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Gravy (Blu-ray Review)

GravyThis All Hallows Eve, dare to indulge in a late night of gluttony filled with unhinged humor, carnivorous terror and high camp spills.  From the vivid imagination of renowned actor-writer-producer-director James Roday comes the wickedly-fun horror comedyGRAVY, opening in cinemas (Los Angeles and New York) on October 2, 2015 and arriving on Blu-ray™, DVD, Digital HD and across all major On Demand entertainment platforms October 6, 2015 from Scream Factory.  Directed by James Roday (Psych) and written by Roday and Todd Harthan (Psych, Dominion), GRAVY boasts an all-star ensemble cast of Michael Weston (State of Play, Garden State), Jimmi Simpson (House of Cards, White House Down), Sutton Foster (Younger, Bunheads), Lily Cole (Snow White and the Huntsman), Molly Ephraim (Last Man Standing), Paul Rodriguez (Ali), Gabriel Luna (True Detective, Wicked City), Lothaire Bluteau (Vikings, The Tudor), Ethan Sandler (The Bourne Supremacy, Crossing Jordan) Dule Hill (Ballers, Psych), with Gabourey Sidibe (Empire, Precious) and Sarah Silverman (Wreck-It Ralph).

Film 

It’s Halloween night.  A trio of costumed misfits with very special dietary requirements seizes a Mexican cantina and forces the staff to engage in a late night of gluttony. The only caveat is what’s on the menu…and who will survive ‘til morning!  This deliriously demented horror-comedy is a true feast for genre fans.  Stuffed with an outstanding ensemble cast and perfectly seasoned with laughs and scares, you’ll be sure to ask for seconds on Gravy.

Gravy is a fun enough romp that may overstay its welcome a tiny bit, but still pulls in some goopy horror comedy goodies.  Its directed by James Roday, star of the show Psyche, who brings together a demented and funny little one-setting tale of people trapped inside the the restaurant they work in to be cooked for some sociopathic cannibals.  While this movie holds on its own, I kept thinking of the film Murder Party when watching it.  Those two have much different obligations, but both are horror comedies with one room style settings and people tied up in chairs.  If you like Gravy see Murder Party, and if you liked Murder Party check this one out.

Jimmi Simpson really shines here in the film.  It almost feels like this was a role made to show what he’s got.  If you’ve seen anything he’s been in before, you’ll know this role isn’t too much of a stretch for him, but for once he’s here in the forefront and what almost feels like a bit unchained.  He’s funny, devious, clever, silly and commanding all at the same time.  He’s not physically imposing, but his mental instabilities make Simpson all the more uneasy and someone you don’t want to cross.

Rounding out the cast are some familiar and a little less familiar faces.  Paul Rodriguez is someone I completely forgot about in terms of movies and TV, and here he is.  He’s decent here, and has to play more the straight role than any sort of obnoxious comedy.  I love Sarah Silverman, but let it be known this role is pretty much a cameo.  Michael Weston is pretty much the poor man’s Charlie Day, but he’s found a role here that he excels at.  Even with just the look on his face, you know the guy is 110% looney.  While the character is out of control, Weston’s performance is not as he’s able to go crazy without endangering the film’s well being.  We also get an actress named Sutton Foster here, who I’m not familiar with, but really enjoyed her in this performance and hope there is more to see from her in the future.

Gravy is a fun film that features a mixture of laughs, surprises and gore.  Its a script that’s well thought out plenty of possible pitfalls, and also stays true to its characters.  What’s weird is that this film has a story that felt like it could have made for a (admittedly twisted) crazy episode of It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia.  Maybe it was Jimmi Simpson being in the film here, and not that far off from the type of person he guest stars on that show is, but I could easily see something like this as a one-off.  Who knows?  What I do know is that this is a perfectly enjoyable, fresh little horror comedy.

Video 

Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1

Clarity/Detail:  Scream Factory drops in with a terrific video presentation of Gravy.  Its a modern film shot digitally, so its kinda hard to screw it up.  This thing is also very well lit, so the detail shines through wonderfully.  Wood pains, chipped paint, street surfaces, clothing threads, clown wigs are among the many things you’ll find wonderfully displayed her in this pretty pristine looking image.

Depth:  Really nice display here.  Movements are smooth, background imagery is clear and discernible.  Spacing looks tremendous as people, objects and environments look loose and free.

Black Levels: Blacks are pretty deep.  There are some moments in the film where hair, clothing or surfaces can lose there definition.

Color Reproduction: Red, red blood gushes in very nicely.  Most of the colors are pretty bold and there is a decent little palette on display here.  Many different shades of green look good and range from matte to vibrant in appearance.

Flesh Tones:  Skin tones are natural and stay that way throughout.  Pores, stubble, make-up, sweat, scuffs are among the many details that present a window-like appearance.

Noise/Artifacts:  Clean

Audio 

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

Subtitles: English

Dynamics:  Every aspect here is well rounded and sounds crisp and clean.  The balance is a little off though, as the score is loud in the mix.  It sometimes will step on top of the vocal trap making it a little harder to hear.  Aside from those instances, this is a very booming track that has some good hits and blood gushing.

Low Frequency Extension:  The LFE helps out with the score, as well as enhances crashing, impalements, punches etc.

Surround Sound Presentation:  This is a front heavy track, with the rear speakers hanging out pretty much for ambiance.  The action and pitch/volume placements are followed and accurately displayed throughout.

Dialogue Reproduction:  Clean and crisp.  Set at an adequate volume, but the score is set much louder, so there are times where it can get drowned out a little bit.

Extras 

Gravy comes with a reversible cover featuring alternate poster artwork.

Audio Commentary

  • With James Roday, Sutton Foster and Jimmi Simpson

What is Gravy? (HD, 5:56) – James Roday, Sutton Foster and Jimmi Simpson discuss the title, the inspiration for the film and other things while making sarcastic jokes about cannibalism.

EPK (HD, 6:23) – Interviews (On set and EPK sit downs) with the cast and crew intermixed with raw footage and on-set videos.

Trailer (HD, 2:16)

Summary 

Gravy is an interesting little jaunt into cannibalism horror comedy with a game cast that helps keep this sole setting film moving.  It’ll recall the feeling of some other films and TV shows, but carves its own fun with a great performance by Jimmi Simpson and some awesome gore effects.  The Blu-ray looks and sounds great and features some safe, but decent extras.  If you’re looking to check out some fresher, new horror comedy or something with a fun cast, give Gravy a shot for sure.

Gravy-Blu-ray

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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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