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directed by Steven Peros
USA 2009

 

Surgeon Elizabeth (Robin Weigert, TV's DEADWOOD) has relocated to a new town after the accidental death of her fiancee. She rents a remote house that was once a Civil War field hospital with its own Confederate ghost. Despite concerns from her friend Rachael (Sybil Temtchine, THE SWEETEST THING) that Elizabeth has stopped seeing her therapist and thrown out her anti-depressants, Elizabeth fills her free time by resuming her interest in painting and her work hours with an interest in comatose stabbing victim Jason (Anthony Carrigan), which causes tension between her and operating surgeon Russell (Jay O. Sanders, EDGE OF DARKNESS). When the ghostly presence of civil war soldier Elijah (Paul David Story, IN TIME) makes itself known, Elizabeth embraces the presence (who also lost the love of his life). When Jason's wife decides to have him removed from life support, Elizabeth manages to resuscitate him and transport him to her home on a newly-introduced high-tech gurney (with built-in monitors and defibrillators) where she hopes to coax Elijah's spirit into the soulless body. The result is successful and Elijah lives again in Jason's body. Elizabeth and Elijah consummate their relationship and - out of necessity - keep their relationship (and Elijah's existence) private. While Elizabeth is away at a party thrown by Rachael, Elijah goes out to a bar and gets into a fight with the boyfriend of a flirtatious girl. When the girl turns up dead the next morning and the description of the last person she was seen with matches the presumed-dead Jason, Lt. Wascoe (Wes Studi, AVATAR) starts snooping around and finds that Jason's body has become untraceable after it was signed off by Elizabeth. When Elizabeth confesses her secret to Rachael, her friend raises the concern that Jason might either be conning her or - if she were to buy the ghost story - that perhaps not all traces of Jason's murderous personality are gone from his body.

The directorial debut of Peros (who had previously adapted his own play for Peter Bogdanovich's THE CAT'S MEOW), THE UNDYING gets off to a nice start with an atmospheric location and a good lead performance from Weigert. The hauntings by the spectral form of Elijah are effective (including two jump scares that actually work). Unfortunately, once the ghost takes over a living body, the film veers into supernatural romance territory for a very long stretch. Elizabeth's attempts to acquaint Elijah with modern life are played for subtle humor (Elijah mistaking landlord Henry [Franklin Ojeda Smith, INVINCIBLE] for "the house negro" and so fascinated with television that he becomes a bit of a couch potato while Elizabeth is at work), but pacing of most of the second act is entirely too leisurely. Robert F. Smith's photography veers between atmospheric and bland (all of the sequences at Elizabeth's house are well-lit, while the exteriors and hospital scenes have a flat-looking TV look), and Christopher Caliendo's score - other than some Nathan Barr-esque strings - is more than a bit intrusive at times (particularly the see-sawing piece that underscores Elizabeth's smuggling of Jason's body out of the hospital).

Eric Cotenas

Posters

Theatrical Release:

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DVD Review: MTI Home Video (screener) - Region 1 - NTSC

Big thanks to Eric Cotenas for the Review!

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Distribution

MTI Home Video

Region 1 - NTSC

Runtime 1:47:28
Video

1.78:1 Original Aspect Ratio

16X9 enhanced
Average Bitrate: 4.71 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 stereo
Subtitles English (CC), Spanish, none
Features Release Information:
Studio: MTI Home Video

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen anamorphic - 1.78:1

Edition Details:
• Audio Commentary by director Steven Peros
• Theatrical Trailer (16:9; 1:29)
• Photo Gallery
• Trailers for HUNTED BY NIGHT, ONE IN THE GUN, and RESURRECTION COUNTY

DVD Release Date: 13 December 2011
Amaray

Chapters 12

 

Comments

MTI's DVD features a progressive, single-layer, anamorphic transfer that attractively renders the alternately dark and flat cinematography. Optional Spanish subtitles and English closed-captioning are included. The only extras are a theatrical trailer and a director's commentary. Director Peros spends a way too much time describing obvious character motivations and on-screen actions, but he also discusses changes to the script based on the actors, points out one of the principle interior locations as a convincing set, as well as the film's indebtedness to the Orson Welles film THE STRANGER (he also mentions how the sound work saved a jump scare he initially cut). Trailers for other MTI releases round out the package.

  - Eric Cotenas

 


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DVD Box Cover

CLICK to order from:

 

 

Distribution

MTI Home Video

Region 1 - NTSC

 

 




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