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The Binding (Blu-ray Review)

BindingAn unsettling spiritual shocker, The Binding shows the darker side of devotion when a religious family’s patriarch begins receiving visions of bloodshed. Written and directed by Gus Krieger, produced by Michael Glassman and Scott Hyman, The Binding presents divine psychological horror through a modern reimagining of the Biblical tale of Abraham, who was commanded by God to bind and kill his infant son. A young minister’s wife (Arrow’s Amy Gumenick) attempts to reconcile her foreboding maternal instincts with her deeply religious husband (Josh Heisler) and his increasingly disturbing intentions. Is he receiving visions from God or unraveling within his own delusions of grandeur? How far will a family’s faith extend when their blind devotion means their violent destruction? Praised for its intelligent design, The Binding became a critical favorite through its celebrated performances and cerebral nuance.

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Film 

Once upon a time, God Almighty appeared before one of the chosen, and commanded that he slay his own flesh and blood. Perhaps that time has come again…

Sarah Iman is a young mother and faithful ministers wife. Her religious devotion and idyllic home life, however, are put to the ultimate test when she is forced to uncover the truth behind her husbands horrific visions. As tensions rise and secrets come to light, Sarah soon finds herself spiraling toward a terrifying choice between faith and blood.

I really wanted to like this movie more than I did.  It gets some moments very very right and shows signs of some real talent here and there.  However, its all in little moments and the inbetweens will either bore or continue down a little path of disinterest.  No, its not that I don’t love slow burn horror (I LOVE slow burn horror as a matter of fact!), its just something that has to be delicately done and proves risky to do.  And with that, I do respect when filmmakers do it, like right here with The Binding.

There are some really solid performances in this film.  Amy Gumenick is terrific as the protagonist.  She gets run through the ringer.  Gumenick has a lot of deep and rangy emotions required of her in this role and pretty much nails it.  While I mentioned some disinterest, its Gumenick’s performance that kept me present throughout.  Also noteworthy is Leon Russom in a strong, fun and engaging supporting turn.

The Binding is a film that I can respect the sort of patient, slow burn insanity and scares it provides, but something of that needs a master hand delivering and that’s what it kind of lacks.  There are some well done spooky moments and suspense abound, but it comes and goes.  If you’re into the sort of religious, pregnancy, young parent scare type films, you may want to give it a rental.  But, really, as always in this situation it just adds to the respect one has for classics like Rosemary’s Baby or The Omen, which this strives to be in the same league with.

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Video 

Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1

Clarity/Detail:  The Binding features a very solid, good looking transfer.  The film features a kind of whited out look to it.  Details are good, as you can make out patterns and texture of clothing and surfaces.  The image works and gets you what you’d expect from a modern movie, but looking at it you can’t help but think maybe there was more left on the table in terms of impressing with the image.

Depth:  Dimensional work is decent.  There is are smooth movements and the relation between foreground character and background features some good separation and clarity.

Black Levels:  Blacks are well done and a highlight of the transfer.  Detail is maintained and darkened scenes feature beautiful use of shadow and definition. 

Color Reproduction:  Colors are natural and provide a stronger feel of normal looking colors.  Whites look very good.

Flesh Tones:  Skin tones are natural and consistent.  Facial details are impressive, showcasing freckles, make-up lines, wrinkles, scars and more.  Many scenes feature a very white-out look, bleaching out some details at times and then again enhancing some.

Noise/Artifacts: Clean

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Audio 

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

Subtitles: English

Dynamics:  The Binding features a solid 5.1 mix that highlights a balances and intricate sounding presentation through effects, vocals and score.  Vocals are bit lower in this mix in order to enhance and bring full effect to the jump scares.

Low Frequency Extension:  Mostly score beats are enhanced by the sub.  Some effect work and common sounds get a boost, but things necessitating an extra bump aren’t what the film as to offer.

Surround Sound Presentation:  More of a front heavy presentation.  Ambiance and score is what you get from the rear speakers while the front accurately display the movements, action and placement of characters on the screen.

Dialogue Reproduction:  Dialogue is clean and clear.

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Extras 

Audio Commentary

  • With Writer/Director Gus Krieger

Cast Interviews (HD, 17:20) – Cast members look back upon the film through a series of questions being asked.  They talk about how they knew the director, along with the genesis of the project as well as their preparation and relationship to the roles in the film.

Deleted Scenes (HD, 30:43) – Each scene features an audio introduction about the scene and why it was cut.

Teaser Trailer (HD, 1:44)

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Summary 

The Binding is an entry in the only so-often pregnancy/new to parenthood horror-drama subgenre.  It does merely ok, while hitting some really good beats of suspense and insanity from time to time.  Scream Factory delivers a Blu-ray that has a solid presentation in both its audio and video.  This disc isn’t bare as it has some safe, but decent extras.  Definitely check this one out before purchase, though.

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Brandon is the host, producer, writer and editor of The Brandon Peters Show (thebrandonpetersshow.com) on the Creative Zombie Studios Network. At Why So Blu he is a Writer/Reviewer. Brandon is a 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. You can also find older essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

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