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Mixed bag of hit-and-miss movies on Blu-ray, DVD this week
Ona Grauer, left, and Bonnie Somerville in "Mom's Day Away," a Hallmark Channel movie now on DVD. - photo by Chris Hicks
Theres not much to shout about among new movies on Blu-ray and DVD this week. These are very much a mixed bag of hit-and-miss titles.

Moms Day Away (Cinedigm/DVD/Digital, 2014, not rated, trailers). This Hallmark Channel movie is clean and old-fashioned, and unfortunately rather bland in a 70s family sitcom kind of way. The exception is an exuberant performance by Bonnie Somerville as a homemaker whose family forgets Mothers Day. Somerville lifts the material as she takes that Sunday off, leaving Dad (James Tupper) and the kids to cope without her while she dines out, visits a spa, sings karaoke, etc., with her wild-child BFF (Ona Grauer). Whenever I see movies like this I find myself wishing a comedy writer had been called in to give the script a tune-up.

Whitney (Lifetime/Lionsgate/DVD/Digital, 2015, not rated, trailers). Lifetime cable biographical film about Whitney Houston (Yaya DaCosta), but its not about her youth in a churchgoing show-biz family and rise to stardom. Instead the focus is on her tumultuous relationship with Bobby Brown (Arlen Escarpeta) and her drug use. It's a directing debut for Angela Basset, who seems to be channeling her own Tina Turner film, Whats Love Got to Do With It. (Houstons songs are dubbed by Deborah Cox.)

Bark Ranger (Lionsgate/DVD, 2015, PG, trailers). The park where a ranger couple works is threatened with closure, so their young son with help from his talking dog (voiced by Jon Lovitz) and a girl on vacation tries to find a hidden treasure to save the day. Meanwhile, two thugs plot to steal the treasure after the kids find it. Farcical childrens film with a Home Alone vibe and too many flatulence gags.

The Babadook (IFC/Scream/Blu-ray/DVD, 2015, not rated, deleted scenes, featurettes, short film: Monster, trailers; pop-up book packaging). Effective Australian horror film begins as the story of an aggressive out-of-control schoolboy who is terrified of monsters, especially after the strange appearance of a pop-up book with a threatening story. But then the demon unleashed by the book goes after his widowed mother (Essie Davis in an excellent, if unsettling, performance). Not rated but in R territory. Actress Jennifer Kents feature writing-directing debut (an expansion of her black-and-white short Monster, which is included here).

A Spell to Ward Off the Darkness (KimStim/DVD, 2015, not rated, featurette, short film: Call No Man Happy Until He Is Dead). Experimental semi-documentary with Scandinavian musician Robert A.A. Lowe (aka Lichens) searching for transcendence on the island of Vormsi in Estonia, a wilderness area in Finland and while performing with a black metal band in Norway.

Enter the Dangerous Mind (Well Go/Blu-ray/Blu-ray/DVD, 2015, not rated). An aimless musician (Jake Hoffman) creates dubstep mixes and builds an online following. But when he strikes up a relationship with a social worker and it proves to be short-lived, he begins a destructive descent into madness. Not rated but in R territory.

Beside Still Waters (Cinedigm/DVD, 2015, not rated, deleted scenes/alternate ending, audio commentary, featurette). This 21st century riff on The Big Chill (or Return of the Secaucus Seven) has its own ideas about friendships, both lasting and fleeting, as childhood pals gather at a lake house to re-examine relationships and reignite old feelings.

Maps to the Stars (Universal/Blu-ray/DVD/Digital, 2015; R for violence, sex, drugs, nudity, language; trailers). David Cronenberg directed a first-rate cast in this third-rate insider Hollywood melodrama that wallows in debauchery. Stars include Julianne Moore, Mia Wasikowska, John Cusack, Robert Pattinson, Olivia Williams, with Carrie Fisher in a cameo as herself.

The Man With the Iron Fists 2 (Universal/Blu-ray/DVD/Digital, 2015, R for violence, deleted scenes, audio commentary, featurette, trailers). Straight-to-video sequel with co-writer RZA (co-founder of the hip-hop group Wu-Tang clan) reprising his role as The Blacksmith (sans Lucy Liu and Russell Crowe). This time a wounded stranger in the 19th century mining town is nursed to health before helping his benefactors take down bad guys with the usual over-the-top martial arts bloodbath.

I Really Hate My Ex (Lionsgate/DVD/Digital, 2015; R for sex, language, drugs; featurette, trailers). Dark comedy about three women whose exes treated them poorly, so to get answers they kidnap the former boyfriends and sort of put them on trial while the world watches over the Internet.

Vengeance of an Assassin (Well Go/Blu-ray/DVD/Digital, 2015, not rated, in Thai with English subtitles). Tony Jaas mentor Panna Rittikrai (who died earlier this year) directed this bone-crunching thriller about a hitman with an agenda. Hes trying to discover who killed his parents, but along the way hes betrayed by a client and goes on the run until he can get revenge.

From the Dark (DarkSky/Blu-ray/DVD/Digital, 2015, not rated, audio commentary, featurette, trailer). Car trouble strikes a couple traveling through rural Ireland, so they set out on foot to find help, eventually coming upon a lonely old house. They investigate. Bad idea. Soon they are terrorized by a creature that seems to fear the light.