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(aka "Preston Castle" )

 

directed by Martin Rosenberg
USA 2012

 

After a bad breakup with her college boyfriend, Liz (Mackenzie Firgens, THE HAMILTONS) has moped away most of her spring break at home. Wanting to have a little fun with her friend Ashley (Heather Tocquigny, INSIDIOUS) who invites Liz's high school boyfriend Danny (Jake White, the CHILDREN OF THE CORN remake) along on a trip to the lake. Liz desires something more exciting so Danny suggests a night trip to Preston Castle, California's oldest reform school which was opened from the late 1890's to the 1960's. No mention is made that the landmark is actually open for tours, but the trio are able to sneak into the derelict building rather easily in broad daylight. After a few false scares while exploring the building, Danny tells that Preston Castle is believed to be haunted following the beating death of young inmate Bobby by the other boys who believed him responsible for the death of housekeeper Anna Corbin (who was actually murdered there in 1950 but whose murderer was never discovered). Since then, there have supposedly been multiple deaths and disappearances of anyone who dares to stay the night. When a freaked-out Ashley leaves Liz and Danny to get reacquainted and fails to come back, Liz wants to look for her and mocks Danny's growing fears about things that literally begin to go bump in the night.

Although highly derivative, PRESTON CASTLE is technically well-made and takes advantage of one of California's most striking "haunted" locations and is undemanding entertainment with some effective jumps. Characterization-wise, the film starts out interestingly enough with the freshly-dumped Liz seeming to be the sympathetic character but seeming less so as subsequent scenes demonstrate how far she has grown apart from her two friends who have not managed to get out into the world. All that is out the window of course once Ashley disappears and then Liz and Danny are wandering around in circles searching for her (the dialogue similarly falls back on reiterations of "bad things have happened here" rather than advancing the backstory with additional incidents historical or fabricated for the script). Cross-cutting and fades to black once the characters have split up does rob some of the tension in favor of jump scares, but things pick up considerably once it is just Liz running around terrified as the film cuts back and forth between her and her camcorder (which sometimes picks up things Liz cannot see in front of her). It all ends as expected (including a most-overused ending shot in "found footage" horror movies), but A HAUNTING AT PRESTON CASTLE is diverting enough to take in as Halloween binge-viewing this season.

Eric Cotenas

Theatrical Release: 3 November 2012 (USA)

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DVD Review: Inception Media - Region 1 - NTSC

Big thanks to Eric Cotenas for the Review!

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Distribution

Inception Media

Region 1 - NTSC

Runtime 1:22:13
Video

1.78:1 Original Aspect Ratio

16X9 enhanced
Average Bitrate: 6.4 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
Subtitles English SDH, English (CC), none
Features Release Information:
Studio: Inception Media

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen anamorphic - 1.78:1

Edition Details:
• Trailer (16:9; 1:54)
• Start-up trailers for '5 Souls', 'A Haunting at Silver Falls', and 'Ghost of Goodnight Lane'

DVD Release Date: 7 October 2014
Amaray

Chapters 10

 

Comments

It is hard to tell if Inception Media's single-layer, progressive, anamorphic encode or the original photography is at fault but the framing has some oddities. The fake camcorder viewfinder display information and framelines are cropped on the sides during the first third of the film but are better framed during the rest of the film, and one scene acquires black pillarbox matting on the left side of the frame mid-shot. Otherwise, the transfer is well-suited to the film with the image looking generally slick (apart from edge-enhancement, although some of that might be part of the original video or part of the compression after color correction and editing) while the camcorder POV shots are appropriately noisier and the phone camera shots are washed out with higher contrast and jerky motion.

 

The Dolby Digital 5.1 track features mainly "eerie ambience" (as the SDH subtitles and closed captioning refers to it) in the surrounds, but appropriately folds down to stereo whenever we get a camcorder or phone camera shot. The only extras are the film's trailer and three start-up trailers.

  - Eric Cotenas

 


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DVD Box Cover

CLICK to order from:

 

 

Distribution

Inception Media

Region 1 - NTSC

 




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