Rites of Spring (Blu-ray) (2011)

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Released 19-Mar-2014

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Horror Theatrical Trailer
Trailer-x 8 for other films
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 2011
Running Time 80:18
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Ads Then Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Padraig Reynolds
Studio
Distributor
Gryphon Entertainment Starring AJ Bowen
Marco St. John
Anessa Ramsey
Hannah Bryan
Sonny Marinelli
Katherine Randolph
Andrew Breland
James Bartz
Case Standard Blu-ray
RPI ? Music Holly Amber Church


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English DTS HD Master Audio 5.1
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 1080p
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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Plot Synopsis

     For twenty four years on the first day of Spring young women have disappeared, never to be seen again, their bodies never found. This year Rachel (Anessa Ramsey) and Alyssa (Hannah Bryan) are abducted when their car has a flat tyre and they awake to find themselves hanging from ropes in a barn watched over by The Stranger (Marco St. John). It becomes clear that they are to be sacrificed by The Stranger as part of Spring rites to ensure a good harvest and to propitiate the man-beast (shown in the credits as Wormface) which lives in the cellar beneath the barn.

     In a parallel plotline, Ben (AJ Bowen) and his girlfriend Amy (Katherine Randolph), together with his brother Tommy (Andrew Breland) and the deadly Paul (Sonny Marinelli), kidnap the preteen daughter of wealthy businessman Ryan Hayden (James Bartz) and demand a ransom of $2 million for her return within two hours. They wait for the ransom in an abandoned school where Ben especially starts to have doubts about what they are doing and tension rises between Ben and Paul. Then, as night falls, Rachael escapes from the barn and pursued by Wormface with an axe stumbles into the abandoned school and the kidnappers. Then things get very messy.

     As the plot outline shows, Rites of Spring has two quite different storylines that come together in the last 25 minutes of the film. Rites of Spring has been criticised for mixing two different genres, channelling aspects of any number of horror films with abduction and kidnap dramas. This is true enough and the film is derivative, the Blu-ray packaging promising Friday the 13th meets The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Child of Wrath and Jeepers Creepers, to which one could add Children of the Corn. Yet, that said, in Rites of Spring writer / director Padraig Reynolds keeps things moving along smoothly and the film does work due to the compact running time, some decent acting and a good helping of effective frights, tension and scares, even though the scares are often predictable.

     Indeed, the dual plotlines of Rites of Spring help to keep one’s interest, if only because one is not quite sure which way the film is going to go. Sure, the plotting is contrived and it is obviously not Rachael’s day, being abducted, seeing her friend sacrificed, escaping and being chased by an axe welding maniac before stumbling into a kidnap, where things if possible get worse! There are also glaring plot holes, but from the abduction of the two young women during the opening credits the pace of the film seldom flags and it packs a lot into its 80 minute running time. Rites of Spring is also not really a slasher film as such and, although there is plenty of blood, severed limbs, murders and sacrifices, the film is not gory for the sake of being gory and often suggests more gore than is actually seen.

     Rites of Spring may not be anything too original, but it wastes no time, builds the tension well and provides a fair number of frights. If the genre is of interest this film is well worth a look.

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Transfer Quality

Video

     Rites of Spring is presented in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1, the original ratio, in 1080p using the MPEG-4 AVC code.

     Rites of Spring was filmed digitally and the print colours, while natural, have that glossy digital look. The film also uses a moving hand held technique for virtually every scene which, while it may work during chase scenes, becomes a bit distracting as even during two person conversations the camera moves and tilts. However the print is sharp enough, except where the light source is behind the character when it can be glary. Blacks are solid, but some shadow detail is also indistinct.

     There was occasional motion blur against mottled surfaces but no marks or other artefacts.

     There are no subtitles.

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

Audio

     The only audio choice is an English DTS-HD MA 5.1 track.

     The audio track is effective at helping to create tension and deliver frights. Dialogue from AJ Bowen was occasionally unclear but was otherwise fine. The surrounds and rears did what was required for a horror film, providing ambient sounds such as birds flapping, weather effects, footsteps and the eerie score by Holly Amber Church. The subwoofer added ominous rumbles, bass to Wormface’s footsteps and the music.

     I did not notice any lip synchronisation issues.

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

Extras

Trailers

     On Start-up we get trailers for Spiderhole (1:55) and Madison County (1:39). As well, trailers for Sick Boy (1:25), American Bully (2:03), Sweet Karma 2 (1:31), Gnaw (1:40), Another American Crime (1:19) and Neverlost (2:23) can be selected from the menu.

Theatrical Trailer (1:27)

R4 vs R1

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

     There is not currently listed a Region A US Blu-ray release of Rites of Spring although there is a Region 1 DVD which is apparently in a ratio of 1.33:1. The Region Free UK Blu-ray looks to be the same as our release and is without extras. Buy local.

Summary

     Rites of Spring may be derivative and telegraphs its scares but it wastes no time, is well made, reasonably well acted and creates it’s tension well. There are far worse low budget independent horror films being made, and the film is certainly not as bad as some reviews have indicated.

     The video is acceptable, the audio good. Some trailers are the only extras.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ray Nyland (the bio is the thing)
Thursday, April 24, 2014
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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