Monday, August 6, 2018

BREAKING IN (Unviersal Home Video Blu-ray Review)

Directed By: James McTeigue
Written By: Ryan Engle
Starring: Gabrielle Union, Billy Burke, Richard Cabral
Color/88 Minutes/PG-13
Region A
Release Date: August 7, 2018
Blu-ray/DVD/Digital HD

The Film
After the recent death of her father a mother (Gabrielle Union) brings her kids to his sprawling estate to prepare it for sale but find that the house is already occupied by a group of criminals looking for the safe they believe is hidden and full of cash. With her family in mortal danger Union must fight back to save their lives.

Let's start with the good, shall we? Gabrielle Union is pretty decent here, capable of handling the physical and emotional sides of her character well. The on-location shooting at a real house gives a sense of realism to the film even if the house is an absolute mansion compound with state of the art of security that no normal person could ever dream of affording. Director James McTeigue makes good use of the location. Otherwise the film sets itself up to be a digestible slice of Hollywood despite being something unremarkable or particularly memorable and that is perfectly fine. Not every movie has to be groundbreaking or a new spin on a genre. BREAKING IN, for the first half of the film was on its way to being that.

And then the bottom dropped out.

The second half of BREAKING IN is a train wreck filled with plot holes the size of the Grand Canyon, editing that if I called it sloppy I'd be extremely kind and forgiving because it is really just plain awful, performances from the cast that are simply not good but to be fair that's really due in part to the writing at this point as well. The entire movie asks you to overlook so many inconsistencies for the sake of convenience for itself and the situations it wants to set up that it is downright insulting.

Cookie cutter isn't necessarily a bad thing. I like when my cookies are the same size and I know what to expect when I bite in to them. You won't win any fancy awards or be the next big thing making cookie cutter cookies but you can at least make a product that the party will enjoy. BREAKING IN is the equivalent to biting into a cookie and finding out that chocolate chip is actually a cockroach and nobody wants to eat a cockroach.

The Audio & Video
Universal's Blu-ray of BREAKING IN is gorgeous. The 1080p presentation looks stellar, with deep, inky black levels that show no signs of compression or blocking issues. Colors are vivid and lifelike while detail levels are very high including finer detail like facial hair and surface textures. The audio is crisp and clear with a strong mix across the 5.1 lossless audio mix. From a technical standpoint this release is top notch.

The Extras
There are several featurettes included in the release taking us behind the scenes to look at various aspects of the filmmaking including Gabrielle Union's performance and her role as a protective mother, James McTeigue's direction and use of the real life location the movie was produced in and the film's action scenes. Also included is an alternate opening and deleted and extended scenes each with optional commentary from the director and a full length audio commentary track from the director and writer.

The Bottom Line
BREAKING IN had the potential to be a standard but altogether successful home invasion thriller but it completely falls apart and descends into the type of movie that if you're not rolling your eyes at it you're simply staring wide-eyed at the screen in amazement of how ludicrous what you're watching is.

BREAKING IN is available HERE

Saturday, August 4, 2018

Bill Zebub Announces New Film: The Most Offensive Movie Ever Made

Bill Zebub has made dozens upon dozens of films and has been distributed all over the world. He's been a B-movie king for decades with titles such as Holocaust Cannibal, Dickshark, Santa Claus: Serial Rapist and Antfarm Dickhole under his belt you can bet you're in for something special. He's also also someone I've shared a couple too many drinks and plenty of laughs with at conventions and can tell you he's good people. The point is if you support his upcoming film Clowna Nostra you will be supporting independent art and you can rest assured that you will get everything you are owed.

Check out the IndieGoGo HERE

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

FLORA (Mill Creek Blu-ray Review)

Directed By: Sasha Louis Vukovic
Written By: Sasha Louis Vukovic
Starring: Teresa Marie Doran, Dan Lin, Sari Mercer
Color/100 Minutes/Not Rated
Region A
Release Date: August 7, 2018

The Film
Set in 1929, a team on an expedition to an uncharted forest to map the terrain and document the local plant life finds the team that arrived before them have gone missing. They realize that the native flora contain a deadly bacteria and that their lives depend on escaping the mysterious forest with limited supplies as they're being attacked by nature itself.

FLORA is an ambitious debut project for writer/director Sasha Louis Vukovic who was pretty freshly out of film school when this production went underway. Not only did he take on a period piece but he focused the film on an invisible antagonist which makes the audience focus entirely on the story and doesn't give himself any wall to hide behind as he could have with a more special effects driven horror movie. And to his credit I think Vukovic is largely successful. FLORA is a tense thriller, with fleshed out characters who have genuine intentions and purpose within the film. There are a few moments where the direction gets a bit too into itself and goes for flare over simple effectiveness. I chalk this up to a new director trying to show what he's capable of and I understand that but it's not always necessary. Sasha Vukovic is a young director and I think he'll be able to dial in his style and feel out when to reel it in a bit in the future.

The cast is comprised of a group with limited experience and like their director, there's more to praise than to critique. Instances of stilted performances are spread amongst a believable ensemble who are more than up to the task of not only a dramatic but at times a physical performance as well with plenty of sprinting and carrying heavy equipment through the actual Canadian forest this movie was shot in. A period piece is only as believable as the set dressing and wardrobe and that is tough to accomplish with millions of dollars let alone with the $120,000 (Canadian) budget that the film had according to IMDB and I never once questioned that this film was taking place in the late 1920s. I applaud the Vukovic's writing and costuming of Olivia Ball to make sure the characters spoke and wore the era.

FLORA isn't perfect but it is quite good. Sometimes less is more and in separate instances FLORA both adheres to that rule and breaks it. The script has questionable character decisions and potential plot bumps if not holes regarding this unseen organism but I found myself engaged, entertained and totally invested by this adventure in minimalist horror that reminded me of M. Night Shyamalan's The Happening if The Happening if Shyamalan had written a script that was worth a damn. FLORA is a debut that avoids many of the stumbling blocks a young rookie director and writer fall victim of and is a promising start. I hope Sasha Vukovic works more in the horror and thriller genres in the coming years.

The Audio & Video
Mill Creek gives FLORA a home on Blu-ray and it looks very nice. The digital photography shines in the 2.00:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer with the lush greens of the forest popping and engulfing the screen. Skin tones look fleshy and natural with no signs of waxiness or pink coloring. There are no noticeable issues with black levels clumping up or becoming pixelated. The 5.1 DTS-HD audio mix sounds fantastic with the beautiful score shining through when it needs to be more in the foreground but blending nicely with the dialogue the rest of the time. The audio is crisp and clear with no distortion issues.

The Extras
Bonus features include a short behind the scenes featurette which provide a bit of insight into the development of the film and its production. Also included are deleted scenes and an audio commentary track with writer/director Sasha Louis Vukovic and stars Teresa Marie Doran and Dan Lin.

The Bottom Line
FLORA had success on the festival circuit and deservedly so. It now has a very respectable home on Blu-ray and I think it deserves a place on every horror fan's watch list.

FLORA is available HERE