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Category:    Home > Reviews > Mystery > Murder > Thriller > Supernatural > Satanism > Bandit > Chase > Psychic > Demon > All Good Things (2009/Magnolia Blu-ray) + Beneath The Dark (2009/IFC/MPI DVD) + Dirty Mary, Crazy Larry/Race With The Devil (1974 – 1975/Shout! Factory DVD) + Hereafter (2010/Warner Blu-ray w/DVD) + T

All Good Things (2009/Magnolia Blu-ray) + Beneath The Dark (2009/IFC/MPI DVD) + Dirty Mary, Crazy Larry/Race With The Devil (1974 – 1975/Shout! Factory DVD) + Hereafter (2010/Warner Blu-ray w/DVD) + The Resident (2010/Hammer/Image Blu-ray) + Siren (2010/Lionsgate DVD)


Picture: B-/C/C+/B & C/B/C     Sound: B-/C+/C+/B+ & C+/B/C+     Extras: B-/D/C+/B/D/C-     Films: B-/D/C+ & B-/B-/C+/C-



And now for a look at a wide variety of thrillers, from A-movie productions to B-movie successes and failures…



Andrew Jarecki’s All Good Things (2009) is one of the better films and stars the underrated Ryan Gosling as the real life Robert Durst, a young man with a bad relationship with his father (Frank Langella) who is a real estate magnate of sorts.  This does not make Robert very happy, but the beautiful Kathie McCormack (Kirsten Dunst) seems to and he gets involved with her.  They get married and things seem to be good, until he starts becoming possessive and abusive.  When she disappears, he is the #1 suspect, but he flees.  Then things become odder still.


Set in the late 1970s/early 1980s, it does the period well and recreates the various atmospheres necessary to tell the story, but it wants to show everything without judgment and though that is good thing journalistically, it causes the narrative of the film to not be certain what it wants to say about the situation.  Still, I liked the film enough to recommend it and give it credit for being bold enough to at least tell the story and tell it well.


Extras include two feature length audio commentary tracks (you learn more about them, but wait until you’ve seen the film before hearing them or who is on them), Deleted Scenes of interest, three featurettes on the making of the film and BD Live interactive features.


Chad Feehan’s Beneath The Dark (2009) is yet another ‘naïve couple checks into a hotel and cannot possibly believe they are being watched’ thriller and this is as bad as any of them with no originality, suspense, character development or point.  Josh Stewart and Jamie-Lynn Sigler are the couple and this is just a total waste.  A trailer is the only extra.


Our only double feature offering here is Dirty Mary, Crazy Larry (1974) + Race With The Devil (1975) from Shout! Factory as part of their arrangement with Fox to get some of the more cutting edge action films from their catalog out on the market in keeping with the Shout! image.  Devil is practically the same DVD we covered (in a now out of print edition) years ago at this link, right down to the extras:




Larry is another entry from the bandit/chase cycle of the time and has the honor of being one of the ones with the roughest dialogue as former NASCAR driver Larry (Peter Fonda), equally wild Mary (Susan George) and buddy Deke (Adam Rourke) rob a supermarket (!) and are on the run from a vicious cop (Vic Morrow) in this watchable but sometimes uneven entry into the cycle.  Extras include feature length audio commentary by Director John Hough (Legend Of Hell House), Theatrical Trailers, TV Spots, Radio Spots and making of featurette Ride The Wild Side.


Clint Eastwood’s Hereafter (2010) received a great amount of negative response, even down to people asking if Eastwood was overrated as a director.  I actually think it is an interesting departure for him in two ways.  One, he is trying to do something of a European writerly narrative in conveying the psychic world and two, tries to see if he can work with giant digital visual effects.  The fact that after a brief opening scene, the audience is hit with a giant digital tsunami flies against what you would expect from an Eastwood film and that apparently turned off many.  It also shows how superfluous such moments are, like a bad song in a movie that stops the narrative from happening.  Recent events in Japan make it seem less impressive still.


However, Matt Damon as a man haunted by death and his psychic gifts has its moments and his quest to find peace intersecting with that of a woman (Cécile de France) is not set up in a shallow manner, though some have pointed out that the book this is based on has none of these elements Peter Morgan’s screenplay offers.


In a few years, people will come back to this film and revisionist thinking will begin on it, as well as an analysis on why it received such hostile reaction, but I liked it more than not and give Eastwood credit for trying new things out and keeping them within the narrative.


Extras include Digital Copy for PC and PC portable devices, Step Into The Hereafter with Eastwood & Damon featurette (both Blu-ray exclusives) and the a High Definition version of the extended documentary The Eastwood Factor that we previously reviewed on DVD at this link:





The resurrected Hammer Films is back with Antti J. Jokinen’s The Resident (2010), a new thriller that once again has the lead (Hilary Swank as a surgeon in this case) moving into a New York City apartment for a price that is too good to be true.  Run by a father (Christopher Lee) and his son (Jeffrey Dean Morgan), it is near many noisy vehicles and construction, but she takes it.  Too bad someone is watching her and maybe much more.


I liked the locales and set-up very much with Swank continuing to prove to be one of the best actors of her generation and we do get some creepy and suspenseful moments worthy of the Hammer legacy.  However, this eventually becomes more formulaic than it should and at the point its Vertigo-like twist is revealed, it starts to implode somewhat, but I was still watching.  This should have been longer and had more twists, but still manages to be better than many similar films and having Swank and Lee together is a plus.  There are no extras.


Finally, Andrew Hull’s Siren (2010) is a really bad demon/seductress flick with no originality, silly sexuality, no suspense and no point, though the island location could have been pumped up, but we instead get something that is a combination of Dead Calm and Knife In The Water (as if Hull knew or understood those films) for goofs.  If they had just tired to make this smart and suspenseful, this could have at least been watchable, but it is not.  Deleted Scenes and a trailer are the only extras.



The 1080p 1.78 X 1 digital High Definition image on Things may be stylized to look like a slightly older era, but it is overdone to the expense of detail, color and even some depth.  We also get some noise, but it holds up well otherwise.  The 1080p 2.35 X 1 digital High Definition image on both Hereafter and Resident are the best performers on this list with rich images that can have solid depth, good detail and deliver above what a DVD could deliver, as the anamorphically enhanced DVD of Hereafter proves with its weak detail, color and very weak Video Black.  Both Blu-rays have some styling to their image, but it is limited in how detrimental it is in playback.

The anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 image on the double feature are from good color prints that have some age to show, but playback just fine otherwise, though the similar aspect ratio framing of Beneath is much weaker, softer and paler like the anamorphically enhanced 2.35 X 1 image on Siren, both new bad productions with digital shooting and/or bad digital internegative work.  Very sloppy shooting too.


The DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 mixes on the Blu-rays very, with Things being dialogue-based and period, so it has the most limited fidelity, though I liked the music score and choice of hit records.  Resident is in second place with more dynamic range in its music and sound effects, plus dialogue is well recorded for the most part.  That leaves Hereafter ranging between the fidelity of Resident and going further in its action and surreal sequences, plus offering a strong .1 LFE track, but the Dolby Digital 5.1 mix on the DVD version cannot match it.


The Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono on the double features are fine for their age and can show their age, but are as clean as a lossy presentation like this can be.  That leaves the newer thrillers Beneath and Siren with Dolby Digital 5.1 mixes that underperform, are weak, have poor soundfields and sound barely newer than the films from the 1970s!



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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