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Dereck Martini
Bella Heathcote, Lucas Till, Helen Slater, Penelope Mitchelle, Tom Arnold
Bret Easton Ellis and Derick Martini

Rated NR

Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1/16X9
English Dolby Digital 5.1
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 89 min.
Price: $22.98
Release Date: 9/1/2015

• Behind the Scenes Featurette
• Previews


Panasonic TC-P60VT60 60-Inch 1080p 600Hz 3D Smart Plasma HDTV; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.


The Curse of Downer's Grove (2015)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (August 31, 2015)

On the cover of the DVD for 2015’s The Curse of Downer’s Grove, it asserts that the film comes “from the author of American Psycho”. Logically, this leads one to assume that Bret Easton Ellis created the novel on which the movie is based.

Nope. Michael Hornburg wrote 1999’s Downer’s Grove, whereas Ellis simply acts as co-screenwriter. I believe this marks the first time Ellis wrote a script that wasn’t based on his own work, which makes Curse more intriguing.

Set in Downer’s Grove, Illinois, locals believe in a “curse”. This posits that every year, a high school senior will die a week before graduation.

As the school term nears its end, senior Chrissie Swanson (Bella Heathcote) feels skepticism toward the alleged curse. On the other hand, her pal Tracy (Penelope Mitchell) takes it more seriously and fears she’ll be the next victim. Chrissie starts to change her mind, however, after she encounters violence that haunts her.

Going into Curse, I expected a fairly traditional horror flick, perhaps something in the vein of the Final Destination series. However, the film doesn’t follow that path at all.

Instead, Curse plays much more like a thriller, as it includes few horror elements. After Chrissie’s semi-romantic encounter with football star Chuck (Kevin Segers) goes awry, the movie pursues a line related to stalking and psychos.

A story like that can succeed, of course, but Curse doesn’t tell the tale in a satisfying manner. It seems far too disjointed and unsure of itself to muster the necessary coherence.

This reflects the inconsistent tone and emphasis. Curse doesn’t seem to know where it wants to go, and this means it plods on a road to nowhere. The movie fails to explore different areas in an involving manner.

The concept of the titular “curse” flops worst of all. If the movie made the “curse” real, that could’ve been provocative. If the film explored the nature of myth and self-fulfilling prophecy, that might’ve worked.

Instead, Curse just gives us a stalker flick – and not an interesting one, at that. It fails to dig under the surface of this idea to do anything with it,

All of this leaves Curse as an unsatisfying thriller. It limps across the screen and never develops into anything entertaining.

The DVD Grades: Picture C/ Audio B-/ Bonus D+

The Curse of Downer’s Grove appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.40:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. Even when I accounted for the restrictions of SD-DVD, this seemed like a mediocre presentation.

Sharpness varied. Close-ups offered reasonable clarity, but wider shots tended to come across as a bit soft and fuzzy. These elements weren’t poor, but they lacked strong delineation. I witnessed no issued with shimmering or jagged edges, but edge haloes could be a distraction and onscreen text looked rough. Print flaws were absent.

Like virtually all modern thrillers, Curse opted for a stylized palette. It tended toward a low-key, semi-desaturated vibe that veered toward the teal side. That fit the material; the colors weren’t impressive, but they were decent for the movie. Blacks seemed somewhat inky and mushy, while shadows tended to be a little dense. Though not a poor presentation, the image lacked many strengths.

I felt more positive about the film’s Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack, as it worked fine. The audio went for a fairly atmospheric air, as the mix gave us logical accompaniment for the creepy visuals. This meant music popped up around the room and became somewhat dominant while effects remained mostly in the environmental realm. Scenes in public – like at restaurants or parties – added a little involvement but the track usually focused on ambience.

Audio quality was mostly good. Due to occasionally dodgy looping, dialogue could feel a little canned, but the lines were easily intelligible most of the time. Music showed nice range and impact, while the effects were reasonably accurate. This became an acceptable mix for an atmospheric thriller.

Only one extra appears on the DVD: Behind the Scenes of The Curse of Downer’s Grove. It lasts four minutes, 35 seconds and includes a mix of movie snippets and shots from the set. These tend to be forgettable and the featurette never goes anywhere.

The disc opens with ads for The Drownsman and Spring. No trailer for Curse shows up here.

With a decent horror movie premise, The Curse of Downer’s Grove boasts potential. Unfortunately, it quickly devolves into a messy, unfocused revenge thriller that meanders on the way to nowhere. The DVD offers generally good audio along with mediocre picture and minor supplements. Curse represents 89 minutes of my life I’ll never see again.

Viewer Film Ratings: 1 Stars Number of Votes: 1
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