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  Directed by
  Starring
  Specs
  • Widescreen 1.85:1
  • 16:9 Enhanced
  Languages
  • English: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
  Subtitles
    English - Hearing Impaired
  Extras

    The Watcher

    Universal/Universal . R4 . COLOR . 93 mins . MA15+ . PAL

      Feature
    Contract

    Throw in a handful of The Bone Collector, a splash of Kiss The Girls and a pinch of Scream and you will get the 2000 thriller The Watcher. Directed by Joe Charbanic and starring James Spader, Marisa Tomei and Keanu Reeves (as the bad guy), this film really has the power to unleash a few fears.

    While watching the film different threads from different films can be seen, such as a perfect forensic crime scene from The Bone Collector, preying on young, beautiful girls without leaving a trace of bodily fluid from Kiss The Girls and the good old stalker from Scream. This isn’t a bad thing, in fact the complete opposite. By dragging in different elements, it makes the film just that little bit more complex.

    One really good aspect for this film is the fact that they name the killer right from the word go. It is turned from a who-dunnit, to a how can I catch this bugger. By doing this, the filmmakers are able to delve into the mind and psyche of Reeves' character as the audience knows him right from the start, making it more interesting, seeing into the mind of a killer. Kind of like what the film representation of American Psycho should have been.

    Basically the story centres around FBI agent Joel Campbell (James Spader) who has recently moved to Chicago after years of chasing psychotic killers in Los Angeles. But now one of his killers has resurfaced in Chicago, following Campbell around. Campbell receives a Fed Ex package from the killer, which contains a photo of a girl who was recently murdered by him. He opened the mail three days late. If he had opened it on time, the photo would have stood as a warning. More photos keep coming in, and more girls keep being targeted. It is now a nasty game of cat and mouse in a race against time for Campbell to hunt down this killer, once and for all.

      Video
    Contract

    This film is presented in its original theatrical aspect of 1.85:1, and is 16x9 enhanced. Note that there is an error on the packaging. The packaging says full frame, when in fact the film is widescreen.

    For this genre of film, dark black alleys and deep shadows add to the story and mood of the film. Thankfully, the shadows are a solid black, and the shadows are well defined and beautifully highlighted.

    The colours that are here are realistic and vibrant, however the red blood is a bit too bright, but this is a fault from the filmmaking, not the transfer. Skin tones are superb, and the detailed colours are bright, vivacious and crisp.

    There are a few small cases of aliasing, notably at 19:33, and again at 50:13. These are very small, and generally not disturbing, but they are still present.

    Likewise, there is one case of an MPEG artefact, occurring at 27:03. This is when Spader closes the door and the frames fade to black. Just before reaching solid black, a large clunky reddish black can be seen, along with other artefacts.

    There are no film artefacts, apart from the odd one or two towards the end of the film. There is some film grain during some of the dark scenes, but only some camera angles only. Also in some of these scenes, some very slight low level noise can be seen, but only when you pause and look for it.

    There is one subtitle language, and that is English.

      Audio
    Contract

    There is one audio track on this disc, a Dolby Digital 5.1 English track. It is is simply superb, and is excellent for this genre of film.

    Dialogue is easily understood for the entire duration of the film, and the levels are suitable for the surrounding effects.

    The dialogue comes primarily from the centre channel, with the front left and right and rear surrounds being used for score, and ambience.

    Each surround channel gets its own heavy workout, carrying effects such as cars, trains and thunder. This disc has such a brilliant soundstage, with a real enveloping quality. The surrounds are kept busy for the majority of the film, with something always going on behind you.

    During the opening sequence, the lower end of the soundtrack kicks in, but for the remainder of the film, the subwoofer lays fairly dormant.

    The score is superb, and fits the mood and tone of the film. It is by Marco Beltrami, best known for his work in The Scream trilogy. He uses strings to create tension, and low brass to create a thrilling angry mood. Notably during the opening credits, the idea for the Scream theme can be heard with the slow strings overlaid with a haunting female vocal.

    The actual soundtrack, not score, for the film is mainly filled with alternative female pop from the early 1990’s featuring works such as Six Underground by the Sneaker Pimps and Roads by Portishead from the film Tank Girl.

      Extras
    Contract

    Special features? No, there’s nothing special here. There is a main menu, and a set up menu and that is it. No trailers, notes, documentaries, nothing. Oh well...

      Overall  
    Contract

    The lack of features is made up for by the quality of the film. The transfer, on a whole, is very good. There is so much happening in this film that works, and the transfer works so well for this genre and this film. Definitely worth a hire, and with an addition of features, it would be a must-have disc.


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      And I quote...
    "Watching The Watcher definitely won’t disappoint. One of the better thrillers that you too could be watching."
    - Martin Friedel
      Review Equipment
    • DVD Player:
          Nowa DS-8318
    • TV:
          TEAC 68cm CTV
    • Speakers:
          Teac PLS-60 Home Theatre System
    • Centre Speaker:
          Teac PLS-60 Home Theatre System
    • Surrounds:
          Teac PLS-60 Home Theatre System
    • Audio Cables:
          Standard RCA
    • Video Cables:
          standard s-video
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