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SX_Tape (Blu-ray Review)

SxTapeWhat begins as harmless sex games between a free-spirited artist (Caitlyn Folley) and her videographer boyfriend (Ian Duncan) turns much darker as the pair breaks into a boarded-up former hospital, looking for a space for a new gallery show. As they investigate the building’s ominous rooms and passageways, a seductive prank , meaning to arouse and terrify, goes terribly wrong – and what is discovered will destroy them both.

 

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Film 

Jill (Caitlyn Folley) and Ian (Ian Duncan) are madly involved and they document their shenanigans with Ian’s handy hand-held camcorder. Jill is a fine artist and Ian is a filmmaker and they are constantly throwing up ideas about how to collaborate on art projects that will propel their careers in their respective fields. The young couple lives and plays in Los Angeles and while not brains storming art projects they are annoyingly getting into trouble by over extending their public displays of affection out in public. Let’s just say that they get beyond frisky in the great urban outdoors of Los Angeles. Oh, and Ian films it.

On one uneventful day Jill and Ian get a flat tire right outside a dilapidated mental asylum and call for help. Once help arrives Jill backtracks and decides to seek inspiration for her work via this creepy looking hospital. Jill and Ian will have to navigate through strange and dark corridors, dodge the police, and try not to have sex with their friends’ significant others. Let’s just say that some of these scenarios will be ignored. SX_Tape has a good head on its shoulders in terms of production and in terms of who is directing it but the Jill and Ian are so damn unlikable that I couldn’t wait until they started getting their butts handed to them by the evil forces in the hospital.

Jill and Ian are so vapid and useless that there was no way I could get onboard and like them as out helpless protagonists. From the first time we see them they’re a big pain in the ass. What was even more shocking about SX_Tape was that Bernard Rose who adapted Clive Barker’s Candyman in the early 90’s and came back with the near-masterpiece Immortal Beloved that starred Gary Oldman as Beethoven directed it. I don’t know how we got from there to here. I understand that Rose does not kneel to the powers of the major studios, thereby doing his own thing, but SX_Tape is a severe misfire in the already cluttered world of found footage features.

I give SX_Tape props in terms of production – it looks good and they’ve taken advantage of local L.A. shops and streets along with the legendary Linda Vista Community Hospital. On a technical level I have no complaints with SX_Tape. My beef is with our main characters and the story that falls apart halfway through until the very end. As far as I can make out there are evil spirits lurking in the hospital that may or may not take possession of certain folks. Fine. I wish the film did a better job in the motive. It does try to give a slight backstory to it by introducing a couple of other characters but its so jarring that I just said to myself: where did that come from? Don’t even get me started on the ending. I have no idea what that was and was surprised to see how far they got with it considering that the film is already unrated.

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Video

Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1

Clarity/Detail: Surprisingly, for a found footage film the video looks really good. Where do the kids find these awesome cameras? If I had one I could probably shoot my own film, too! Kidding aside, clarity and detail is spot-on and at times it won’t even look like you’re watching a found footage flick at all.

Depth: Sure, the Blu-ray has some pop, which is great all things considered. You need nice depth levels if you are to be sucked into the evil world depicted in SX_Tape.

Black Levels: Black levels are great and I only noticed a few instances of pesky crush.

Color Reproduction: Color levels are a tad washed out but I think that’s what they were going for.

Flesh Tones: Flesh tones appear nice and natural and only degrade once our demon friends come out and play.

Noise/Artifacts: Noise and artifacts are not inherent to the source but seem to have been digitally created to give the film that more “authentic” look.

 

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Audio

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

Subtitles: N/A

Dynamics: It’s amazing that for being a found footage film you can get a really bombastic soundtrack too it. I know if you were to record something on the fly and play it back it most certainly sound like ass. Well, SX_Tape maybe the former but definitely not the latter. This is a near-reference lossless track that had its fair share of scares spread throughout that caught me off guard a couple of times.

Low Frequency Extension: There is some LFE bass but it’s speared out far and in between. At first I thought the film would just play out with a 5.0 soundtrack until it finally kicked in.

Surround Sound Presentation: The Linda Vista Community Hospital is a creepy location as it is and this lossless track only enhances that factor. The rear channels have all sorts of crap flying through the channels that will most certainly put you on edge.

Dialogue Reproduction: What little dialogue there is and there’s plenty sounds great coming through the center channel. It’s stupid but you can clearly hear the characters talk, so there won’t be any complaints about not being able to hear anything.

 

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Extras 

SX_Tape has a short making-of segment and two trailers. It won’t set the world on fire but they are there for your viewing pleasure.

  • Making Of (HD 15:00) – This is a decent enough featurette on what went into the making of SX_Tape. Interviews with the cast and crew are provided and everyone seemed to have had a good enough time working on the film.
  • Trailer  (HD) – Here’s the standard theatrical trailer.
  • UNRATED Trailer (HD) – Here’s the UNRATED version of the trailer.

 

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Summary 

Considering the talent behind the camera SX_Tape could have been something special but ultimately falls flat and unworthy. The video and audio specs on this Blu-ray are above average but textures are paltry. If you’re a horror fiend then you’ll probably want to check it out but if you’re just a casual fan of horror and this found-footage sub genre then you will be sorely disappointed. Skip it.

 

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Gerard Iribe is a writer/reviewer for Why So Blu?. He has also reviewed for other sites like DVD Talk, Project-Blu, and CHUD, but Why So Blu? is where the heart is. You can follow his incoherency on Twitter: @giribe

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