WAWWA_3DWe Are What We Are (eOne, Blu-ray, DVD, Digital), Jim Mickle’s remake of the Spanish film of the same name, is a horror film by definition—an isolated family in rural America cloisters its teenage daughters in a religion/ritual that reaches back to their starving forefathers who turned to cannibalism to survive a harsh frontier—but a family drama at heart.

Bill Sage is the ominously protective father who serves as a severe keeper of tradition with glowering tough-love strictness while the two girls just want to fit in with the world outside. We’re not talking hanging at the mall and getting cute new outfits, mind you, just participating in the social world of their school peers, but when mom suddenly dies (the tremors that presaged her collapse are rippling through dad as well) the pressure is on the eldest daughter (Ambyr Childers) to carry on the ritual, which involves blood, butchery, and someone kept captive in the workshop basement. Given that build-up, the film is intimate and poignant, a human story of growing up and yearning to be like everybody else in cloistered culture that demands strict obedience and violent defense.

The Blu-ray and DVD features cast and crew commentary, interviews with director Jim Mickle and actors Bill Sage and Julia Garner, and the featurette “An Acquired Taste: The Making of We Are What We Are.”

Enter a giveaway for a free Blu-ray edition of the film here.

keyoflifeKey of Life (Film Movement, DVD) is a lighthearted black comedy from Japan about a struggling, suicidal actor and an amnesiac hitman who swap identities after the latter whacks his head in a bathhouse accident and the former steals his wallet for a fresh start. Rounding out the cast is a highly-organized female magazine editor who plans out an entire courtship and marriage before even meeting her prospective boyfriend. She finds her well-ordered plans thoroughly upset when she helps the amnesiac try to piece his life together from the detritus of his doppelganger. Director/writer Uchida Kenji approaches with a deadpan whimsy and an optimism trumps all the potential disaster. Personality triumphs over circumstance, even when circumstances take some unexpected (and thoroughly entertaining) turns, like an amateur suddenly obligated to knock off a gangster. The disc includes the bonus short film Finale from Hungary.

BirthLIvingBirth of the Living Dead (First Run, DVD) is less about the making of George Romero’s Night of the Living Dead than a study in its origins and its influence. Apart from Romero himself, director Rob Kuhns doesn’t talk with anyone involved in the original production, instead turning to contemporary filmmakers (notably Gale Anne Hurd and Larry Fessenden, who is executive producer of this film), film critics and historians to discuss how and why the film resonated so with audiences and with the culture. There’s nothing here that fans of the film don’t already know from the wealth of interviews and featurettes produced for special edition disc releases but it’s an intelligent film in its own right and a solid introduction to the most influential horror film of its era.

ActofKillingThe Act of Killing (Drafthouse, Blu-ray, DVD, On Demand), an unusual documentary that explores the government-sanctioned murder of over 500,000 people in Indonesia in 1965 and 1966, was on Cinephiled’s “Top 11 Films of 2013” list so I defer to my colleague Frank Paiva, who penned the paragraph in our end of the year feature: “The Act of Killing shows how art can hurt and heal. It shines light on an incident that is still passed over by most Indonesian textbooks. It is the reason I love documentaries.”

Also new this week: Thanks For Sharing (Lionsgate, Blu-ray, DVD, Digital HD, VOD), a comedy about sex addiction with Gwyneth Paltrow and Mark Ruffalo (not that you’d know that from the cover of the disc), Runner Runner (Fox, Blu-ray, DVD), a thriller set in the world of online gambling and offshore financial enterprises with Ben Affleck and Justin Timberlake, Closed Circuit (Universal, Blu-ray, DVD, On Demand) with Eric Bana and Rebecca Hall, and Pedro Almodovar’s I’m So Excited (Sony, Blu-ray+DVD Combo, Digital, On Demand), a comedy set on a troubled airliner trying to find a place to set down.

VOD / On Demand exclusives:Jamesy

Available in advance of theatrical release is Jamesy Boy (Phase 4, Digital, VOD), reviewed here on Cinephiled by Jeff Michael Vice: “In his feature-filmmaking debut, co-screenwriter / director Trevor White can’t resist using some genre clichés …. But he’s smart enough to get out of the way of his cast, which does a lot more with this material than it probably deserves.”

You can purchase Machete Kills (Universal, Digital HD) two weeks before disc, the acclaimed Fruitvale Station (Anchor Bay, Digital HD) one week before disc, and Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa (Paramount, Digital HD) three full weeks before disc (and it’s unrated to boot).

Available on Cable On Demand before theaters is Summer in February, a romantic drama with Dominic Cooper and Emily Browning, and on Friday, January 10, Cold Comes the Night with Alice Eve and Bryan Cranston and Free Ride with Anna Paquin and Drea De Matteo arrive same days as select theaters.

More releases:BadgesFury

Tiger Eyes (Freestyle, DVD)
Badges of Fury (Well Go, Blu-ray, DVD, Digital)
Mike Tyson: Undisputed Truth (HBO, DVD)
Murph: The Protector (Anchor Bay, Blu-ray, DVD, Digital)
The Virginian (Cinedigm, Blu-ray, DVD, Digital)
Dream World (Sneak Attack, Blu-ray)
12 Disasters (Anchor Bay, DVD)
Linsanity (Arc, DVD)
Pit Stop (Wolfe, Digital)
The Outsider (RLJ, VOD)

Calendar of upcoming releases on Blu-ray, DVD, Digital, and VOD