A survivor of Strickland’s disease (the illness that led to the creation of the Judas breed ofgiant cockroaches in the first place), Karl Geary is extremely allergic, cannot be far from hisoxygen bottle, and is essentially of prisoner of his bedroom. From here he watches theneighbourhood through a telephoto lens, obsessively photographing. His mother (AmandaPlummer) is an oblivious flake, and his younger sister is well on her way to becoming a junkie.Gradually, Geary realiz…s he has seen something bad happen down in the street at night. No onebut his sister (Alexis Dziena) and Rebecca Mader, the young woman who lives across the way,believes him. What even he doesn’t realize is that he is seeing the his neighbours being taken oneby one by the Judas bugs. The Rear Window concept is inspired, simultaneously makingthe film much more interesting than your usual DTV sequel, and making a virtue out of thenecessity of its low budget. J.T. Petty’s stylish direction builds up a mood of dread that at timesbeats the original film at its own game. The big blow-out at the end arguably breaks up what hadbeen a superbly atmospheric mood piece until that point, but the attack scenes are still nicelyhandled, the deaths surprisingly grim. This little film blew all my expectations out of the water,and can hold its head high when compared with the original.
With a film this moody, sound is going to play a very important role, and the results here areoutstanding. If there were any justice in the world, Henning Lohner’s gorgeous score would beup for an Oscar, and is beautifully captured by the 5.1 mix. The sound effects deserve specialnotice here. The front/rear placement and left/right separation are excellent, but what reallystands out is the creation of the apartment’s environment. The muffled sounds of neighbouringapartments are forever present in the background. You are there in Geary’s room, and thegrimy, claustrophobic feeling created by the thin walls of his home is nailed. Mostimpressive.
The picture quality is fine, but not quite up the sound. The blacks are deep, and the contrastsare strong, even in the (plentiful) night scenes, so mood is preserved without murkiness. Thesharpness isn’t always as good as it should be, however, particularly in credit sequence (which isitself a mighty fine piece of work). Still, the aspect is anamorphic widescreen, and there is nograin to deal with, though there is some minor edge enhancement.
The behind-the-scenes featurette has a neat, seat-of-the-pants feel to it (hard to rememberthat this is, ultimately, a Disney production). Petty is amusingly self-deprecating, and there is angood quirkiness to the material, especially when it comes to describing the shooting conditions inRomania. The same tone comes across in the commentary. The emphasis here is on the technicalside, and there isn’t much by way of thematic concerns, but Petty is most engaging as heevaluates the movie, pointing out what worked for him and what didn’t. There are also auditiontapes for the lead actors. The menu is basic.
It’s wonderful surprises like this that keep people like me slogging through sequel aftersequel, viewing one dire offering after another. Every once in a while, something like this filmcomes along, and makes it all worthwhile.
Special Features List
- Director’s Commenary
- Making-of Featurette
- Cast Audition Tapes