Combustible Celluloid
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With: George Wendt, Meredith Monroe, Matt Keeslar, Haley Guiel, John B. Scott, Kerry Sandomirsky, Nancy Whyte, Emily Tennant, Emily Hope, Aleita Northey
Written by: Brent Hanley
Directed by: John Landis
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Running Time: 58
Date: 03/18/2013

Family (2006)

3 Stars (out of 4)

Going Nuclear

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

To the bean counters, director John Landis is known as a director of comedies. He was the man who turned National Lampoon's Animal House (1978) into a phenomenon, and also put the winning touches on Kentucky Fried Movie (1977), The Blues Brothers (1980) and Coming to America (1988). But in certain circles, he's better known as a lover of horror films, and is far more appreciated for An American Werewolf in London (1981) and Innocent Blood (1992). Luckily, the latter camp invited Landis to participate in the cable TV series "Masters of Horror," and now we have a third chiller to rank alongside the previous two. The 60-minute Family is a delightfully twisted comedy about what goes on behind closed doors in the suburbs, so sneaky that it's almost a shame to talk about anything that happens after the first ten minutes. Harold (George Wendt) lives in a nice, clean house and hangs out with his wife and daughter, sort of. A young couple, Celia (Meredith Monroe) and David (Matt Keeslar), moves in next door, looking to start fresh after the death of their little daughter. When Celia and David accidentally crash into Harold's mailbox, they drop by to apologize and the neighbors become friendly with one another. But, it goes without saying, nothing is quite as it seems. For example, Harold has an ongoing project in his basement that he performs while listening to bizarre religious music. Landis directs everything with a gleeful nastiness, timing the story's crafty reveals with effortless grace. His little touches are everywhere, from the music to the banal surfaces to his trademark "See you next Wednesday." Brent Hanley (Frailty) wrote the screenplay.

DVD Details: As with other entries in the series, Anchor Bay and Starz have released this on DVD with lots of extras, mainly trailers, but also a commentary track with writer Hanley, a making-of featurette, a featurette on the musical score, storyboards, stills and an extensive Landis bio. Those with DVD-Rom drives can access a PDF of the screenplay.

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