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ALCHEMY

MOVIE INFO

Director:
Adam Mason
Cast:
Jeremy Sisto, Kate Ashfield, Ryan Simpkins, Ty Simpkins
Writing Credits:
Adam Mason and Simon Boyes

Synopsis:
Returning from vacation, the Miller family find their home has been broken into. After cleaning up the mess they continue with their lives, shaking off the feeling of being violated. But little do they know the nightmare has just begun.

MPAA:
Rated NR

DISC DETAILS
Presentation:
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
Audio:
English Dolby TrueHD 5.1
English Dolby Stereo 2.0
Subtitles:
English
Spanish
Closed-captioned
Supplements Subtitles:
None

Runtime: 85 min.
Price: $24.99
Release Date: 2/9/2016

Bonus:
• Previews and Trailer


PURCHASE @ AMAZON.COM

EQUIPMENT
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.

RELATED REVIEWS


Hangman [Blu-Ray] (2015)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (February 16, 2016)

Another entry in the “found footage” genre, 2015’s Hangman introduces us to the Miller family: Aaron (Jeremy Sisto), Beth (Kate Ashfield) and children Marley (Ryan Simpkins) and Max (Ty Simpkins). When they depart for a vacation, someone steals their car and then ransacks their house.

The Millers discover this when they arrive home, though they remain unaware of the break-in until they get to the house, as the culprit returned their car to the airport. Why do this? Because the criminal stages more than just a simple robbery – he concocts a complicated system of sabotage that continues long after the Millers come home.

As much as the “found footage” concept inspires dread in me, one particular phrase frightens me more: “inspired by true events”. Given that “based on true events” can be nearly meaningless, “inspired by” fares even worse. “Inspired by” films have only the loosest connection to any “true events”, so the designation seems pointless and gratuitous.

Because the Blu-ray includes no supplements – and I could find no information on the usual movie-related websites – I have no idea how much of Hangman was actually “inspired by true events”. I’m guessing the filmmakers once knew someone who lived in a house and that’s the extent of the “inspiration”.

Whatever the “reality” behind the film may be, the end result seems terribly trite and dull. Even at a mere 85 minutes, Hangman offers a slow viewing experience, largely because it doesn’t bother to invest us in the characters or situations. We know next to nothing about the Millers, so the film focuses on little more than attempted creepy moments.

Oh, those abound in Hangman. As soon as the culprit gets in the Millers’ car, the film delivers one supposedly frightening bit after another, none of which evoke any actual scares. We get the occasional jolt but nothing else.

At its core, Hangman reminds me most of Paranormal Activity. Like that movie, Hangman concentrates mainly on events in one house, and both also provide endless minutes of banality punctuated by the sporadic attempt at terror.

I thought Paranormal was a snoozer and I feel the same way about Hangman. There’s just no meat on these particular bones, as the absence of a real narrative or interesting characters robs it of more than the most basic potential for drama.

Which I do think it possesses. As tired as I am of the “found footage” genre, the premise behind the movie could’ve demonstrated some creepy moments.

We just don’t find any of them here. Hangman feels more like someone’s first draft of a student film more than a well thought-out effort. Whatever potential exists, little of that reaches the screen, so that leaves Hangman as a tedious bore.


The Blu-ray Grades: Picture C/ Audio C/ Bonus D-

Hangman appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.78:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. Like most “found footage” movies, this one came with erratic visuals.

These reflected the source and were fine within the stylistic constraints. We’re supposed to see material shot on consumer-grade video equipment – primarily smart phones, one would assume – and the results fit. Sharpness was generally positive, as most of the shots offered decent delineation. Inevitable softness occurred, but nothing too serious could be seen, and the ill-defined moments made sense in terms of the material.

Occasional bouts of jaggies and shimmering popped up as well, both of which also were the result of the source footage. They were especially prominent when the movie showed TV images. No edge haloes caused problems, though, and I saw no print flaws.

“Found footage” flicks tend toward drab palettes, and that was the case here. The colors generally appeared flat and without much life, though I didn’t view that as a negative; the tones reflected the source. Blacks were inky and shadows dense, which also came from the style of photography. Nothing here looked especially good, but the visuals connected to the source.

In addition, the film’s Dolby TrueHD 5.1 soundtrack seemed restrained. Indeed, most of the material remained monaural, as only a few scenes bothered to use the side speakers. If any surround information occurred, I didn’t discern it, as only a few shots even bothered with any channels other than front center.

As low-key as the soundscape was, I actually felt pleased. Most “found footage” films violate their sense of reality with broad 5.1 mixes, so I was happy to get one that lacked breadth beyond what one might actually hear from original recordings. The results may have been one-dimensional, but they seemed logical.

Audio quality was acceptable. Speech could be a bit edgy but the results usually seemed natural enough, and I noticed no issues with intelligibility. Effects had little to do but came across with decent accuracy. Except during the end credits, the movie featured no score, so we heard no music other than from sources like stereos. This was a firmly average soundtrack.

The disc opens with ads for Howl, Frankenstein, and Charlie’s Farm. We also get a trailer for Hangman but no other extras appear here.

Two oft-visited genres combine in Hangman, a bland attempt at a thriller. It mixes both “found footage” and “home invasion” with poor results, as the movie seems slow and dull. The Blu-ray presents acceptable picture and audio but lacks supplements. Hangman ends up as a forgettable tale.

Viewer Film Ratings: 1 Stars Number of Votes: 1
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