Sunday, July 14, 2013

Blu-ray Review: DEAD SOULS (2012)


Label: Scream Factory / Shout! Factory
Region Code:
TV Rating: MA
Duration: 92 Minutes
Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
Video: 1080p Widescreen (1.78:1)
Director: Colins Theys
Cast: Jesse James, Bill Moseley, Magda Apanowicz, Jaiden Kaine, Noah Fleiss, Geraldine Hughes
Tagline: Don't Go Home.

Dead Souls (2012)  starts off on a just the right note with a priest doing some chores in the barn when he just up and snaps, he takes a shovel to the family dog and then continues his murderous spree inside the house where he drowns his suffering wife, slashes his daughter's throat and slaughters his son. Apparently the son David knew that his father was about to flip the switch and hid away the youngest member of the family, a baby brother Bryan, somewhere where dad would not find him. The priest drags the bodies into the barn where he crucifies the family and himself on rough-lumber crosses he's erected. The local sheriff arrives on scene just as he priest drives in the last nail into his own palms before dying...

Now 17 years later the surviving baby has been adopted and goes by the name of Johnny, it's on his 18th birthday that he receives word of an unexpected inheritance, it's the very same farm from the start of the film, now if this sounds pretty familiar it is, we saw this very same set-up with Texas Chainsaw 3D (2013). Arriving on the farm, against his adopted mother's wishes, Johnny discovers who he really is and begins piecing together just why the town folk don't care for his presence on the farm much at all. The opening massacre is pretty savage and I would imagine that the 7 minutes of additional not seen in the original Chiller TV broadcast that are advertised make up much of this, it's a great starter.

The issues I have arise about a 1/3 of the way through the film when we get to the convoluted mystery of why that priest snapped and what the consequences are for Johnny these many years later. Without getting to spoiler-y it's got something to do with weird pagan-christian rituals and spirits inhabiting other bodies, there's definitely some promise to the premise, but the film quickly collapses under it's own convoluted wight and cannot live up to the intensity of the first few minutes of the film, it just fails completely.

The acting from the principal cast is pretty good, definitely not a horribly acted film. Genre veteran Bill Mosely (Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2) makes an appearance as the former Sheriff who's been a bit nutty since he discovered the massacre at the start of the film, he's there to deliver some poorly written exposition and it's a pretty shit role. Mosely's not the worst offender, there are also some side characters who give rather shoddy performances, and by the end of the film the surprisingly fantastic beginning and the few promising elements just don't add up to much, this is a pretty generic formulaic watch.

Blu-ray: Dead Souls (2012) is 
presented on Blu-ray with an AVC encoded 1080p transfer in widescreen (1.78:1) and while the digitally shot made-for-TV film is fairly sharp is rather bland looking, by design it's desaturated color scheme is cold and somewhat gray, it didn't work for me and drew attention to itself, just not a fan of the look of the film but the Blu-ray is probably indicative of what the filmmakers were going for, just not my cup o' tea, too drab. Also, it's a very feature with little to any depth to it. 

Surprisingly the DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 is pretty great, very strong audio presentation for this one, the 5.1 is quite immersive with some effective use of the surrounds, a few of the discreet channel effects caught me by surprise. The score didn't do much for me but it's a well balanced track with crisp dialogue.

Special features include an audio commentary with Director Colin Theys, and Screenwriter John Doolan, along with producer Andrew Gernhard and it's a pretty lively track even if I didn't quite appreciate the film. There's also a fun Blooper Reel, a tour of the set and a a few TV spots for the made-for-TV production. Surprisingly the disc includes a slipcase which puzzles me, so why does my scream Factory edition of Terror Train (1979( not have a slipcase but this mediocre Chiller production get one, that sort of bothers me more than it should. 

Verdict: Not an offensively terrible watch, just maybe something worse, middle of the road TV horror that's perhaps above average for Chiller production, and that's not very high praise. Shout! Factory have won me over with the schlocky Cannon title  Ninja III: The Domination (1984) but I'm not sure how I feel about 'em watering down their classic horror imprint with made-for-TV productions, it's not like this is a vintage TV horror like Dark Night of the Scarecrow (1981).  Unfortunately, it puts me in the position of not recommending a Scream Factory Blu-ray for the first time, I say wait for a rerun on Chiller TV or till it's streaming on Netflix. 2 Outta 5