Three hits and one near miss made for a better than average range of choices for renters this week.
“The Purge” — A family takes in a man on the run on the worst night of the year, in this chiller. In the not too distant future, we are dealing with overcrowded prisons by having one night a year when all crime is legal. It is the worst night to have a traffic accident, too, as emergency services and the police department take the night off. This one moves quickly and has plenty of jolts. Ethan Hawke stars.
“American Horror Story: Asylum” — The series continues with some of the cast from season one returning in different roles. This time the setting is an eerie mental hospital, where a reporter enters undercover for the story of a lifetime. She gets her wish with a sadistic nun running the show, while a mad scientist fritters away on a secret project in the basement. All that and there may be aliens in the mix, too. Jessica Lange returns alongside Zachary Quinto.
“The Hangover III” — The wolfpack returns for this second sequel. This time, the formula changes and our three friends must save a fourth who is kidnapped by some thugs. A little less comedy keeps the tone off-balance, but you still get wicked laughs when the bad taste bar is raised higher than ever. Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms and Zach Galifinakis return.
“After Earth” — M. Night Shyamalan is back with this over-produced science fiction effort. Will Smith and his son, Jaden, star as father-and-son astronauts who crash on earth 1,000 years after it was abandoned. Dull and badly acted. Avoid this and “Oblivion” and maybe they will start adapting great science fiction novels again.