Instant Picks of the Week 7/14/17

Gone are the days of scrolling mindlessly through your queue! No longer will you have to sift through the vastness of what’s coming to the instant viewing wastelands this month! Whether you’re looking for a stellar film or an exciting new show to binge, Instant Picks of the Week brings you the hottest releases in film and television on instant viewing platforms that we know you’ll love, or at the very least not despise.

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You and I have both been letting this sit on the top of our Amazon bars for several weeks now, but I promise you, it’s actually worth a shot! Feel free to insert your requisite complaints about the toothless ubiquity of the zombie subgenre of horror here; while THE GIRL WITH ALL THE GIFTS certainly makes use of familiar imagery, it is much, much more narratively sound than your average encounter with the walking dead. In the United Kingdom of the near future, a fungal virus has overtaken humanity, turning those it infects into flesh-hungry mutants. Humanity’s only hope lies with a group of infected children who have been able to retain all the normal physical and intellectual trappings of an uninfected human; a group of scientists holed up in a military bunker hope to find a cure through researching and operating on them. Of course, when things go awry and the base is infiltrated, a small group of survivors must set out with the precocious infected child Melanie to save the day. It doesn’t reinvent the wheel and borrows heavily from the oft-referenced video game THE LAST OF US, but I was certainly not expecting to find as much internal character drama and unsettling implications as THE GIRL WITH ALL THE GIFTS possesses. There is an existential devastation to be found in Melanie, who fears and hates herself as much as she fears and hates her military oppressors, and as everyone’s feelings towards each other get muddled as they’re forced to help one another to survive, the stage is set for surprisingly evocative scenes of emotional reckoning. That’s not mentioning the first act, which is one of the strongest I’ve seen in a film of this type, as we’re doled out information in slow, steady doses, recoiling in horror as the army verbally and physically abuses what initially appear to be your average eight-to-12-year-olds. Topped off with creepy-crawly sound effects (these zombies “chitter,” which is exactly unpleasant as it sounds) and a handful of scenes of stylized, brutal action, THE GIRL WITH ALL THE GIFTS manages to overcome its second act lull and walk away mostly impressive. [Thomas Seraydarian]

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NERVE (Amazon Video, Hulu)

NERVE has already had its praises sung on this site three times already now, but here’s another accolade: one of 2016’s most entrancing adventure flicks is now on demand and extremely streamable. The millennial pop dreamchild of director duo Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman, NERVE follows teens Emma Roberts and Dave Franco as they complete a series of escalating dares over the course of one crazy night in New York City. Part coming-of-age, part techno-thriller, NERVE embodies the gauntlet of emotions that all young adults must travail as they finally leave the comfort of their nest. NERVE is often charming and occasionally intense, a neon-soaked romp that pairs comfortably alongside 10 CLOVERFIELD LANE. If you haven’t yet had a chance to check out this absolute treat, there’s no better time than now. [Ed Dutcher]

The good people of Crossfader Magazine.

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