On a dark and stormy night, a series of strange (coincidental?) events trap a group of peopleat an isolated hotel. They are all strangers, and yet more bizarre coincidences appear to link themto each other somehow. As if that wasn’t enough, someone is killing them off, one by one. Allvery mysterious and suspenseful, and the cast is excellent. Unfortunately, there’s a twist, and notonly does the twist take a thriller that was setting itself up as something daring and ne… into all-too-familiar territory, but the opening credits give away the surprise. Too bad. Identitycoulda been a contender.
Very impressive. The thunder and rain are present throughout the film, and the sense ofenvironment through the use of well-placed sound effects is impeccable. The other sound effectsare equally well deployed, with great attention paid to speaker selection. The music is great too,with a great bass tone sure to drive up your anxiety level. Through all this, the dialogue comesthrough with perfect clarity.
An appropriately moody transfer, drenched in dark colours, but never murky, which themovie could so easily have been. The blacks are profound, and the contrasts are very effective,even if the film’s palette is a very sombre one. Grain – another risk with a film this dark – is non-existent. The flesh tones are dead-on. And edge enhancement isn’t an issue. In other words, asuperb, trouble-free transfer. The format is both 2.40:1 anamorphic widescreen and fullscreen.The former is so gorgeous it would be a crime to spoil the film’s compositions.
The film can be watched in both the theatrical release and an extended version. DirectorJames Mangold provides a very technical, scene-specific commentary, and does so in anengaging, articulate manner. He also has optional commentary on the four deleted scenes. Thereare three storyboard comparisons (all featuring characters buying it). The “Starz… On the Set”featurette is pure promo. Finally, there is the theatrical trailer and filmographies of Mangold,writer Michael Cooney, and stars John Cusack, Ray Liotta and Amanda Peet. The menu has aspectacular main page, designed around the set of the hotel. This, the intro and the transitions areanimated and scored, while the next level of pages are scored.
The film is frustrating in that it has all the necessary elements to be much better than it is.The packaging is first-rate, however.
Special Features List
- Director’s Commentary
- Alternative Version
- Deleted Scenes with Optional Commentary
- Storyboard Comparisons
- Theatrical Trailer