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Category:    Home > Reviews > Gangster > Drama > Thriller > Torture Porn > Murder > French > Horror > Drugs > Zombie > Stalking > Spain > Asylum (aka I Want To Be A Gangster/2008/Synapse DVD)/Overtime (2012/VCI Blu-ray w/DVD)/Sleep Tight (2011/Dark Sky DVD)

Asylum (aka I Want To Be A Gangster/2008/Synapse DVD)/Overtime (2012/VCI Blu-ray w/DVD)/Sleep Tight (2011/Dark Sky DVD)


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



Here are two recent action/gangster films that turn into horror films and one that is a thriller from the beginning…



Olivier Chateau’s Asylum (aka I Want To Be A Gangster/2008) starts out as a drama as Jack (Julian Courbey) starts by telling us he always wanted to be a gangster in a very tired, boring GoodFellas/Martin Scorsese reference (he even sounds like he is repeating the film’s famous line; one of many) so this starts out as some kind of gangster genre work, but turns into a stuck-in-a story with a torture porn side to it as Jack is tied to a tree and we wonder if he (and we watching this mess will survive to the end.


The majority of the latter script is about him being tied up, so the gangster part is a misleading pretense and though this is actually a low budget French production, it felt as bad as the many U.S. counterparts we have suffered through and the image is purposely degraded throughout (more on that in a moment below) making it worse.  I do not know what the makers where thinking and doubt they truly know either, but unless the intent was to artificially make some kind of cult item, it is a dud.  Now you can see for yourself.


Extras include 3 Promotional Trailers, Chateau’s short Homer and a Making Of featurette.



In Overtime (2012), a relatively young drug dealer escapes prison thanks to a clever female lawyer, but is up to all kinds of immediately profitable and dangerous business, so much so that a gunfight breaks out not long after he appears free on a TV news program.  A U.S. indie production, it also has too many clichés like the above release, but the makers at least give this one some energy.  However, when the script runs out of gangster ideas, it becomes a zombie flick!


The cast is not awful and they seem to be having fun on this one, but besides taking on more than the makers could handle, having two directors instead of one in both Brian Cunningham and Matt Niehoff further confused a situation where it is obvious both failed to make this work through shear inexperience.  They should have stuck to one director who could concentrate.  I don’t think this will be a cult item either, but n this case, genre fans will at least be amused.


Extras include a feature length audio commentary track where the makers explain themselves with co-stars Al Snow & John Wells, a Press Promo, a Trailer, a Behind The Scenes featurette and a 20+ minutes featurette dubbed a Documentary.



Finally from Spain, Jaume Balaguero’s Sleep Tight (2011), set in an apartment building where the male receptionist/concierge/doorman César (Luis Tosar) is friendly to everyone, takes care of things the best he can and is up to no good.  Specifically, he is unhappy, a sociopath and is obsessed with a beautiful woman named Clara (Marta Etura) who he is spying on.


As a matter of fact, he is hiding in her room at nights until she is asleep (she lives alone), puts her to sleep using chloroform and then goes to sleep with her.  Turns out he is also having sex with her without knowing it and starts doing more bizarre things, but when she starts bringing her boyfriend around, things take a turn for the more bizarre.


Needless to say the film is creepy, well cast and even atmospheric, it starts to run into logic troubles in the end and even in the conclusion is technically possible, it I also dumb, stupid, somewhat illogical and when you think about it, does not add up or is very realistic as conclusive.  I cannot say anything else or I would reveal plot points, but I was disappointed, especially since this was going so initially well.


Extras include a trailer and Making Of featurette.



The anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 image on Asylum is degraded and noisy throughout, oddly on purpose including what looks like endless edge enhancement shot on digital video of some kind with a limited color range on the sepia tone side.  It adds nothing to the already problematic narrative and is a mess.  The same type of image playback on the Overtime DVD is soft, but has better color and definition by default, even with its many flaws, motion blur and some minute aliasing errors that are also present in the better 1080p 1.78 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer on its Blu-ray version that shows it is a better HD shoot.


That leaves the anamorphically enhanced 2.35 X 1 image on Tight with color, but often also slightly darkened and even decolorized in its look, though it looks like full color versus Asylum.



The lossy French Dolby Digital 5.1 surround on Asylum is very weak with location audio that is troublesome throughout and practically simple stereo.  Overtime has a similar mix on its DVD and PCM 5.1 and 2.0 Stereo sound on its Blu-ray version and the best sound on the list.  However, it too is a stereo production with limited surrounds and I thought the PCM Stereo on the Blu-ray sounded best for the film and as the best representation of the fidelity of its soundmaster.


Tight offers a lossy Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 mix that is well recorded, but quiet and dialogue-based in nature, so surrounds are only engaged so often, though the music score by Lucas Vidal is not bad.


-   Nicholas Sheffo


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