Cable On Demand
Cable offers VOD programming (same-day-as-disc releases, older titles and pre-theatrical exclusives) for rent, usually for 24- or 48-hour periods at prices from about $2.99 for older titles to $9.99 for new or exclusive releases. Since cable offers a direct connection from your cable provider, its VOD offerings are usually less prone to outside interference and can be streamed with surround sound and 3D when available.
Steven Soderbergh's medical-catastrophe thriller Contagion will leave you squirming in your chair after every cough and reaching for the Purell. The movie follows a huge ensemble cast (including Gwyneth Paltrow, Kate Winslet, Matt Damon, Laurence Fishburne, Jude Law and Marion Cotillard) as a viral pandemic spreads around the world and society begins to deteriorate while the medical community races to find a cure.
If you're not creeped out enough by Paltrow unwittingly starting a biblical plague in Contagion, the Guillermo del Toro-produced Don't Be Afraid of the Dark should put you on edge. This remake of the 1973 made-for-TV thriller stars Katie Holmes and Guy Pearce as a couple that renovates a Gothic mansion only to find out it is populated by malevolent goblin-like tooth fairies that want to claim Pearce's young daughter as their own.
Did you know that raising two kids while you are a busy working gal is a juggling act? That is the dated premise explored in the limp romantic comedy I Don't Know How She Does It starring Sarah Jessica Parker, Greg Kinnear and Pierce Brosnan. If you think about it, two kids and a hectic work schedule are the inevitable end result for Parker's character after years of sex and the city, so we don't know why she's running around in this flick all surprised and frazzled.
In The Guard, an unorthodox Irish policeman (Brendan Gleeson) who is more than a bit confrontational is teamed up with an uptight FBI agent (Don Cheadle) to investigate an international drug-smuggling ring.
If you go into Shark Night hoping to find young people with tight bods getting eaten by sharks while they vacation in a lake, then you might be satisfied by the latest Jaws rip-off. What you won't get in this PG-13 fish fest by the director of Snakes on a Plane is any gratuitous nudity or outrageous gore à la Piranha 3D, which had way more bite.
A friendlier ocean-themed film for children is the animated adventure A Turtle's Tale: Sammy's Adventures about a sea turtle that spends years searching the oceans for his long-lost love. The movie featuring the voices of Melanie Griffith and Kathy Griffin is also available to stream in 3D.
These four services stream movies to your TV via computer, Blu-ray player, game console or other compatible connected device. Like cable VOD, they offer new titles for rent from about $3.99 to $6.99, but, unlike cable, they also offer the option of downloading the movie to own from about $14.99 to $19.99. Usually movies presented in HD cost a bit more than streaming a SD version.
Of all the movies listed above that are available on cable On Demand, iTunes has them all available for rent, download or both. All four services also have Contagion and Don't Be Afraid of the Dark, Vudu has Shark Night, and both Vudu and Blockbuster have The Guard. Vudu offers 10-minute free previews of Contagion and Shark Night in case you want to peek before you rent or buy.
In Puncture, Chris Evans plays a hotshot drug-addicted lawyer that goes after the medical establishment over the use of a special needle that could save millions of lives. This drama based on a true story is available on all four services.
The House of the Devil director Ti West's latest scare show The Innkeepers doesn't even open in theaters until February, but you can rent the standard-definition version at the premium price of $9.99 right now on both Vudu and Amazon. The horror film stars Sara Paxton and Pat Healy as the last remaining employees of one of New England's most haunted hotels who are determined to discover proof before the building is shuttered for good.
Netflix's all-you-can-stream buffet costs $7.99 per month and gives instant access to thousands of movies and television shows via a computer, Blu-ray player, game console or other compatible device. Don't depend on Netflix streaming for same-day-as-disc releases, however. Instead, Netflix offers catalog titles, vintage movies, indie flicks and TV episodes with unlimited access for one monthly price.
In the outrageous hillbilly horror-comedy Tucker & Dale vs. Evil, two backwoods boys try to relax at a vacation cabin only to be accused of being psycho killers.
Ray Stevenson and Vincent D'Onofrio star in Kill the Irishman, a 2011 true-crime tale about the rise and fall of Cleveland mobster Danny Greene in the 1970s.
The dream of the '90s—artisanal light bulbs, feminist bookstores, indie rock and more—is alive in Portlandia, the hilarious TV show created by and starring Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein that sends up the artistic and all-too-organic denizens of Portland, Oregon. The first season is now available for streaming on Netflix. Another TV show making its Watch Instantly debut is the first season of the American remake of Being Human, which follows the adventures of three supernatural roommates—a ghost, a vampire and a werewolf. If that sounds too otherworldly for you, check out new episodes from three seasons of United States of Tara, which stars Toni Collette as a woman with multiple personalities.