A fractious rock band known as the Choke, on the verge of breaking up (did all its members but know it) is supposed to play a gig at a local nightclub. But a killer has other plans, and (after a very long preamble) the members of the band find themselves trapped in the locked warehouse/nightclub, being picked off one by one. Suspicion falls first on one character, then another.
Creative young people trapped in a locked building with a killer. It’s been done well, but as Stagefri…ht (AKA Deliria AKA Bloody Bird), and not here. The characters aren’t very engaging, and the wannabe-Scream dialogue is too often repetitive, too seldom witty. The gore scenes are solid stuff, but aren’t enough to save the film. Viewers should avoid checking out the trailer before watching the film, as the identity of the killer is given away in the ad.
Here’s a fun thing to try. Set the sound to 2.0. Jump forward to one of the numerous scenes with a rock band playing (there are plenty of these – with songs played pretty much in their entirety). Hmmm. The volume is a bit low and there isn’t much surround. One has to crank the volume level. Leave the level where it is, and switch to the 5.1. Once your hearing returns, you’ll notice a colossal difference between the two. As weak as the 2.0 is, the 5.1 is almost too strong. The music is deafening, but the mix overcompensates with the dialogue, making it louder yet (though largely free of distortion). The surround effects are omnipresent and pretty good, though the placement is sometimes a bit indiscriminate.
The aspect ratio is 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen, and given how many of these low-budget releases are in fullscreen, this is cause for some celebration. The colours are solid, as are the contrasts, and edge enhancement isn’t a problem. Nice red blood, too. There is some grain, but it isn’t severe. The image is a bit soft, however.
The commentary track has two groups recorded separately: director Juan Mas, DP Doug Cheney and editor Jason Payne; and writers Jessica Dolan and Susannah Lowber. Everyone sounds very young and enthusiastic. Better things may lie in store for them. The featurette is a mockumentary, with everyone in character. Finally, there is the trailer plus ads for two other release. The menu’s main screen is animated and scored, and the next level of screens are scored only.
The effort doesn’t succeed, but it does try hard, and has some ambition.
Special Features List
- Audio Commentary
- “The Choke: The Legend Begins” Mockumentary