics would argue it's overly fanciful, but it’s the youthful naivety of Mario that makes Il Postino.

Don’t underestimate this idyllic romance, brimmed with refreshing nostalgia – five Oscar nominations speak for themselves.

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