Dreamworks/20th Century Fox .
R4 . COLOR . 124 mins .
M15+ . PAL
In this age of cheap teen thrillers and the horror/comedy, it's rare to see something trying to take itself seriously and provide some real chills. Casting an adult pair in favor of the more popular teenage heart-throbs made this movie more attractive to the wider audience and it delivers in spades.
One eerie image.
The Spencers, Norman (Harrison Ford) and Claire (Michelle Pfeiffer), are just dropping off their daughter for a life in college. Retruning home, Claire finds that she's feeling even more lonely as Norman spends most of his time in his lab at the University doing research. With all this free time, Claire starts to notice things that she normally wouldn't like the ever entertaining neighbours and the multitude of slightly unexplainable events in her home.
When she tells her husband of the events and he dismisses them, she takes it upon herself to find out who this spirit is and what it wants. From here, things start to pick up as we get to learn more and more about what has happened in that house leading up to an ending that this reviewer wasn't expecting. I guess that's the best way to approach these movies, go in with no expectations and be much more satisfied.
Whilst the movie is very enjoyable, it was hard not to notice the Hitchcock homeages here that are scattered throughout the entire movie. Whether or not director Zemeckis intended for it to be so blatantly obvious I don't know but they are there and to some extent help to keep your interest piqued and the frights consistently executed to that similar tone. Throughout the whole movie you have this uneasy feeling of where the next thrill is coming from which certainly raises the stakes and made the movie alot more enjoyable.
The Sixth Sense in a bathtub
The video quality here is exceptional and probably one of the better, if not best, transfers this reviewer has seen from 20th Century Fox. The anamorphic transfer really brings the film to life with excellent detail in all areas of the image, both foregrounds and backgrounds.
Certain scenes call for certain look and feel as the shots within the bathroom have a cool blue feel to get those chills going, exterior day shots are warm and inviting and evening shots have a tweaked contrast that bring out a ghostly effect in Michelles tormented character. Blacks are rendered perfectly with shadow detail being spot on.
The only quibble I have about the image is there is some noticeable edge-enhancement at times but only if you look closely. The only reason this reviewer noticed it was that it was mentioned in other region 1 reviews and I went out intentionally looking for them. To that I say disregard this paragraph as it's a great looking picture.
Mind if I join you?
Audio wise we're given an excellent reproduction of a somewhat sedate soundtrack. The fron soundstage is the main focus for this movie with little use of the surrounds, even when you'd normally assume they'd come to life. Most of the full channel use is taken care of by the musical score to emphasise the shock factor and it works as it surprises you every time.
Dialogue is fine throughout and bass response is pretty deep, even through the opening 20th Century Fox fanfare to select 'moments' throughout the movie. Not demo material but perfectly adequate for this movie.
What Lies Within? Absolutely nothing bar a bare bones menu that has more 20th Century Fox logo present than anything representing the actual movie. I guess the rental only versions are getting simpler in that department and becoming nothing more than a front end for the video and audio.
As with all good horror/thriller movies, the simpler the better and this one seems to fit that bill pretty well. The frights come thick and fast, adding to the appeal of the movie and certainly making you wary of every room in your house that you walk past as you try to get to your bedroom for some sleep. If a film can do that to you then I guess it's succeeded.