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Dark House (Blu-ray Review)

Dark House - www.whysoblu.comWhen Nick Di Santo learns that his father is not only alive but can possibly reveal the origin of his son’s dark gift, he sets out on a trip that takes him to an abandoned mansion he thought only existed in his childhood imagination. Co-written and directed by Victor Salva (Jeepers Creepers, Jeepers Creepers 2) Dark House may just have something for everyone. Will the film succeed or get locked up in the cellar? Let’s see what happens. 

 

Dark House - www.whysoblu.com

Film 

I don’t really remember the last time I sat down to watch an actual horror, HORROR film. The last few weeks have been set of dry in that regard. Luckily, I was given the task of watching and reviewing a film from a filmmaker that makes entertaining horror-genre films. Victor Salva wrote and directed the excellent Jeepers Creepers films, and as of this writing, I hear momentum is in full swing on a third Jeepers Creepers flick. Anyways, back to Dark HouseDark House originally called Haunted before it was given the moniker of an apparently more marketable title is the story of a young man who has the power to foresee someone’s cause of death simply by physical contact. He wears gloves so as to not accidentally see the chaotic visions of doom that await anyone that he may be talking to.

The young lad in is question 23-year-old Nick Di Santo, who has a mentally ill mother that lives in an institution for the mentally insane. Nick never knew his father but now that he’s hit that magical number of 23 he starts to get visions as if someone, possibly his father, is trying to communicate or set things in motion, in order to make contact with him. After a horrible accident by some unknown circumstances, Nick is bequeathed a beat up old house in some middle of nowhere small town. What’s really weird is that after he sees the house old dilapidated house it dawns on him that he has been obsessed with this old house since he could first hold a crayon. That house is in every drawing and schematic that he has ever drawn as a child and as an adult. It’s obvious that it’s no coincidence.

With his best friend and girlfriend in tow they set out to figure out what it all means and what it has to do with him unconsciously being drawn out to the property. You know it’s not going to be easy, right? No, it’s not. That’s because the old house has a caretaker. The caretaker is, Seth (Tobin Bell), who rocks a badass red-haired curly mullet and wields a giant axe perfect for chopping folks who come nosing around in half. After Seth gives the lowdown on the house and how that house has survived catastrophe after catastrophe and being in relatively functional shape afterwards, convince Nick that it’s a portal to hell. Nick is blindsided by this information and gets his friends and hightails out of there but not before Seth sends his legion of axe wielders after the group.

Dark House is a very layered film, which is surprising, because of it’s low budget (not looking low budget at all!) and for the fact that there are various subplots sprinkled in the beginning middle and end parts, with the main storyline staying on track. It isn’t a perfect mesh but it does satisfy. The axe wielders are creepy as hell and especially so when they’re in full motion after their targets. The sound design works well in that regard, as it’s quite startling at how they stay still one second and activate the next. Tobin Bell as Seth brings some welcome gravitas to the role. He knows a lot about what’s going on and lends the film some mystery and weight. Never mind the mullet he’s rocking. He’s a big guy and very menacing. You certainly don’t want to mess with Seth.

The one thing that I did notice and I am not declaring a direct comparison, only some possible inspiration, is the way the film is setup. It almost reminds me of a multi-story arced episode of Supernatural. I’ve seen similar episodes that tackle the same subject matter but are completely original and different from the film. I liked how Supernatural handled those episodes and I enjoyed how Dark House handled these. I give the film a recommendation, because it is entertaining. You may need to watch the film (I need to watch it again, because once it hits the latter half of the film you’ll need to pay extra attention to what’s going on.

Dark House - www.whysoblu.com

 

Video 

Encoding: AVC MPEG-4

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1

Clarity/Detail: The Blu-ray was very detailed and I could not find any instances of contrast boosting or sharpness tweaking. It wasn’t a reference presentation by any means but it was above average.

Depth: The interior scenes were my favorite. They were exquisitely enhanced with low light, which gave these scenes that rustic library look to them. .

Black Levels: Black levels were spot on and I only observed a couple of instance where crush crept up.

Color Reproduction: Depending on the scene(s), the greenery surrounding the old house looked bright and colorful along with some of the characters’ clothing choices. Once some of the horror action kicked in then the color palette muted. The axe wielders all had a sepia toned aesthetic to them.

Flesh Tones: Flesh tones were nice and healthy and no one outside of that asylum looked sickly or malnourished.

Noise/Artifacts: I only noticed a couple of bits of noise creep up here and there but it went away before you even knew it.

Dark House - www.whysoblu.com

Audio 

Audio Format(s): English DTS-HD Master Audio

Subtitles: English SDH

Dynamics:  Dark House is a low budget film but what it lacked during production more than makes up for it in the mixing room. Aside from a couple of hiccups in the LFE department (see the LFE section) Dark House on Blu-ray has a very aggressive sound design. The film does not hold back on brutality or gore and it will be seen and felt through this lossless audio mix.

Low Frequency Extension: Unfortunately, the subwoofer channel, for all its low bass prowess does not hold up as much as I thought it would. There were several instances where the LFE channel clipped and made the walls of my home theater reverberate. That is not the intended effect you would want to get from a properly mixed LFE channel. Those vibration anomalies aside the LFE channel handles the rest of the low-end very well.

Surround Sound Presentation: Dark House takes place out in the woods, inside asylums, small towns, and in decrepit houses. Everything and anything that goes bump in the night can be heard crawling through the rear channels.

Dialogue Reproduction: Dialogue was clean and crisp especially when demons and their low voices came into play. There were no harsh echoes, clipping, or anything of that sort.

Dark House - www.whysoblu.com

 

Extras

Dark House has only one extra and it’s a short featurette that includes behind the scenes footage and interviews.

  • Behind the Scenes Footage (HD, 20.44) – This featurette contains behind the scenes footage and it includes interviews with writer-director Victor Salva and writer-producer Charles Agron. Agron is very passionate about his film and it shows. I also like he clarifies that if there’s something you thought didn’t make sense in the film then you have to watch it again, because the answers are all there. Challenge accepted.

 

Dark House - www.whysoblu.com

Summary 

Dark House was entertaining on a very basic level. Was it a game changer for the horror genre? No. As I’ve said in the film portion of the review, Dark House felt a bit like an extended episode of Supernatural, without Sam and Dean. It’s fine in terms of what it was trying to convey but I do thing the script needed to be a bit tighter. The Blu-ray, on the other hand, was outstanding in terms of video and audio presentation. The extras could have been beefed up but what are you going to do? I would actually not mind seeing a sequel to Dark House – just bring back everyone involved on this one and let’s see what can be done. Dark House gets a mild recommendation.

 

Order Dark House on Blu-ray!

Dark House - www.whysoblu.com

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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

1 Response to “Dark House (Blu-ray Review)”


  1. Brian White

    Jigsaw! With hair!!!