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directed by Fruit Chan
South Africa/Japan 2009

 

Film director Marcus Reed (Reshad Strik, THE HILLS HAVE EYES PART II [the remake sequel]) is prone to supernatural visions which guided him to make his first horror hit but disastrously pull out of his sophomore effort. Inspired by a production still from an unfinished Hungarian horror film (the director was killed and the cast and crew vanished) based on a gypsy folktale about a gypsy woman who makes a deal with the devil to land a powerful husband in exchange for providing her first-born daughter to give birth to his spawn, Reed pens a script inspired by both the legend and what supposedly happened behind the scenes of the film. Leaving behind his cancer-stricken ex Claire (Alyssa Sutherland), Reed heads to Romania to shoot the film in the abandoned Transylvanian studio where the original film was shot. Right away, Reed and his crew experience strange occurrences (strange accidents, spectral figures, a creepy old man lurking about, footage from the lost original film appearing in the dailies of the matching remake scene - too bad that doesn't happen and spook crews off of real remakes - crew members turned psychotic, and freak accidents) but producer Josh (Henry Thomas, E.T.) tries to keep things together (he had to pay off crew members from Reed's failed previous feature to keep quiet about it) in the usual manner of producers/mayors/sheriffs in horror movies even in the face of imminent death. As Reed's visions get stronger and more crew die or disappear, he begins to suspect that there is some truth to the legend that inspired the film. A remake of Hideo Nakata's lesser-seen pre-RINGU horror pic GHOST ACTRESS (1996), DON'T LOOK UP would be disappointing among his uneven recent output but it is even more disappointing (and a downright odd choice) as the first English horror effort by Fruit Chan (whose short DUMPLINGS - and its feature version - was the standout entry of THREE... EXTREMES which placed him up against Takashi Miike and Chan-Wook Park). Whereas SEED OF CHUCKY was shot in Romania standing in for a Universal Studios backlot, DON'T LOOK UP was shot on a Universal Studios backlot made to look like a Romanian village. That the film is shot in Hollywood rather than one of the two tax-break countries involved in the production may be the only point of interest in this mess (well, there's also Poon Hang-Sang's gorgeous cinematography). Early on, we see Marcus writing part of the script that suggests it is a film within a film (within a film) but during the filming we only see the actors playing the characters in the original film and no actors cast as the filmmakers and we are given little idea of the lost film's story beyond the reshooting of scene shown in the flashback, a grotesque birthing scene, and some barely glimpsed gory images that find their way into the dailies (looking no more convincing as vintage footage than the footage from the lost film which looks like black and white HD video with a grain effect added in post). Characters going abruptly berserk should be a sign of supernatural influence (which seems in retrospect to be working against what these forces are ultimately aiming for) but instead it (and the ethereal supernatural presence of Claire) make the film seem as disjointed as the film within a film. Strik and Carmen Chaplin are photogenic leads but his wide-eyed shocked expressions and her Romanian accent are the most memorable aspects of their performances while Thomas pulls off the profit-driven producer schtick well enough. Only Lothaire Bluteau (JESUS OF MONTREAL), Kevin Corrigan (THE DEPARTED), and Robert Towers (THE CURIOUS CASE OF BENJAMIN BUTTON) making much of an impression. Effects are CGI heavy with a few J-horror-esque visuals that no longer prove unsettling and the half-glimpsed shocking gore effect from the film's trailer proves to be a make-up illusion in the film within a film. HOSTEL director Eli Roth turns up in the obligatory pre-credits flashback which falls flat (having been preceded by three screens of text about the legend which might have been more effectively revealed in the course of the film). A running time just over eighty minutes and several minutes of padded end credits suggests some post-production interference (which may explain why the film hit DVD/BluRay nearly a year after the trailer first popped up on the net).

Eric Cotenas

Posters

Theatrical Release:

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DVD Review: E1 Entertainment - Region 1 - NTSC

Big thanks to Eric Cotenas for the Review!

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Distribution

E1 Entertainment

Region 1 - NTSC

Runtime 1:26:09
Video

1.78:1 Original Aspect Ratio

16X9 enhanced
Average Bitrate: 5.73 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Bitrate

Audio English Dolby Digital 5.1; English Dolby Digital 2.0 surround
Subtitles English, none
Features Release Information:
Studio: E1 Entertainment

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen anamorphic - 1.78:1

Edition Details:
• Making of (16:9; 32:50)
• Behind the Scenes (16:9; 20:49)
• Theatrical Trailer (16:9; 2:45)
• Start-up trailers for SUCK, PARASOMNIA, and FOUR BOXES.

DVD Release Date: 27 July 2010
Amaray

Chapters 12

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Comments

E1's DVD features a dual-layer, anamorphic, progressive transfer that probably represents the Panavision HD-shot feature as well as SD-DVD can (a Blu-ray available HERE). The English 5.1 and 2.0 tracks are typically overdone for a horror film full of darting figures accompanied by musical stings, jump scares, and AMITYVILLE-esque swarms of flies buzzing in surround.

The motion main menu is scored with Doping Panda's techno "Gaze at Me" which is used in the feature over the end credits for no particular reason - other than this being a Japanese co-production - and is probably the only distinctive part of the film's soundtrack. A lengthy "making of" featurette, "behind the scenes" video, and a theatrical trailer round out the package.

  - Eric Cotenas

 



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DVD Box Cover

CLICK to order from:

 

 

 

Distribution

E1 Entertainment

Region 1 - NTSC

 

 




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