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Going Under (Blu-ray Review)

Going-UndervWith 50 Shades Of Grey building a lot of hype and setting itself up to be the next big thing, everyone has to try and cash in on something existing they have already.  This is pretty common with studios.  They’ll even redo poster art to make it look more modern and as knock off-y as it can to what they’re trying to be like.  We’ve seen it with Near Dark and Twilight (Two movies not really remotely the same aside from “Hey, look! Vampires”).  Secretary has already rebranded itself to be “the original” 50 Shades Of Grey movie.  Here, we have the indie film Going Under from 2004 that deals with a BDSM relationship.  I’m honestly surprised we didn’t see a lot of 90s Cinemax softcore movies get dusted off and sold as something bigger and more purposeful than they actually were.

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Film 

Peter and his dominatrix, Suzanne, develop a personal relationship during their sadomasochistic sessions and, when Suzanne quits her job, they attempt to maintain that relationship outside her workplace, without the rules and boundaries that existed in the S&M dungeon.

Well, here’s a case of not judging a book by its cover.  I thought I was in for some sort of softcore movie trying to pose as something more, or that is, the studio trying to sell me it as something more.  No, Going Under isn’t sleezy trashy BDSM fun.  Its actually a thoughtful and pretty deep indie drama character study.  It features two wonderful performances that show more than just chemistry for each other in the film.

How was all the bondage stuff in the movie, though, Brandon?  Well, that was the least interesting part about it, but since you asked, I guess we’ll go there.  Its actually pretty tame.  Nothing is really too intense.  The intensity comes from the emotion and flashbacks associated with the characters relating to things going on.  There’s nudity, and much more of the male parts (Full frontal) than the women (Some nipples here and there, but never flaunted).  The bondage isn’t all too rough and has a lot of close-ups and off-screen action (reactions and the like).  But, like I said, if you’ve seen the movie, its the least interesting part.

Our lead Roger Rees had me going “How in the heck do I know this guy?” throughout the entire film.  When I finally looked him up, I was like “OOOOhhhhh Yeah”.  What I was drawing from was the fact he was in The Prestige.  He played the guy who looked like an older Hugh Jackman, but who really had nothing to do with looking like Hugh Jackman.  He was also the Sheriff Of Nottingham in Robin Hood: Men In Tights!

I went into Going Under as “Eh, well, its a review!” and came out surprised that this was actually a decent movie.  Its led by strong performances by its leads and also a pretty well done script.  There’s much more too this movie than the bondage everyone will be picking up their ticket for.  If that’s what you want, its there, but I think you’re going to enjoy that you’re getting treated to a little bit extra and also written to like you’re an intelligent human being too.  This was definitely a book that I shouldn’t have judged by its (rebranded) cover.

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Video 

Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1

Clarity/Detail:  For as low budget and low lit as this film is, it turns out looking rather nice.  But its an image that I imagine could have been better.  Details at times can be very strong, like the fabric on a beach towel or the surfaces of a well lit kitchen.  The image has a decent sharpness to it, but can wind up being soft at times.

Depth:  Average.  Doesn’t feel as loose in its environment a lot of times.  In “the room” you do get some good depth.

Black Levels: Blacks are dark and a bit of a problem in some scenes.  Detail is lost upon them and in darker scenes some distortions do happen.

Color Reproduction:  Colors can look pretty nice and be plenty bold when well lit.  There’s a rich red filter on a very many scenes too that minimally bleeds through.

Flesh Tones:  Skin tones are consistent and do feature a good amount of detail.  Skin is important in this right?  Well, wrinkles, freckles, pores and the like come through nicely.  There are some instances where things do look a bit too smooth that maybe some post tampering was done to it.

Noise/Artifacts:  There is some noise present in the low lit scenes I mentioned in the blacks above.  A healthy layer of grain is present.

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Audio 

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

Subtitles: English SDH

Dynamics:  The 5.1 track is a bit much for this movie.  Its a nice clean and solid track, but there’s nothing to it that really “wows” or demands the extra channels of attention.  Luckily, there is a 2.0 track here that is the real winner here.  Audio is loose and has a nice balance of vocals, sound effects and musical scoring.

Low Frequency Extension:  Not a whole lot of work for the subwoofer aside from some doors closing.  Although in one scene there’s a little boost from some whipping going on.

Surround Sound Presentation: As I mentioned above, not much for the rear channels here to do.  Mainly ambiance and lower volumed scoring.  The front speakers depict the action accurately.

Dialogue Reproduction:  Crisp and clear.  More center-focused.

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Extras 

The reverse side of the cover features a photo.

Audio Commentary

  • With Co-Writer/Director Eric Werthman and Star Roger Rees

Pushing The Boundaries: Interviews With Stars Roger Rees and Geno Lechner (SD, 16:37) – The actors talk about their roles that are deeply intimate.  They share their experiences on the film as well as other films they’ve appeared in (Like Schindler’s List).

NYC Black & Blue Ball (SD, 5:55) – A quick little piece on New York’s fetish event.

Theatrical Trailer (SD, 3:14)

Teaser Trailer (SD, 1:27)

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Summary 

Going Under proved to be a much better film than I expected.  It wasn’t trash at all and was actually pretty solid.  This Blu-ray features a slightly above average video presentation with some really good audio.  The extras look to have been ported over from a previous DVD edition of the film.  I don’t know if 50 Shades Of Grey fans would be into this, as it doesn’t sound like the type of thing they’re going to that for.  But, for those already fans of this film, thank 50 Shades because you got this on Blu-ray most likely because of it.  And I’d say this does make the case to upgrade from you DVD edition.

Going-Under-Blu-ray

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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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