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Blu-ray Review: 'Dead Shadows'

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The Film:

“Dead Shadows” is the kind of film that would fit in perfectly as a Syfy original movie of the week. Working under the half-baked premise of an alien invasion, the film follows Chris (Fabian Wolfrom), a young computer troubleshooter, as he deals with the odd happenings following the passing of a meteor very close to the Earth. This event has caused everyone to start acting very strange, but not only that, they also turn into strange creatures that attack for no apparent reason. With all the chaos that’s occurring, Chris makes it his mission to protect a neighbor, Claire (Blandine Marmigère), that he only met hours before the whole thing started.

That’s really the best kind of synopsis one can hope to get for a film like this. It would be fair to say that the film really doesn’t even have a plot, but more so an idea that wasn’t thought through all the way. It appears that writer Vincent Jule wanted to do some kind of story involving an alien invasion, but didn’t want to take the time to develop a plot or fleshed-out characters, resulting in a film that merely ends up being a chaotic mess on the screen. To make matters worse, it takes over half of its very brief 75-minute runtime to even get around to the invasion plot, filling up the first half with pointless scenes of Chris at work, in town, and at a party. The second half becomes a cruel joke that tries to trick you into thinking that the film will finally get started, but all it really becomes is a stage for visual effects done by the lowest bidder. “Dead Shadows” ends up feeling like a film unfinished in just about every area possible, which merely leaves the audience wondering how in the world it got released in the first place.

Video/Audio:

“Dead Shadows” come to Blu-ray in a 2.35:1 transfer of questionable quality. For the first half, it’s not a particularly bad picture. You can see pretty much everything that’s going on, though the image is not all that sharp. The second half of the film is where the shoddy production values really catch up with it, making it difficult to make out what’s happening on the screen, so it fits with the general theme of this release in that there was a lot of room for improvement. The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio fares much better than the video, giving you every little sound loud and clear, so at least there was a little decent work done on it.

Special Features:

Making of the Special Effects: A mislabeled featurette that isn’t really a “Making of,” but rather one that just shows you what effects were edited in in post-production. Easily skipable.

Deleted Scenes: Less than a minute of scenes that aren’t really “deleted,” but rather slightly alternate. Another one that’s easily skipable.

Interview with Producer/Director David Cholewa: An intriguing in-depth interview with the director in which he discusses how the film came about, how he got into filmmaking, and who his influences were. Worth watching if you’re looking to learn a little background info.

Conclusion:

“Dead Shadows” comes off as nothing but a rushed project that features a premise, but not a story. In fact, it’s rather hard to think of even one redeeming quality that the film has, which is made especially difficult due to the unfinished nature of the product. Would it have made for a good film had the filmmakers bothered to follow through on any of its elements? With the plethora of alien invasion flicks already out there, it’s difficult to tell. Perhaps they felt that all they needed to do was to deliver something unique, but unfortunately, as they’ll no doubt learn from this painful lesson, unique isn’t always a good thing, especially when it leaves the film an incomplete mess.

Score: 1.5/5

Available on Blu-ray and DVD starting tomorrow.

Recent Blu-ray/DVD releases: Sorcerer, Copperhead, The Wolf of Wall Street, The Best of Bogart Collection, Beneath, American Hustle, Kill Your Darlings, The Slumber Party Massacre, Inside Llewyn Davis, In Fear, Oldboy (2013), Cold Comes the Night, Gravity

Now playing in theaters: Draft Day, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Nymphomaniac: Volume Two, Nymphomaniac: Volume One, Bad Words

Also be sure to check out my lists of the Best and Worst Films of 2013.

Follow me on Twitter @BeckFilmCritic.

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