I hate to see great ideas go to waste. These days, it’s rare that anyone ever has any new ideas in Hollywood. Everything has been done before, usually more than once. Sometimes concepts are adapted, and sometimes whole films are re-done… the most blatant slap in the face of creativity. When a film comes along that actually is original, I get excited. In fact, I’ll even settle for a new twist on an old story. I get so tired of the same old thing, that even an ounce of creativity goes a long way with me.
It i… with this spirit that I morn for this film. Sure, this type of thing has been tried before, but not exactly in this way. It is basically a new thought… poison a dinner party, so that they might be given the chance to purge themselves of their wrongdoings, and live new lives, free from their secrets and burdens of guilt. Always before, films in the horror and suspense genres have involved an antagonist that kills out of spite, evil, or some other wrong spirit. This one, however, is doing everything he can to give his friends a better life. That is a new and exciting twist.
I wish I could say the same thing about the final product. This laborious film stops and starts like a Ford Pinto with a flat tire. The first 20 odd minutes of the film race along so quickly that it is hard to keep up with who is who, and what the background of each of the characters is. Once things settle down, however, they really settle down. In fact, the majority of the second act of the picture consists of characters wondering around alone. During this section of the film, many questions are answered. Unfortunately, somebody forgot to inform the audience of the questions. Instead of major shocking revelations, the film leaves the viewer asking, “why do I care?”
Why, indeed? Why not either save your money, or watch something else.
The audio track on this disc is the best thing that it has going for it. Lion’s Gate has put together a pretty special treat for viewers’ ears with their mix of this film. The sound field is nice and wide, which really opens up the otherwise-enclosed environments. Low-end bass tones sound fantastic; they are full and rich, yet blend seamlessly with the rest of the track. The subwoofer gets to work through much of the film, providing the low rumbling of foreboding danger, which adds to the viewers’ uneasiness while progressing through the film.
Special mention should also be made with regards to the use of panning and fading throughout the picture. Not content to set the levels and let the film run, the sound engineer has made some very entertaining adjustments to the soundtrack. Audio occurring off-screen comes from where it should come from… a trait that shockingly doesn’t happen nearly as often as it should on DVD. This is a great track that does all that it should do and more.
Wow, this is one horrible transfer. I can unquestionably say that this is the worst transfer that I have seen for a film shot in the past 20 years. While the occasional scene is clear, that is certainly the exception to the rule. The picture starts out grainy, and just gets worse as the action progresses. Some white pops of color begin showing up early in the film, and more and more appear later in the film. On most discs, there are merely minor annoyances, but there are so many in this case that it becomes a major problem that will annoy even the most unseasoned viewer. The ultimate in bad picture comes in the scene with Lance Henricksen lying on the floor in front of the fireplace. The colors are off, the shot is choppy, and the negative is covered with scratches… so many that it almost looks like it is raining. Pathetic.
Sadly, blemishes are not the only problem this transfer faces. Colors are also off throughout the film. The whole piece has an overriding grayish hue to it that really dulls the picture. Furthermore, there are some lighting issues, especially with regards to the exterior scenes. It is quite hard to make out the action in these external nighttime shots. I understand the difficulties of lighting at night, but I also understand that if you can’t do it well, it probably shouldn’t be attempted at all.
The result of all of these problems is a film that has the feel of a ’70’s camp horror film. While that may be acceptable, even endearing, in an old horror film, it is annoying and unprofessional in this setting.
Included on this disc is a trailer for the film, as well as a couple trailers for other Lion’s Gate films. Unfortunately, that is all there is. No photo gallery, no production notes… nothing. Sometimes, a studio will try to save a stinker of a film by loading the disc up with extras. Other times, the studio sees the film as a lost cause, and puts it out on the market with as little effort as possible. It looks like the latter option is the one that was chosen in this case.
This is yet another case of a good idea that was not properly developed. Dropping viewers into the middle of the story without first developing the characters was probably not the best idea. Glossing over most of the second act was also not exactly inspired filmmaking. Aside from the well-mixed soundtrack, there’s not much positive to say about this title. This is a disc that is not recommended for anyone, even Lance Henricksen fans. For a similar film that was actually done well, check out Sigourney Weaver and Ben Kingsley in Death and the Maiden.
Special Features List