April 9, 2022

THE UNKINDNESS OF RAVENS and the Dollar Tree Crapshoot

Starring Jamie Scott Gordon, Amanda Gililand, Daniel Casey, Dougie Clark.

Directed by Lawrie Brewster (89 min)

Essay by D.M. ANDERSONđź’€

I’m a lot more adventurous when shopping at Dollar Tree than at other stores. 

I just recently bought my first air fryer and fell in love with it. Part of the fun of owning an air fryer is seeing what cooks well and what doesn’t. For example, they turn corndogs into gourmet cuisine, giving the batter a crispiness you normally only find at a state fair. Man, I could eat a fuck-ton of air fryer corndogs, attacking each one with the ferocity of a pornstar.

Since I don’t have money falling out of my ass, Dollar Tree is a great place to grab stuff for my air fryer experiments. Thanks to them, I learned Hot Pockets don’t cook up well, nor do burritos or breakfast sandwiches. On the other hand, Dollar Tree eggrolls are pure perfection, especially the lobster flavored ones. That’s right kids, Dollar Tree has lobster! Though my wife continues to question the wisdom of purchasing seafood from a dollar store, trust me, these things are worth running the risk of explosive diarrhea.

Colorful novelty socks? You betcha! I’m normally pretty conservative when it comes to footwear. Nobody is likely to see the funny pictures on your feet on any given day, so shelling out fifteen bucks for a pair seems rather frivolous. But a buck? I’ve never actually eaten chicken & waffles (I wonder how they’d taste in an air fryer), but I now have a pair o’ Dollar Tree socks sporting them, as well as others featuring burgers, cows, barnyards, fish, footballs and bears. Now I can be part of the hip crowd and still have cash left for an anti-diarrheal to counter those lobster eggrolls (but not a Dollar Tree anti-diarrheal…even I have limits). Who really cares if the socks are only marginally thicker than pantyhose?

My local Dollar Tree also carries DVD movies from time to time, usually stuff I’ve never heard of (a lot of Kevin Sorbo movies, which still ain’t worth a buck). But I’m far more willing to take a chance on a movie sight-unseen if it’s cheap enough To use as a coaster if it ends up sucking...or if the disc doesn’t play. The electronics section of Dollar Tree is always a crapshoot. I once purchased lightbulbs there, one of which simply exploded when I screwed it into my lamp…damn near catching the drapes on fire.

Anyway, I recently found a horror film called The Unkindness of Ravens. I’m a sucker for killer critter movies, even the bad ones, and the title alone suggested this could be a real hoot. 

It’s at this point I must confess a bit of ignorance, unaware at-the-time that a group of ravens is actually called an “unkindness.” Even so, the word doesn’t exactly instill fear. Certainly something like Wrath of Ravens, Attack of Ravens or even Conspiracy of Ravens (another name for a group of them) would sound more ominous. With “unkindness,” all I could visualize was a flock of verbally abusive birds…

Actually, I’d be totally onboard watching a film about verbally abusive birds.

But alas, reading the plot synopsis, The Unkindness of Ravens sounded more like a psychological horror movie than a bloodthirsty bird bonanza, with the main character apparently suffering from PTSD. That’s when a dreadful thought popped into my mind: What if the title is only metaphorical and there are no actual birds?

Still, it would only cost me a buck to find out…

Unfortunately, I still don’t have an answer. Maybe someone reading this could let me know if The Unkindness of Ravens features any fearsome fowl - verbally abusive or otherwise - because the copy I purchased didn’t work. My player simply clicked and clicked until it finally gave up and said “Time to dust off your old copy of Birdemic, Dave” before spitting it back out.

That happens every now and then with Dollar Tree discs…they just sit & spin without providing my buck’s worth of cheap thrills. I never get too worked up about it, since it would probably cost more in gas to return the thing than simply repurpose it as a decorative coaster. In fact, there’s a grande Pike from Starbucks resting on my copy of The Unkindness of Ravens right now. 

I suspect Dollar Tree knows this, as does Echo Bridge, the company that releases a majority of the DVDs sold in the store. For all I know, Echo Bridge simply got a hell of a deal on blank discs nobody uses anymore, slapped on labels and packaged them in a DVD case with a cool cover. Well played, guys, well played.

On a positive note, however, I have good news for collectors. If you ever have the need to replace damaged DVD or Blu-ray cases, it’s often cheaper to be-bop down to Dollar Tree and grab some of their titles than ordering from Amazon. If the movies inside happen to work, great! If not, you still have decorative coasters for your movie cave! A win-win situation.

Still, it’s a shame about The Unkindness of Ravens. After doing a bit of further reading, it actually sounds like a pretty decent flick.

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