Midnight Son (2011) (NTSC)

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Released 17-Jan-2013

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Horror / Thriller Audio Commentary-Writer / director Scott Leberecht and cast
Interviews-Cast & Crew
Deleted Scenes
Theatrical Trailer
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 2011
Running Time 88:18 (Case: 92)
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Scott Leberecht
Studio
Distributor
Gryphon Entertainment Starring Zak Kilberg
Maya Parish
Jo D. Jonz
Tracey Walter
Larry Cedar
Arlen Escarpeta
Kevin McCorkle
Case Alpha-Transparent
RPI ? Music Kays Al-Atrakchi


Video (NTSC) Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 480i (NTSC)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.78:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking Yes, and drug use
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

     Jacob (Zak Kilberg) is a confused young man. His skin gets blistered by the sun, so he works at night as a security guard and lives in a basement flat with the windows boarded over with paintings he has done, mostly of a very bright and colourful sun. He is anaemic, although he eats well, but is drawn to blood. He meets and is attracted to Mary (Maya Parish) but is wary of a relationship. Jacob starts to think he may be a vampire and rents vampire movies to check, but as he has not grown fangs and a cross has no effect upon him he discards the idea as ridiculous. Yet, his craving for blood becomes compelling. He first buys very bloody cuts of meat from a butcher, but when this does not satisfy him he turns to hospital worker Marcus (Jo D. Jonz) for a supply of expired hospital blood. When the hospital blood becomes hard to get Marcus turns to other means to supply Jacob, and violence escalates. As well, a woman from Marcus’ building has been brutally murdered and Detective Ginslegh of the LAPD (Larry Cedar) is asking questions.

     Midnight Son, made on a very small budget, was obviously a labour of love by writer / director / editor Scott Leberecht. Despite some chunky dialogue, for the first 2/3rds of its running time Midnight Son is a thoughtful film about identity, knowing who you are, guilt, anxiety, loneliness and love. Jacob cannot understand his body and his cravings, but tries to live as normal a life as possible. He feels that he is different, but is unsure of why, and within this scenario the tentative relationship with Mary, who has her own issues with drugs and relationships, is nicely played out. This could be any lonely young couple, dealing with fear, attraction and awkward differences. Maya Parish as Mary is not totally convincing, but Zak Kilberg as Jacob is very good indeed; he does not have a lot of dialogue but his eyes and body language are eloquent enough to sell his confusion and increasing desperation.

     The film changes tack however when Jacob infects Marcus, and Marcus turns into a very murderous, blood thirsty vampire indeed. In the first half of the film Jacob does elicit our sympathy with his confusion and anxiety, his awkwardness and his awakening awareness and the scenes with Mary are played with humour and compassion. But as the film moves into more confrontationist territory, and Jacob’s craving for blood increases, it is as if writer Leberecht was not sure about where to go or how to resolve the film. Is Jacob a monster? How do we maintain some sympathy for him? His answer was to create a “bad” vampire in Marcus to take the focus away from Jacob and his crimes. For Jacob is indeed a murderer, if off screen, although he does have some guilt feelings and seems not to remember his crimes. But the whole Marcus plot seems too contrived, and the film turns from romance to crime thriller with limited success. Then, the final scene of the film, a “happy” ending of sorts to the romance, changes the focus again in a quite jarring way.

     Midnight Son is a vampire film about trying to live a normal life, understanding yourself and being different. It is uneven but not without interest and Zak Kilberg is excellent and believable as the conflicted young man.

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Transfer Quality

Video

     Midnight Son is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, the original theatrical ratio, and is 16x9 enhanced. It is an NTSC print.

     Shot digitally, to say that the DVD print is a mixed bag is an understatement. Some of the film looks absolutely gorgeous, with rich deep colours that look as if they emerged from an Old Masters’ painting. The colours in paintings done by Jacob, especially the reds and yellows, are vibrant. On the other hand, a many of the outdoors scenes at night, and there are a lot, look dull, detail is indistinct and digital noise is evident resulting in a very grainy image (such as 58:47). There are instances of macro-blocking, such as on the green wall at 45:29 or the face at 52:06 and there was also occasional ghosting with motion against mottled surfaces, but film artefacts are absent. Flesh tones are nicely handled; Jacob’s skin is very pale until he starts to enjoy human blood, then they darken. Mary takes the opposite journey. Blacks are solid throughout.

     The layer change at 60:22 resulted in a slight pause.

     There are no subtitles.

     This was a low budget film but there are still more issues with this print than I would have expected. Some are distracting, but the film on other occasions can look beautiful.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

     Audio is an English Dolby Digital 5.1 track at 448 Kbps, plus a commentary at 192 Kbps.

     Dialogue was mostly clear and easy to understand, the exception being some lines from Jo D. Jonz. This is not a film with a lot of action but the surrounds are used for ambient effects and music. I really did not notice any sub-woofer use, or was any required.

     Lip synchronisation is fine.

     The original music by Kays Alatrakchi was excellent. It is minimalist and low key, and supports the film very well.

     The audio track was perfectly fine for this type of film.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Interviews with Cast and Crew

     Questions are posed in text on the screen and answered by the interviewee. Those involved are:

     There is no film footage and the interviews are mostly informative. The most extensive interview is with the writer / director, who comes across as intelligent and interesting. Leberecht talks about wanting to make a “realistic” vampire picture, not one with a glamorous vampire or one with super powers. He discusses writing the script, his working practices, the look of the film and the difficulties of the shoot on a very limited budget. The actors are less interesting, mostly discussing their characters or working with the director, while Moncrief also has some useful things to say about how he shot the film on HD. Worth a look.

Audio Commentary

     Writer / director Scott Leberecht and cast Zak Kilberg, Maya Parish and Jo D. Jonz sit together to talk about the making of Midnight Son. There is occasionally too much of “I love this scene” but on the whole this is a good entertaining commentary discussing locations, editing, reshoots, casting and shooting a film, at night, on a very low budget that is well worth a listen. Some of the information is repeated from the interviews above.

Deleted Scenes (1:58)

     Three deleted scenes, without commentary or indication of where they fitted into the film. Nothing essential.

Theatrical Trailer (2:24)

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

     The Region 1 US and Region 2 UK releases of Midnight Son are identical in audio and video to ours (all are NTSC). Both have the same extras as ours although the Region 2 version adds 4 musical cues. This does not seem sufficient to go past our Region All release.

Summary

     Midnight Son is a vampire film about trying to live a normal life, understanding yourself and being different. It is uneven but not without interest and Zak Kilberg is excellent and believable as the conflicted young man.

     The video is a mixed bag, the audio fine. Extras are more extensive than one might expect from a low budget independent film, and we get the same as in other regions. A good package.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ray Nyland (the bio is the thing)
Tuesday, March 19, 2013
Review Equipment
DVDSony BDP-S580, using HDMI output
DisplayLG 55inch HD LCD. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderNAD T737. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.
AmplificationNAD T737
SpeakersStudio Acoustics 5.1

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