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SYNAPSE

MOVIE INFO

Director:
AdriŠn GarcŪa Bogliano
Cast:
Christina Lindberg, Felice Jankell, Erica Midfjšll
Writing Credits:
AdriŠn GarcŪa Bogliano

Synopsis:
The lives of two sisters change dramatically after they become hypnotized by a mystical vinyl record from the 1970s.

MPAA:
Rated NR.

DISC DETAILS
Presentation:
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
Audio:
Swedish DTS-HD MA 5.1
Subtitles:
English
Closed-captioned
Supplements Subtitles:
None

Runtime: 103 min.
Price: $29.98
Release Date: 9/5/2023

Bonus:
• Audio Commentary with Writer/Director AdriŠn GarcŪa Bogliano
Donít Open Your Eyes Short Film
• Interview with Writer/Director AdriŠn GarcŪa Bogliano and Actor Christina Lindberg
• Behind the Scenes Featurette
• Still Gallery
• Teaser Trailer
• CD Soundtrack


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RELATED REVIEWS


Black Circle [Blu-Ray] (2018)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (September 21, 2023)

In the wake of the ďvinyl revivalĒ of recent years, apparently someone thought records would act as a good device for horror. This leads us to 2018ís Black Circle.

When Celeste (Felice Jankell) runs into a mix of problems, her more successful sister Isa (Erica Midfjšll) recommends an old record from the 1970s. Intended as a self-help device to assist with relaxation, it comes with terrifying side effects.

This means that the LP creates a doppelganger of the listener, one who will eventually take over the original personís life if not stopped. The sisters recruit hypnotist Lena Carlsson (Christina Lindberg) Ė the creator of the record Ė to prevent this.

Shades of Invasion of the Body Snatchers! Or many other movies, as this concept doesnít remain unique to that tale.

Nonetheless, the theme acts as a horror staple for a good reason, as it remains resonant. I find no reason to believe Circle couldnít put its own positive spin on the topic.

Alas, Circle fails to give us much substance into which we can sink our teeth. More a collection of trippy visuals than a coherent narrative, it fails to deliver the suspense or scares its plot promises.

Actually, around the filmís midpoint, it does start to become more concerned with a proper narrative. This occurs after the sisters formally meet Lena and learn of their predicament.

In theory, this means Circle should become more involving and urgent. Instead, it continues to plod without a whole lot of bite or purpose.

Circle originally existed as a 2017 short film entitled Donít Open Your Eyes. Actually, it seems unclear if Eyes existed more as a ďproof of conceptĒ to get funding for the longer edition or if writer/director AdriŠn GarcŪa Bogliano felt so pleased with it that he felt compelled to do it a second time in a longer/more ambitious format.

Whatever the case, Circle too often feels like a short stretched to feature length. Indeed, as I watched, I didnít know Eyes existed, but I thought Circle gave off the vibe of something that adapted a short.

This means a lot of Circle just comes across as padded. Scenes last far too long and come with far too little payoff.

Characters exist for no important reason. Various sequences seem to pop up simply to stretch the running time, even if they donít add anything to the story or roles.

Every once in a while, Circle almost starts to intrigue the viewer. As mentioned, the basic premise seems sturdy and worthwhile.

Unfortunately, these glimpses of promise quickly evaporate. In the end, they leave us with a slow, dull horror movie that lacks much punch.


The Disc Grades: Picture B/ Audio C+/ Bonus B+

Black Circle appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. Though not a visual showcase, the presentation seemed to reproduce the source accurately.

Sharpness varied and could seem on the soft side occasionally. Some of that appeared to be intentional, but some of the less-defined footage didnít make a lot of sense. In any case, the image usually showed pretty good delineation.

I saw no issues with jagged edges or shimmering, and no edge haloes appeared. Outside of intentional ďdefectsĒ added to fake archival material, the movie lacked source flaws.

Colors leaned toward a dreary palette that favored homely, dull blues and greens. Outside of some splashes of pink, these didnít look good but again, they appeared to deliver the intended tones.

Blacks could seem a bit inky, and shadows tended to feel somewhat murky. This never turned into an attractive movie, but it seemed to produce the image the filmmakers desired.

Perhaps this remained true for the filmís DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack as well, but it came across as oddly clunky. The soundscape used the various channels in a semi-awkward manner that didnít really connect.

Some of this appeared intended to convey the movieís trippy vibe, but I still thought the soundfield came across as oddly loose and without real coherence. The elements came together fine at times but too often seemed perplexing Ė to me, at least.

Audio quality also varied, partly due to iffy looping. Much of the dialogue sounded natural, but more than a few lines seemed artificial and clumsy.

Effects offered decent clarity and accuracy Ė despite some less than convincing foley work - while music showed appropriate reproduction. Like the visuals, the audio may well offer exactly what the filmmakers wanted, but the end result just didnít seem very good.

A few extras appear, and we launch with an audio commentary from writer/director AdriŠn GarcŪa Bogliano. He provides a running, screen-specific look at the opening credits, influences and inspirations, story and characters, cast and performances, sets, locations and production design, photography and editing, music, various effects, and connected domains.

Expect a pretty good commentary from Bogliano, as he gets into a nice array of topics. Bogliano goes over these in a frank and informative manner.

A short film entitled Donít Open Your Eyes lasts 10 minutes, 55 seconds. From 2017, this offers the same basic story as Circle but in obviously abbreviated form.

This means not only that Eyes and Circle share a lot of the same cast and crew but also that Circle literally reuses shots from Eyes. While Iíve seen plenty of shorts remade as features, I donít recall others that featured literally identical footage.

The story works better in this format, as Eyes lacks the extreme padding of Circle. This doesnít make it a great film, but Eyes sees more effective than the tedious Circle.

Next comes an Interview with writer/director AdriŠn GarcŪa Bogliano and actor Christina Lindberg. Both sit together during this 57-minute, 27-second chat.

They cover aspects of Lindbergís life/career. We donít get much about Black Circle but this still becomes an engaging retrospective.

A Behind the Scenes Featurette spans nine minutes, four seconds. We get notes from Bogliano, Lindberg, and actors Hanna Asp, Johan Palm, Felice Jankell, Hans Sandqvist, and Madeleine Barwen Trollvik.

The program sticks with material shot on the set, so even the comments come from those locations. Nothing especially fascinating appears, but the glimpses of the production add some value.

In addition to the filmís teaser trailer, we get an Image Gallery. It gives us 169 shots from the film and becomes an extensive but not especially interesting collection.

A second disc presents a CD soundtrack for Circle. It runs 58 minutes and will become a nice bonus for fans of movie scores.

Even though it just offers another riff on Invasion of the Body Snatchers, Black Circle still offers the potential to become a creative variation on that theme. Instead it turns into a slow and muddled journey to nowhere. The Blu-ray comes with decent visuals, oddly awkward audio and a nice array of bonus materials. Despite some compelling possibilities, Circle doesnít connect.

Viewer Film Ratings: 2 Stars Number of Votes: 1
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