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  Directed by
  Starring
  Specs
  • Widescreen 1.85:1
  • 16:9 Enhanced
  Languages
  • English: Dolby Digital 5.0 Surround
  Subtitles
  • None
  Extras
  • Theatrical trailer

Absence Of The Good

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment/Sony Pictures Home Entertainment . R4 . COLOR . 95 mins . M15+ . PAL

  Feature
Contract

Caleb Barnes (Stephen Baldwin, a fully paid up card carrying member of Baldwin Inc.) is a detective on the trail of your average garden variety serial killer. As if this isn't hard enough on him, he also just happens to be trying to cope with the loss of his typical garden variety young son and the problems of a typical garden variety wife who is rapidly falling apart through grief.

Well, where do I begin with my contempt for this film. I guess first is the made for television feel, in regards to story, acting and photography. It contains typical movie of the week cliches, such as my pet peeve, the huge leaps of detective deduction taking place at the required intervals to keep the plot moving along. You know the kind, the ones that usually go something like:
"Damn, if we don’t get a break real soon, the killer's gonna go free."
"Hey Sarge! We just picked up a trash throwing jaywalking prostitute who just happens to have had an affair with the victim in your murder case. She says she saw everything happen on that fateful night. Best of all, she had a video camera secretly filming their little get togethers to use in an extortion bid against his wife, and she accidentally filmed the whole murder. I got the tape right here! It's really kinky! What an amazing co-incidence, huh?"
"Well why the hell didn't we know about her sooner??!!"
"She says she panicked, Sarge, and went to stay with a friend. She just got back in town."
"This is great news. But don't get too excited just yet. First, we've gotta make this new evidence stick, then the DA can lock this sicko away for good."

So anyway, most characters are also stereotypical cliches, from the dependable partner, the police chief that likes to yell, the unstable wife, the weird looking bad guy etc, etc.

Top that off with the general incompetence in the directing and production, and you have a pretty average film that should be playing at midday before a daytime soapy.

You can just imagine the creative processes at work on this film:
Director: "Okay, this is where I want the flashback."
Producer: "But you promised a chase through the forest!"
Director: "Yeah, that's right after the next shot of sunlight pouring into a dusty room."
Producer: "What about the battered wife with the black eye that says "...I fell over."
Director: "Where are the sleeping pills? I need a close-up shot of some sleeping pills. And who's got the piano music for the love scene? Two or three seconds will do."
Producer: "Who wants to do a meaningful stare out of a window? Anyone?"

When the mandatory film union enforced twist comes, you could care less. More like "Absence of the Interest".

  Video
Contract

Pretty standard as far as video goes. Some grain is evident throughout the film. Colours appear slightly washed out and skin tones too pale at times. Shadows and darker areas often lack detail and suffer from limited dynamic range. Image is always clear and clean though, but the image never really rises above the made for television look. Then again, television rarely looks as good as the image on a dvd, what with the crappy reception, snow, ghosting etc, so I guess the picture on this particular dvd is pretty good after all, just not as good as some. I suppose this just goes to show how spoilt you can become by watching high quality dvd's as anything not up to Gladiator transfer standards often brings out the desire to criticise what are really only minor failings compared to crappy television or VHS quality.

  Audio
Contract

This just goes to show that even the magical abilities of Dolby Digital can't save a mediocre movie. Luckily, this flat flavourless movie does have the benefit of a fairly lively DD5.0 soundtrack. Although the dialogue is occasionally slightly flat, the effects and surrounds are used to good effect in outdoor scenes.

Director: "I want wind chimes wherever possible!"
Sound Engineer: "How about some birds and a horse in the back speakers?"
Director: "That's good. Make the farm sound windier too."
Sound Engineer: "I've got a cool thunder effect I just bought...how about that?"

You get the idea...

  Extras
Contract

The original trailer is the only extra on this disc. I'd say that this is a most useful inclusion as an extra, because you can ask the local dvd rental shop in your area to play this trailer for you and you'll realise it looks so dull that you won't waste 6 bucks for the rental and pickup a copy of Grosse Point Blank instead.

  Overall  
Contract

I quote from the cover of the DVD,
"A riveting serial killer thriller from the director of "Lock-Up".
There are far too many letter L's in that sentence for me. Enough said.


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      And I quote...
    ""
    - Vince Carrozza
      Review Equipment
    • DVD Player:
          Sony DVP-525
    • TV:
          Sony 68cm
    • Receiver:
          Sony STR-DB930
    • Speakers:
          Wharfedale s500
    • Centre Speaker:
          Polk Audio CS245
    • Surrounds:
          Wharfedale s500
    • Subwoofer:
          DB Dynamics TITAN
    • Audio Cables:
          Standard Optical
    • Video Cables:
          standard s-video
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