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  Specs
  • Widescreen 1.78:1
  • Dual Layer (RSDL 1.18:35)
  Languages
  • English: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
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  Extras
  • Cast/crew biographies
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Ripper - Letter From Hell
Magna/Magna . R4 . COLOR . 120 mins . MA15+ . PAL

  Feature
Contract

Indeed, the late '90's style of teenage thriller/horror films are now more common than a really common thing. Of course, taking us back to the film that arguably started this trendy genre, when Wes Craven's "Scream" was first released it was considered by many as an extremely fresh injection into an otherwise homogenised genre. Writer Kevin Williamson's cynical take on a tried and true design, really hit home with an apparently more self-aware audience. However, as this teen marketing dream marched confidently with its brother and sister productions towards the new millennium, it would soon find that it had become just as stale as the genre that had spawned it. So, from an instant glance over the handsome teen faces on the front cover, expectations of Ripper - Letter From Hell were not good, to say the least. However, I'm always counting those darn chickens before they hatch.

When she was 16, Molly Keller became the sole survivor of a violent massacre that occurred whilst on holiday with a group of friends. This experience eventually leads Molly to Berkeley, where she studies Forensic Science under Professor Martin Kane, author and retired Manhunter. Soon (or sure) enough, Molly's past comes back to haunt her, as her classmates begin to turn up murdered in a disturbingly similar fashion to that of her fateful holiday, which Molly soon realises, bear an undeniable similarity to the murders of Jack the Ripper.

A.J. Cook (The Virgin Suicides) does a great job as Molly, and clearly demonstrates that she can carry a lead role with no troubles at all. Her supporting cast, with the likes of Bruce Payne (Dungeons & Dragons), Ryan Northcott (Mystery Alaska) and Jurgen Prochnow (The Last Stop) are equally convincing in their respective roles. Of course, the characters are all severely hackneyed. For example: there is the slut, the intellectual, the lesbian, the nerd, the pretentious foreign bitch; I think you get the point, but for most of the actors involved, they make the very best of this situation. The characters however, are relatively unimportant, as the real meat of this film lies in the thrills, of which there are very decent amounts. As you would expect, there are plenty of mind games going on up until the very end of the film, which, I am happy to report, are executed very skilfully and make Ripper a genuinely suspenseful experience.

  Video
  Audio
  Extras
Contract

Considering that Ripper is a Canadian production and was made for around $2-4 million, when it could have cost around $14 million in the U.S. you can certainly forgive the occasional, small discrepancies in colour and hue. The transfer is decidedly average, but is sufficient enough to view this over a VHS copy any day. Some small compression problems are evident at the beginning of the film, and there are a few flecks here and there, but overall, the remainder of the transfer is trouble-free. Whilst the layer change has been placed, with the best intentions, in a quiet moment, you may find (depending on your player) that the pause actually conceals a subtle plot device. However, if you can not figure it out within a couple of seconds, then I am afraid that having a sub-par DVD player is probably the least of your problems.

On the other hand, the 5.1 Dolby Digital track provided here is a real treat, making great use of the many trademark audio tactics included in any good horror film. The surrounds are put to good use with the many lightning crashes, pouring rain and other environmental effects, whilst slashes, screams and punctuated shock-blasts are all seriously effective. The dialogue is clear, and while it is a little generic, the rock-metal soundtrack comes through nice and big. The extras however, are hardly even worth the effort of a button-press. The cast/crew biographies are quite detailed, but the synopsis is pretty much an extended back cover.

Not the most original thriller available, but Ripper is very entertaining nonetheless, and holds enough genuine thrills to sustain two hours of nail-biting.


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  •   And I quote...
    "The characters are relatively unimportant, as the real meat of this film lies in the thrills, of which there are very decent amounts."
    - Ben Pollock
      Review Equipment
    • DVD Player:
          Omni SL-P2000KD
    • TV:
          Palsonic 71cm
    • 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 Optical
    • Video Cables:
          standard s-video
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