The River Murders appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.78:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. This became a surprisingly good SD-DVD presentation.
Sharpness looked solid. A few shots were slightly soft, but these were minor concerns. Overall, though, definition was quite good. No jagged edges or edge haloes occurred, and shimmering was insubstantial. Source flaws were a non-factor, as the movie stayed clean.
Like most modern thrillers, Murders opted for a stylized palette. It tended to be somewhat desaturated, actually, with fairly chilly blue-green hues. Within their parameters, the colors appeared well-developed. Blacks seemed deep and tight, while shadows were solid; they showed positive clarity. In the end, the transfer proved to be very good for its format.
As for the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack of Murders, it was a decent mix. The mix tended to be music heavy, as the score played the most prominent role. Effects tended to be atmospheric; they displayed environmental material in the various channels but nothing that came across as especially memorable or engaging.
Audio quality seemed fine. Speech was crisp and distinctive, with no edginess or other concerns. Music was full and rich, while effects came across as clear and accurate. The track boasted positive low-end when appropriate. All of this was good enough for a “B-”.
We get a few extras here, highlighted by two separate audio commentaries. The first features director/producer Rich Cowan, cinematographer Dan Heigh and editor Jason A. Payne. All three sit together for this running, screen-specific look at the opening credits and photographic choices, editing, sets and locations, cast and performances, some effects, and a couple of additional filmmaking topics.
Expect a pretty average chat here. The men deliver a reasonable look at the standard assortment of subjects but don’t do more than that. We learn a bit about the movie but don’t get a terribly compelling piece.
The second commentary features writer/producer Steve Anderson, actor/producer Sarah Ann Schultz and actors Gisele Fraga and Michael Rodrick. (We also get some guest appearances from Schultz’s young son Dominic, the kid who plays “Young Jack”, but he doesn’t say much.) All of the crew sit together for a running, screen-specific discussion of how the various participants came to the project, cast, characters and performances, sets and locations, costumes, script and story topics, and a few other areas.
While this commentary isn’t much more informative than the first one, it’s more enjoyable due to the level of energy displayed. The participants interact well and provide a fairly lively piece. As with the prior piece, we don’t get a ton of great insights, but we find a moderately likable chat.
A ”Making of” Featurette lasts 10 minutes, seven seconds. It provides notes from Cowan, Anderson, Fraga, Rodrick, Schultz, Heigh, producer Richard Salvatore, and actors Ving Rhames and Christian Slater. The program looks at story and characters, cast and performances, photography and the atmosphere on the set. Other than a few shots from the production, there’s not much of value here, especially after two commentaries; most of the information appears in those. This is a pretty forgettable promotional piece.
The disc opens with ads for Arena, Legend of the Millennium Dragon, The Caller and Breaking Bad. These also appear under Previews. No trailer for Murders shows up here.
With an unusual premise within the serial killer genre, The River Murders boasts decent potential. Unfortunately, the movie suffers from too many flaws; it comes with clunky dialogue, stiff acting and a general sense of lethargy, all of which make it a dull “thriller”. The DVD delivers very good picture, acceptable audio and a decent set of supplements. We find a pretty nice DVD for a forgettable film.