Tuesday, May 29, 2018

MOON CHILD (Cult Epics Blu-ray Review)

Directed By: Agusti Villaronga
Written By: Agusti Villaronga
Starring: Enrique Saldana, Maribel Martin, Lisa Gerrard
Color/120 Minutes/Not Rated
Region Free
Release Date: April 24, 2018

The Film
In 1986 Spanish director Agusti Villaronga stormed onto the scene with his film In A Glass Cage, a masterpiece of a horror thriller that is sure to ruin your day and put you in a terrible mood. I mean this in the best possible way. It is difficult to follow up a masterful debut as expectations will inevitably be high and Villaronga challenged himself with a much less straight forward story in MOON CHILD which is based on the Aleister Crowley book of the same name and a much bigger production as well.

MOON CHILD stars Enrique Saldana as David, a 12 year old boy who has been adopted by a scientific cult who has stockpiled children with psychic abilities in their compound. David has psychic abilities and has been told by an elder at the orphanage that he is the Moon Child, a prophesized God to an African tribe. The cult intends to use the children they have adopted to find the perfect genetic pairing to bear a child who they have impregnated with the power of the moon to create their own Moon Child. David escapes with the two selected to be the parents including Georgina (Lisa Gerrard) who David believes to be his mother and enter a transcontinental journey to escape the cult enduring love, loss, death and spiritual awakenings along the way.

Agusti Villaronga spectacularly weaves us through a kaleidoscope of mind bending images, locations full of and devoid of emotion and life, moody music from Dead Can Dance and ideas that will give your mind a workout. Villaronga is obviously more concerned with creating a journey for the viewer's subconcious than he is creating a neatly packaged narrative that gives us a beginning, middle and end despite there being a clear beginning, middle and end. The story is clear cut but it's more about the ideas, both the basic terrestrial ideas and the proposition of metaphysical ones that drive MOON CHILD to be something special. While most films would have us immediately concerned about David's escape from the cult the viewer is instead pondering the idea of his destiny as the El Nino De La Luna and what it means to be a god, worship a god and what powers the stars may hold over us.

MOON CHILD works because it the cast is quite good to go along with the deeper artistic ideas and expressions from Villaronga. Villaronga also gets the absolute most out of his locations from the seemingly endless pale white walls of the cult compound to the beautiful sands and rock caves of the African lands. MOON CHILD certainly feels like a bigger production than it may have been. Therein lies its slight downfall as well. I think the scope and breadth of the film and the concepts contained within made the simple emotional connection that I felt with the characters in In A Glass Cage fall by the way side. In A Glass Cage is a masterpiece because of how it can move the viewer emotionally as I stated before, completely ruin your day. MOON CHILD would never have that same reaction but it could have a similar impact on the viewer substituting sorrow and disgust for something more contemplative but I never quite got that emotional connection with David or any of the other characters at least not to the point that would elevate MOON CHILD from something quite good to something truly exceptional. Maybe I cursed myself by comparing MOON CHILD to In A Glass Cage, something I eluded to happening previously but I couldn't help myself as this was the first Agusti Villaronga film I have seen besides his debut film. It will be interesting to see how MOON CHILD fares after I've seen more of the director's work but for now it may not be another masterpiece but it is a very worthwhile piece of surrealist cinema.

The Audio & Video
Cult Epics has brought MOON CHILD to Blu-ray with a new HD transfer from the original 35mm negatives and the picture quality matches the impressive photography of the film. There's a healthy grain structure that maintains a natural film look. Colors are vivid and vibrant when needed such as the stark whites of the cult's headquarters and black levels are properly deep with no signs of compression issues or blocking. Detail levels are strong as well. The Spanish audio is presented in a 2.0 Dolby Digital mix with optional English subtitles. The audio is crisp and gives way to a perfect mix between the moody and perhaps overlooked soundtrack and the dialogue. There's no signs of background noise, popping, crackling or other distortions. Cult Epics has done right by MOON CHILD.

Please note: The images in this review have been taken from the DVD version of the film and do not represent the picture quality of the Blu-ray.

The Extras
The extras include an interview with writer/director Agusti Villaronga that is brand new for 2018 and covers everything from Villaronga's career to more specific topics about MOON CHILD and even what he and Guillermo Del Toro think of each other. It even includes a still picture of Villaronga signing the Blu-ray artwork which will serve as proper evidence for those that purchase the limited edition autographed version.

Also included is a still gallery featuring a number of lobby cards and the isolated soundtrack by Dead Can Dance.

The Bottom Line
MOON CHILD is a feast for the sense and a treat for the mind. For anyone looking for something that channels the works of Alejandro Jodorowsky or Fernando Arrabal look no further than this excellent release from Cult Epics.

MOON CHILD is available HERE

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