Howl (Blu-ray) (2015)

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Released 23-Mar-2016

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Horror Trailer-x 4 for other Eagle Entertainment releases
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 2015
Running Time 92:26
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Ads Then Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Paul Hyett
Studio
Distributor

Eagle Entertainment
Starring Ed Speleers
Holly Weston
Malcolm Trussler
Rosie Day
Shauna Macdonald
Amit Shah
Ania Marson
Elliot Cowen
Sam Gittins

Case Standard Blu-ray
RPI ? Music Paul E. Francis


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English DTS HD Master Audio 5.1
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.40:1
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

     Joe (Ed Speleers) is the guard / ticket collector on the midnight train out of Waterloo Station. He is a loser and unassertive: he has been passed over for promotion, has not issued a fine for ticket evasion for ages and has been rejected by Ellen (Holly Weston), the steward on the train. It is a night of rain and wind and the train hits something while passing through the forest and comes to a halt. The driver gets out to investigate, and disappears. The storm has damaged signals and power lines and help will not arrive for hours. We know that there is something dangerous out there in the forest but the passengers do not so rather than wait for help they decide to walk to the next station. But in the forest they find the mutilated body of the driver, apparently ravaged by a wild beast. They run back to the train but soon find themselves trapped inside by werewolves, hungry for blood. As the werewolves break into the train, can the passengers put aside their differences long enough to come up with a plan to stay alive until dawn?

     Howl is a low budget British film by director Paul Hyett; it is only his second feature as director but he has an extensive resume in both TV and film as a make-up and prosthetics effects supervisor. It is therefore no surprise that the werewolf effects, make-up, gore and blood are pretty effective in Howl but Hyett also does a competent job directing, keeping the plotting and action tight. Howl wastes almost no time in set up or exposition, throwing us straight into the tension and horror as Hyett does not keep the werewolves back. We see glimpses of them after about 14 minutes but the film keeps up the tension due to periodic shocks as the werewolves attack the train, juxtaposed with the claustrophobic atmosphere inside the train where pretty much the entire film is set. The horror is balanced by some comedic moments and good performances by Ed Speleers, as Joe gradually grows in statute to take charge of what is happening, and Holly Weston. The rest of the passengers are mainly stereotypes, the old couple, annoying girl, uptight businesswoman, obese man, arrogant man, but they are there to be werewolf fodder and there is enough individualisation to know who is who.

     I enjoyed Howl as it pretty much achieves what it sets out to do without fuss or pretention. It is well made, tense and claustrophobic, with a good sense of understated British humour, grisly gore, decent creature make-up effects and a nice array of shocks.

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Transfer Quality

Video

     Howl is presented in an aspect ratio of 2.40:1, close enough to the original 2.35:1 ratio, in 1080p using the MPEG-4 AVC code.

     Filmed with Arri Alexa digital cameras, Howl looks great. Set almost entirely in the night, colours are muted for the most part, the blood being more crimson than bright red which is not a criticism! Detail is sharp and thankfully the blacks are deep and shadow detail is excellent allowing us to see what the filmmakers intended us to see in the forest. Skin tones are good, without that usual digital yellowish tinge under lights, brightness and contrast is consistent.

     I did not notice any artefacts or marks.

     There are no subtitles offered.

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

Audio

     Feature audio is English DTS-HD MA 5.1.

     Dialogue is clear, centred and easy to understand. This is quite a front oriented audio track; even during the rain the surrounds and rears provided only some ambient effects and music although there were some effective creature howls and forest rustles and activity during the attacks. The sub-woofer mostly supported creature howls, thumps and crashes and the music.

     The original score by Paul E. Francis was atmospheric and effective.

     There are no lip synchronisation issues.

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

Extras

Trailers

     Trailers for October Gale (2:02), How to Plan an Orgy in a Small Town (1:30), Electric Slide (2:16) and Grassland (1:58) play on start-up. They cannot be selected from the menu.

R4 vs R1

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

    Both the US Region A and the UK Region B Blu-ray of Howl include as extras short featurettes on the werewolves (6:10), the humans (6:18), the train (5:36), the sound design (5:31) and the colour grading (4:08) which would give those releases the edge. The US release also includes English SDH subtitles.

Summary

     There is little that is original about Howl but it is an effective and fun low budget British horror film where the creature effects, blood and gore are well done without being over the top. Fans of the genre can do far worse than give Howl a look.

     The video is very good, the audio gets the job done. There are only trailers for other films as extras and we miss out on the minor extras available in other regions.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ray Nyland (the bio is the thing)
Thursday, April 07, 2016
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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