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The Mean Season (Blu-ray Review)

Mean-SeasonAcademy Award nominee Mariel Hemmingway (Best Supporting Actress, Manhattan) stars as Christine, the school teacher girlfriend of lead Kurt Russell who will become a pawn in a frightening game of cat & mouse in The Mean Season.  Director Phillip Borsos’ nail-biting thriller The Mean Season, from a screenplay by Leon Piedmont based on the novel In The Heat of the Summer by John Katzenbach, co-stars Andy Garcia (Ocean’s Eleven, The Untouchables), Richard Masur (Risky Business, The Thing), Joe Pantoliano (Bound, TV’s The Sopranos) and Richard Bradford (Night Game).  This early 80s thrill a minute is being release by the nice folks over at Olive Films.

Film 

Nearing burn out, the career of Miami reporter Malcolm Anderson is rejuvenated after an article detailing the unsolved murder of a local teen brings him notoriety as well as an unexpected and unwanted fan: a man who claims he’s the murderer.  Striking an uneasy collaboration with the killer known as the “Numbers Murderer”, Malcolm is provided with deadly details in exchange for ongoing stories. The unorthodox collaboration soon takes a surprising twist when the murderer turns his attention to Malcolm’s girlfriend Christine.

I’m a newbie to The Mean Season, which is strange considering I’m a big Kurt Russell fan.  What struck me the most about this movie was how much ahead of its time and in the wrong decade it was.  This is very much the type of film that would have been a solid hit or business as usual in the 1990s.  The adult horror or serial killer drama types where being churned out with regularity following the Best Picture win of The Silence of the Lambs.

Kurt Russell is terrific as always here, playing the reporter stuck in the middle of the serial killer’s game and affection.  He’s able to convey the intensity from things just as a simple phone call, to giving some real emotions when things can turn for the worse.  Also showing up here is a baby faced Andy Garcia who puts in some solid pre-Godfather Part III work in.  Mariel Hemingway isn’t given much to do aside from be the damsel and wife for Malcolm.  Joe Pantoliano shows up here in a small role which is a delight (No, he’s not the killer).

The film’s pace is all right but could have used a little improvement.  Maybe throw another more action oriented chase into the mix somewhere.  Or a scene with uncovering some further details in a dreary mischievous place.  This film doesn’t suffer from that, its fine, but I think it could have been made better on that.

All in all, this is a fun thriller with a solid cast.  And that usually is enough to make these work.  What’s also interesting about this is how much it feels a prototype for that 90s horror-drama with tropes being displayed and cliched story turns happening when at the time they probably weren’t a cliche.  I’m not sure how well this was received upon release, but its a film that’s definitely worth a revisit or a first time if you’ve never seen it before.

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Video 

Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1o80p

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1

Clarity/Detail:  The print on this movie is in good shape, so that lends to a nice transfer.  Its a pretty clean picture featuring plenty of detail.  Textures on surfaces, like blood splatter, carpet, softer feathers and the like show up quite good here.  Clothing fabric patterns and threads show up nicely here too.  Kurt Russell’s glasses feature a neat amount of detail as well.

Depth:  Background images appear as clean as the focus will allow, making a decent look.  Movements look comfortable, natural and cinematic.  There are some great tracking shots that show surprising amount of looseness and free space in their environments.

Black Levels:  Blacks look accurate to the lighting schemes.  Some good shading appears and no signs of crushing or lost detail.  Contrast doesn’t seem to be boosted at all.

Color Reproduction:  Colors looks lifelike and feature a nice palette of various shades and tints, some reds/burgandys will look rich at times.

Flesh Tones:  Skin looks accurate and natural.  Consistent throughout.  Detail is very good as it unveils freckles, stubble and wrinkles.

Noise/Artifacts: Some grain, this is a rather clean print and transfer.

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Audio 

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

Subtitles: N/A

Dynamics: This lossless track sounds rather good here.  Sound effects like pushing down record buttons, phone rustling, papers flipping all sound nice and well rounded.  There is also a loose quality to it, balancing the score, vocals and effects together nicely.

Low Frequency Extension: N/A

Surround Sound Presentation: N/A

Dialogue Reproduction:  Dialogue is clear and clean.  At a couple points the killer’s vocal intensity peaks just a tad.

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Extras 

The Mean Season contains no supplemental features.  Menu offers “Play Movie” and “Chapters”.

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Summary 

The Mean Season is a film that is a little bit ahead of its time.  Maybe ten years or so ahead.  If this had come out in the post-Silence of the Lambs thriller boom of the 1990s, we may think of it a bit than forget about it.  Maybe not so much like a Seven, but more in the vein of Copycat.  This Blu-ray from Olive Films features a good audio and video presentation, but as is par for the course, no extras.  The current price for this is pretty steep considering the lack of extras, but if you’re a fan, this is it.  Others may want to wait for the price to come down before making the go ahead on the purchase.

Mean-Season-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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