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The Clovehitch Killer (Blu-ray Review)

IFC Midnight typically picks up some really nifty independent horror films that usually wind up on the Scream Factory Blu-ray line. Not all are complete successes, but you can at least see why they’d be interested. The combo of IFC Midnight and Scream Factory is almost an immediate sign of quality when it comes to super low budget and very independent productions. The Clovehitch Killer is their most recent release and its comes with quite a bit of buzz to where I’d had people recommending this film to me before I’d even heard about it. It featured a festival screening, small theatrical release and a VOD one. Seeing the IFC Midnight logo on it, I’d figured the Factory of Scream was bound to be releasing it in the near future and I’d held off. In addition, I decided to go in on recommendation, title and poster image alone, as dark as possible. You’ll be able to own this compelling little serial killer thriller when it arrives on Blu-ray March 5th!

Film 

After Tyler finds a cache of disturbing images in his father’s possession, he begins to suspect that the man he trusts most in the world may be responsible for a series of unsolved murders. With the help of his newfound companionship in the school outcast obsessed with the Clovehitch killer case, they dig in to see if Charlie’s worst fears may be an unsettling truth.

The Clovehitch Killer is a movie that deceives and lulls you into suspecting something particular about it or making you believe you know how this film is going, but is sneakily five steps ahead of you and full of surprises at many turns. While much of the surface level narrative are what they are on the surface, its in the details of how they are told which make it quite special. As mentioned, the film had come highly recommended and every time I questioned what the heck people might have been seeing in this film, I was pleasantly surprised it would instantly be revealed to me. The film plays a nice few tricks while also just doing a damn fine job of presenting an honest, disturbing serial killer drama.

True crime documentaries area all the rage right now and I’m sure this is a film aimed at that crowed, but those who love a more grisly horror can appreciate this too. In the highest of compliments, I was constantly reminded and given the feeling of something like Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer. This almost feels like the softer, PG-13 cousin of that. Like when you compare Eli Roth’s Green Inferno to that of Cannibal Holocaust. Both tell the same kind of effective, horrorific story, but one of the two is obviously an easier and more accessible film to watch and return to.

Dylan McDermott is an actor I’ve never been very high on, but this film is quite the exception. He puts on a hell of a show here in what I feel is his career best performace.  And he’s damned good here. There are so many layers, nuances and moments of brilliance in every facial expression of bodily movement that really enhances the film at hand. The kids in the film are also quite good themselves, and without either of them being so good, it would never work. Credit to the writers as well, as they’ve come up with such a strong story and characters in this world.

Believe the hype, The Clovehitch Killer is quite the film. I’d say its more of a horror-drama thank it would be played for any sort of jumpy scares or gore (For the subject matter, its rather friendly). Its a very disturbing movie, but part of that has to be how real the world of the film looks, feels and sounds. It doesn’t look or feel like a movie production, but more of an actual movie showcasing events in a real town, real homes and with real people. Right down to the foley sounds. For some reason, the little things just add to how creepy it can get. I don’t want to spoil anything as I went in blind myself, but seek out the film as soon as you’re able.

Video 

Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio:

Layers: BD-50

Clarity/Detail: The Clovehitch Killer debuts on Blu-ray having been shot digitally. It comes with a very digital look and definitely more HD than a 4K look. This is evident in the blacks and the overall saturation of the picture. The image is slick, sharp and gets the job done with some really good detail.

Depth:  Spacing is pretty decent with nice smooth, natural movements in the image. Foreground and background have solid enough push-back distancing with some interior shots effective constructed and executed.

Black Levels: Blacks are pretty bright and and with a very white sheen on them, looking pretty far from natural. None distracting but its not as deep and sinister as would help the film. No crushing issues witnessed.

Color Reproduction: Colors are quite muted as is the look of the film. Though there are some shots of fall leaves that look pretty popping and gorgeous. Rustic colors like browns do feel warm and comforting in their appearance.

Flesh Tones: Skin tones are a bit cold and consistent from the beginning to end of the film. Facial features and textures come clear in all close up shots and most medium and reasonably distanced camera angles.

Noise/Artifacts: Clean

Audio 

Audio Format(s): English 5.1 DTS-HD MA, English 2.0 Stereo DTS-HD MA

Subtitles: English

Dynamics: The Clovehitch Killer comes with a solid 5.1 track and the option for a stereo track. While the 5 channel track is pretty solid, loose and brings good clarity, nothing really stretches the film much to suggest it isn’t more than a glorified 2.0 track. That said, there is very good balance and contributions from the rear that are nice, but needed to be more present. This isn’t anything new with a lot of these IFC Midnight titles, but its up there with them all the same.

Height: N/A

Low Frequency Extension: This isn’t a movie that commands some deeper sounds, but the natural doors closing, dragging, engines roaring and commotion bumping all hit pretty deeply and effectively.

Surround Sound Presentation: Not a whole lot to run around about here, though there are some solid moments of ambiance and a couple interesting pieces that jump out from the rear channels here and there. As mentioned already, the track is front heavy, but the back and forth up there is pretty accurate and impressive on its own.

Dialogue Reproduction: Vocals are pretty clear and crisp. They sound every bit of being live and part of their environments.

Extras 

Making-Of Featurette (HD, 9:02) – A guy named Jeff hosts what is a humorous parody of “All Access” EPKs. Nothing really big is learned here aside from how to tie a clovehitch knot. There are a couple moments to snicker at, but this ultimately boils down to screwing around and probably funny for those doing it at the time, but useless for the viewer.

Theatrical Trailer (HD, 2:10)

Summary 

The Clovehitch Killer is a terrific and disturbing thriller with surprising turns and decisions made at every corner. Scream Factory and IFC Midnight have brought it to Blu-ray with a rock solid audio and video presentation. I wish there were more in the line of extras as they prove worthless. A commentary would have done wonders. Although, the film itself is strong enough to warrant owning it at the Day 1 pricing, which is pretty solid.

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Writer/Reviewer, lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash, Brandon hosts the Cult Cinema Cavalcade podcast on the Creative Zombie Studios Network (www.cultcinemacavalcade.com) You can also find more essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

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