Courtney Cox is a photography instructor struggling to put her life back together. A month earlier, on November 7, her boyfriend (James Le Gros) was gunned down during a convenience store robbery. Cox is unable to move on, and is suffering from crippling headaches. One day, a mysterious slide shows up in her carousel: it is a photograph of the exterior of the store during the actual robbery. Cox brings the picture to the attention of the police, hoping they might track down the photographer….They do. And then…
… the twists begin, and what begins as a moody, disturbing psychological thriller with possible supernatural overtones begins its unfortunate disintegration. Ironically, just as it forces the audience to question the reality of everything that has happened in the first act, it gives its own game away. The scenario that it ultimately posits is one we’ve seen far too many times, especially of late, and November really doesn’t have anything new to say on the subject. That said, Cox, following what seems to an common career strategy for the ex-Friends in taking a dramatic role in an indie movie, does a very credible job. The film puts a lot of weight on her performance, and she is up to the challenge. If only the script weren’t so familiar.
The audio is a real treat, featuring some truly disturbing 5.1 sound design. The opening, for instance starts off with sound coming from the rear speakers only, to pleasingly disorienting effect. The music also has features some nifty oscillation between the left and the right. There are plenty of other startling effects (a couple of very loud thumps in particular, which feel like a sudden assault from all speakers). The dialogue is always crisp and clear as well.
The use of colour is very pointed (sickly green tones for the entire first act, much warmer colours for the middle section, a return to the green at the end), and these colours are well served by the transfer. The contrasts are strong, and the image is always sharp and never murky. There is some noticeable grain during some of the darker sequences, however, and a bit of edge enhancement. Worse is the pixelation, which, during a red-lit darkroom scene, is pretty severe, rending the picture quite blocky on bigger screens.
There are two commentary tracks. Director/editor Greg Harrison tends to dominate the conversation on both, but there are still valuable contributions from writer Benjamin Brand (on the first track) and DP Nancy Schreiber (on the second). The discussions are sufficiently engaging that I found myself wishing I’d enjoyed the movie more. Composer and visual effects man (there’s a combo!) Lew Baldwin is interviewed by Harrison in a separate featurette. There are three scored photo galleries. One is behind-the-scenes stills, but the others are photographs featured in the film itself, taken by the characters. There is also the alternate opening credits sequence, and a clutch of trailers. The menu’s main screen is scored.
Nicely performed, moodily shot, edited to great effect, this could have been a contender, but settles for a too-familiar denouement.
Special Features List
- Audio Commentaries
- A Conversation with Lew Baldwin, Composer/Visual Effects
- Photo Galleries
- Alternate Opening