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(aka "Cult" )


directed by Jon Knautz
Canada 2010


When an American backpacker (Ben Lewis, STIR OF ECHOES: THE HOMECOMING) goes missing in Poland, investigative journalist Carmen (Cindy Sampson, THE LAST KISS) wants to investigate despite the disinterest of her editor. She and her intern Sara (Meghan Heffern, THE FOG remake) discover that five other Americans have disappeared in the same area in the last fifty years, with their luggage turning up in random parts of Eastern Europe with no record of the missing persons entering those countries. They approach the missing backpacker's mother (Laura de Carteret, DIARY OF THE DEAD) who gives them access to her son's returned luggage and discover his travel diary. The last entry is about a village called Alvania with unfriendly villagers and a strange standing fog hovering deep in the woods. Under the guise of covering a story about dying bees in Omaha, Carmen, Sara, and Carmen's photographer boyfriend Marcus (Aaron Ashmore, TV's SMALLVILLE) head to Alvania. The locals - who conveniently are taught a smattering of English in school - violently discourage their inquiries (especially when they start heading towards the standing fog in the woods). Although Marcus thinks it would be a good idea if they forgot about the story, Carmen is determined to discover what the village is hiding. They park their car outside of the village and sneak up into the woods. Sara is the first to venture into the fog (which has a finite border), and when she does not return Carmen ventures in and discovers a demonic statue (which provides the basis for the film's one effective creepy shot). The two women return out of the fog disturbed about their discovery, and are ready to leave when creepy little girl Lidia (Julia Debowska) promises to lead them to the whereabouts of the missing backpacker: the titular shrine, where they make a gruesome discovery and may never be allowed to leave.

While Canada unconvincingly stands in for Poland, the fog-shrouded area of the woods has a pleasingly studio-bound feel of older horror films (particularly Mario Bava's BLACK SUNDAY, which is referenced with a prominently-featured iron mask). Despite this, the film is a mishmash the Americans-in-a-creepy-foreign-backwoods-getting-tortured, and exorcisms, all delivered in a highly derivative manner: drugged and strapped down victims, holy water and crosses catching fire, and NIGHT OF THE DEMONS-esque demons acting in an EVIL DEAD-esque fashion in addition to the usual attempted jump scares. It doesn't help that our protagonist is not particularly likable (the traits of driven and impassioned are rendered in characterization as annoyed and dismissive), steering her intern into danger and tricking her boyfriend into believing that she has official go-ahead to pursue the story (she also proposed the trip as a way of reconnecting with him before admitting that she picked Poland - as opposed to his suggestion of the Cayman Islands - because that's where the story is), and picks the moment to get all weepy and apologetic while the three are trying to quietly hide from the angered villagers). A degree of ambiguity usually is a good thing in a supernatural horror film, and the film would have been better off with the insufficient final scene "explanation." Co-star/executive producer Trevor Matthews (JACK BROOKS: MONSTER SLAYER) - who plays the chief threatening local Henryk - studied anthropology, so I would like to assume that the final script (co-written with director Jon Knautz and Brendan Moore) was heavily streamlined into something generic enough to be marketable.

Eric Cotenas


Theatrical Release: 14 October 2010 (USA)

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DVD Review: Arrow Films - Region 2 - PAL

Big thanks to Eric Cotenas for the Review!

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Arrow Films

Region 2 - PAL

Runtime 1:20:33 (4% PAL speedup)

1.78:1 Original Aspect Ratio

16X9 enhanced
Average Bitrate: 5.8 mb/s
PAL 720x576 25.00 f/s

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


Audio English Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo
Subtitles none
Features Release Information:
Studio: Arrow Films

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen anamorphic - 1.78:1

Edition Details:
• Start-up trailer for HATCHET II

DVD Release Date: February 27th, 2012

Chapters 12



Arrow's single-layer progressive, anamorphic transfer disappointingly offers its audio in 2.0 stereo only (the company's Region B Blu-Ray edition features DTS-MA 5.1, in addition to a PCM encoding of the stereo track). There was certainly room for the 5.1 track since the combined feature, menus, and start-up material totals to 3.27 GB. That said, the medium video bitrate and stereo audio are perfectly serviceable. There are no extras other than the Arrow Video promo and start-up trailer for HATCHET II. A small annoyance is that the thumbnails in the scene selection menus are reversed so that stills from chapters 7-12 represent chapters 1-6 (a thumbnail of the ending credits crawl illustrates chapter 6).

US and Canadian releases - through Zeitgeist Films and Mongrel Media, respectively - have been announced for May of this year (DVD editions are only listed at the moment). No extras are known at the time.

  - Eric Cotenas


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