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Dark Haul (Blu-ray Review)

Dark-HaulThe SyFy Channel original film, Dark Haul is coming to Blu-ray from Scream Factory.  It stars Tom Sizemore, who battles against a creature while trying to transport it and its human sister to a secure location.  I’m not sure if they have before, but this might be the first time that SyFy and Scream Factory have crossed paths for a Blu-ray release before.  Normally, or in the past, Scream Factory has done work with Chiller TV and IFC Midnight (With more films from the latter coming down the pipeline according to recent reports).  I had never heard of this one before, but being a SyFy Channel movie, I already know where to set my expectations and how to appropriately view something of its ilk.

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Film 

The meaning of cryptic prophesy splits apart a team of secretive guardians as they transport by 18-wheeler truck, a deadly creature and it’s half-human sister from their now ineffective holding place to a more secure location. The sister’s hidden agenda undermines the mission releasing the beast and they end up battling for the fate of the world when the true meaning of the prophesy is discovered in this mysterious and thrilling, action-packed creature feature.

Dark Haul is on the low grade side of trashy SyFy originals that has some cool things to it, but doesn’t amount to much in terms of high reward viewing.  Not that you were expecting that.  This one seems to be low on the funds as it has a monster, but does everything it can to not have show it til the very end where there is no choice.  It appears as if they had a monster first and then said, “Now give me the cheapest possible way to make a movie out of this”.

The effects work on said monster is a rather odd one.  At a guess, it looks like they did have some sort of “guy in a suit” practical work going on, but I can’t confirm.  When you get a good clear shot of the beast, it does look like some really obvious CGI because the lighting on it is too clean and doesn’t match up with the rest of the frame.  There was a cartoon-like effect to the animation of the monster that I did sort of enjoy.

Another element in these SyFy originals is to get some semblance of celebrity in there to sell the movie.  Usually some D-lister or has-been.  Here we have Tom Sizemore.  Sizemore isn’t much to write home about, as he’s clearly there to work and grab a paycheck.  I did enjoy the film’s lead, Evalena Marie, and found her talents enjoyable enough to get to the end of this thing.

While I haven’t been very complimentary with either my star (woof) rating or words, this is what it is; a SyFy original film.  This is best viewed on lazy Saturday or Sunday afternoon flipping through channels and catching a marathon of these movies.  There are cheap thrills and unintentional silliness to be had from watching this kind of movie.  And that’s likely where you would be find the film as well.

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Video 

Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1

Clarity/Detail:  This is a nice looking, sharp and detailed digital film.  The clarity only hurts this thing when it comes to effects.  Everything CGI in the film, ESPECIALLY the monster, look pretty damn obvious and from another place completely when sharing the screen with something actually real and living.

Depth:  Solid work.  Its a modern, completely digital pictures, so its depth is handled pretty well by default.

Black Levels: Blacks are consistent, but feel a bit more on the bright side of things.  It looks more like the ideal black levels for a video game, where its that sort of whiter/grayer look.  No real detail is hidden and no crushing witnessed.

Color Reproduction:  There isn’t much color to the film.  Its a bit cold as…duh its winter time.  But everything here takes a more natural look with plenty tints and the like of different colors.  If there is one standout its definitely red as the monster’s presence bursts through on color alone.

Flesh Tones:  Consistent and natural.  Facial features like stubble, wrinkles and blemishes all show right on through cleanly.

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 audio on here is an above average track that does the trick.  Its loud and loose featuring a nice balance of sound, voice and effects.  There are some impressive gun shot battles and the creature makes a loud ruckus that is quite satisfactory.

Low Frequency Extension:  Destruction, gunfire, car crashes and tail whipping are the sort of things you’re going to find rumbling in the subwoofer.

Surround Sound Presentation:  Mainly ambiance in the rear speakers.  I feel like I did hear some bits of action going on at times too.  The front speakers provide an accurate depiction both in place and volume of the events going on onscreen.

Dialogue Reproduction:  Clear, clean and crisp.

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Extras 

The reverse side of the cover insert features additional artwork.

Trailer (HD, 1:45)

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Summary 

Dark Haul is what it is; that cheapie SyFy Channel Saturday afternoon trash movie you just for some reason watch til the end.  This Blu-ray features a nice transfer, both appealing in the audio and video categories.  Bonus is definitely not this one’s strong suit, and that’s sort of surprising as I’m sure there was some sort of promotional thing going on the network to lead up to the film’s airing.  Anyway, if you’re going to see it, I recommend it be on the SyFy Channel, with commercials and everything else.  I’m not sure why one would really want to own, but if you do its got a nice presentation.

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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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