Monday, April 28, 2014

Blu-ray Review: DEAD SHADOWS (2012) [Scream Factory]

Dead Shadows (2012)

Buy the Blu-ray or DVD

The Movie

The French "New Wave of Horror" has ridden high for the last several years, giving us the likes of Pascal Laugier (MARTYRS), Xavier Gens (FRONTIERS, THE DIVIDE), and Alexandre Aja (HAUTE TENSION, THE HILLS HAVE EYES), among others. Director David Cholewa follows in their footsteps with his debut feature, DEAD SHADOWS; though he misses the pack by a few strides.

At it's most basic, DEAD SHADOWS' plot is as follows:
Dead Shadows tells the terrifying story of Chris (Fabian Wolfrom), whose parents were brutally killed 11 years ago, on the same day that the Halley’s comet could be seen from earth. Tonight, a new comet is appearing and everyone in Chris’s building is getting ready for a party to celebrate the event. As the night falls, Chris discovers that people are starting to act strangely. They are becoming disoriented and violent and it doesn't take long before they begin to mutate into something far beyond recognition! In a fight for survival, Chris tries to escape from his building with the help of a gun-toting tenant (John Fallon – Death Race, Saw II) – but will they make it out alive?
I'm not quite sure that I would have used the word "terrifying" to describe DEAD SHADOWS, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. I'll be frank here... I absolutely LOVE the classic titles that Scream Factory releases on DVD/Blu-ray, but some of their modern acquisitions are hit and miss; especially the Chiller films that they release. Luckily, DEAD SHADOWS is not of those films. However, I didn't love it, either.

The best parts aspects of the film are those that are borrowed from, or that pay homage to, other films. I really liked it's Sci-Fi vibe, which was sort of an amalgamation of John Carpenter's THE THING and ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK, NIGHT OF THE COMET, and any other number of dystopian future-set films. Good, low-budget, independent Sci-Fi is hard to come by these days, and in that respect, DEAD SHADOWS does a lot with very little. I also thought the score was quite great, and I enjoyed the hints of John Carpenter inspiration.

On the other side of the coin, we don't quite get anything new here. Though innovation is not necessary, a movie should do something to set itself apart from the pack and bring something new to the table. As much as I love monster movies, HP Lovecraft, and mutants, DEAD SHADOWS kind of feels like something I've already seen before. Still, I have to give the filmmakers credit for trying; and they do succeed more than they fall short.

It also helps that the movie is only a little over an hour long. It's barely feature-length, but that does work for it because it doesn't have any real fat that needs trimming. Right from the start, things kick off and move at a swift pace. I never found myself disengaging from the story, and if there are any truly dull moments, they are over in the blink of an eye.

In the end, DEAD SHADOWS is an interesting story, and the movie is easily my favorite of Scream Factory's original acquisitions so far. It's fast-paced, delivers on the gooey stuff, and features some 
great visuals and music. Though it's not perfect, it's still a breath of fresh air in a genre that oftentimes tries reaching too far.

Movie Score


The Blu-ray

As usual, Scream Factory delivers us a great Blu-ray package. The disc comes with a slipcover, and there are a surprising amount of Special Features.

Video Quality (4/5)

The 1080p AVC-encoded image on the disc looks good. Details are sharp, for the most part, and there's not a lot of digital "enhancement" to get in the way. The best part of the movie are its visuals, so this is the way to go.

Audio Quality (4/5)

Is DEAD SHADOWS going to shake the foundations of your house? No. But the 5.1 DTS-HD audio track here is serviceable and sounds a lot better than many films of this budget. The mix is nice and even, dialog is clear, and the surrounds contribute to the overall atmosphere.

Extra Features (3.5/5)

Though not as packed as many of the "Collector's Edition" discs that Scream Factory puts out, DEAD SHADOWS has more extras than I expected. They are also worth your time, as they are well done.

  • Making-Of Special Effects Featurette
  • Deleted Scenes
  • Interview With Director David Cholewa
  • Theatrical Trailer and Teaser Trailer

Final Thoughts

I'm not hugely in love with DEAD SHADOWS, but Scream Factory does a bang-up job bringing the movie home on Blu-ray. The audio and video are very good, and there are a nice assortment of extra features on the disc. Ultimately, this is one of the best modern acquisitions that Scream has brought us, and I look forward to their upcoming titles.

Blu-ray Score


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