The Addiction (18), 20th Century Fox

(available to buy now rrp pounds 12.99)

Abel Ferrara's work has always attracted comments such as "disturbing", "haunting", "unforgettable". And if you've ever dismissed such plaudits for the euphemistic rubbish they undoubtedly are, The Addiction provides all the damning evidence you need.

Fresh from flashing her radical credentials at a war crimes seminar, philosophy student Lili Taylor ends up as a rhesus positive night-cap for Annabella Sciorra. Before you can say "uncompromisingly visceral", Lili's snacking her way round her campus pals and spouting third-hand romantic philosophy by way of justification.

Which is, intermittently and inadvertently, very funny indeed. Ferrara clads his vampire shocker with bogus examinations of existential angst and the nature of addictive behaviour, but his real achievement is to make Christopher Walken a laughing stock. Sporting black, bobbed hair and declaiming about some bloke called "Neechy", the scariest man in film comes across like a Stars in their Eyes Brett Anderson. (Lili Taylor, meanwhile, appears to have modelled her tormented demon-of-the-night chic on Alanis Morrisette.)

Ms Taylor's chums infer her obviously deranged state from a newly acquired smoking habit and shameless neglect of homework. In fact, Taylor winds up as a stereotype of the only creature who might get a kick out this pretentious crap: a moody teenager. 0/5

Pusher (18), Metrodome

(available to buy now rrp pounds 14.99)

Although the grim apartment blocks and sleazy bars could belong to any diseased inner-city, the fact that Copenhagen provides the setting for Nicolas Winding's bleak thriller somehow makes it all the more disturbing. Mean Streets and Scarface were nourished by their New York and Miami settings but, despite its obvious debt to both these films, Pusher reflects Copenhagen to quite different ends, rooting its claustrophobic anonymity in the city's discreet obscurity.

Kim Bodnia plays the eponymous drug dealer, the film detailing seven days in his violent and seedy life. Essentially, Winding offers up nothing the cinema hasn't already told you about low-rent gangsters: the monosyllabic Bodnia jokes crudely with his sidekick about women, struggles to show much affection for his emotionally fragile junkie girlfriend and, predictably, takes a dim view of jokes about his mother.

Where Pusher does score is in the screenplay's unremitting hopelessness and gritty photography. Bodnia (who heads up a fine cast) begins the film a goner, in debt to a local mobster, and it's all downhill from there - his descent is as inexorable as the seven days which the narrative ticks off. The apt gloom through which the camera struggles to find its way only sharpens the film's already menacing edge. A compellingly nasty portrait of hell on earth. 3/5

Slacker (15), VCI

(available to buy now rrp pounds 12.99)

Looking on back on his seminal early 1990s portrait of drop-out culture, Richard Linklater might well smile to himself that his debut feature displayed the staying power eschewed by loafer zeitgeist he so memorably captured. Focusing on the fringe communities - the students, the espresso philosophers, the conspiracy theorists, the aspiring artists and anti-artists - of Austin, Texas, Slacker, on a budget of $230,000, seemed perfectly to epitomize the dawdling inertia of its subjects. There is no single protagonist, no plot either. Instead, the languid camerawork moves from street corner chat to cafe debate, gazing at characters and situations only tenuously, if at all, connected.

The fact that Linklater does away with conventional notions of narrative or character and entertains for over an hour and a half illustrates the care he has taken. In the amusing fragments of gossip, intrigue and action, Linklater is sensitive both to the becalmed creativity of a generation and the innate nosiness of us all. 4/5

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