Michael Beach plays Ty Adams, a psychiatrist whose ego and belief in his methods is hardlyshaken by the deaths, after unsuccessful treatment, of his wife and daughter. He arrives at anmental hospital (whose name you should watch for as it blinks past) headed up by a skepticalRonny Cox. Beach will be filmed 24/7 for the purposes of a documentary as he treats a groupof patients over a few weeks. A particular challenge arrives in the person of Eriq La Salle,who claims to be Satan hims…lf. Is he? He is certainly very good at making Beach’s life comeapart at the seams.
The film is based on Jeremy Leven’s novel Satan: His Psychotherapy and Cure by theUnfortunate Dr. Kassler, JSPS. Co-written by Leven, the film is a recognizable adaptation,but only just. The two most significant departures are the ending and the tone. I won’t say muchabout the ending, except that it will throw readers of the book an interesting curve. (Those whohaven’t read the novel might be less surprised.) Even more interesting is the transformation ofa comic novel into a straight horror film. Humour and horror have always been closelyconnected, but very rarely does one see the journey in this direction.
The sound is good, though the mix has more strength in 2.0 than in 5.1 (you’ll need to kickthe volume up a notch with the latter). The left-right separation is very good, and theenvironmental effects are excellent. The placement of the sound effects is very spooky, and eventhe most mundane noises are given careful treatment when it comes to which speaker they shouldbe emerging from. There is one odd moment where the sound cuts out for a brief second, butotherwise the audio is very strong.
Both fullscreen and 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen aspects are on offer here. The layertransition is very clumsy, and shows up 3 minutes into the film (odd). The blacks are good, andthe daytime exteriors look great, with fine colours and contrasts, and a sharp image free of edgeenhancement. The gloomy interiors don’t come off quite as well: they are a lot softer, and agrainy film hovers over the proceedings.
Eriq La Salle’s commentary should only be listened to after viewing the film, as he takes itfor granted (logically) that you know how all this turns out. He spends a lot of time (perhaps toomuch) talking about the double meanings of just about everything on the screen, but he delvesinto technical and thematic aspects too. There is also a the theatrical trailer. The menu isbasic.
A pleasant surprise, and an interesting take on the novel. Nothing radical is attempted here,and you may feel like you’ve been down this road before. The execution is solid and intelligent,all the same.
Special Features List
- Director’s Commentary