In a Valley of Violence (Blu-ray) (2016)

If you create a user account, you can add your own review of this DVD

Released 18-Jan-2017

Cover Art

This review is sponsored by
BUY IT

Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Western Trailer-x 5 for other films
Featurette-Behind The Scenes-(2:00)
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 2016
Running Time 103:37
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Ads Then Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Ti West
Studio
Distributor

Universal Pictures Home Video
Starring Ethan Hawke
John Travolta
Taissa Farmiga
James Ransone
Karen Gillan
Larry Fessenden
Toby Huss
Tommy Nohilly
Burn Gorman

Case Standard Blu-ray
RPI ? Music Jeff Grace


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English DTS HD Master Audio 5.1
French dts 5.1
Spanish dts 5.1
German dts 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 English for the Hearing Impaired
French
German
Spanish
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

     Paul (Ethan Hawke) is an Indian fighter who has deserted the army and is drifting with his dog Abby towards Mexico. Running short of food and water he wanders into the run-down and almost deserted ex-mining town of Denton, Texas where he is accosted by loud-mouthed bully Gilly (James Ransone) and his cronies. In front the townspeople and his fiancée Ellen (Karen Gillan) Gilly challenges Paul to a fist fight; Paul publically humiliates Gilly by flattening him with one punch.

     Paul goes to the nearby hotel for a bath where Ellen’s younger sister Mary-Anne (Taissa Farmiga), who dislikes Gilly, applauds Paul’s actions. Shortly afterwards the town marshall (John Travolta) walks in; he is a law man but he is also Gilly’s father and knows his son’s faults only too well so, told that it was a fair fight, he allows Paul to leave Denton. But Gilly is not prepared to let his humiliation go; with three men he follows Paul and that night they kill Paul’s dog and throw Paul off a cliff and leave him for dead. Paul, of course, is not killed and now is determined to have his revenge for the killing of his dog. The town of Denton is about to witness a very violent afternoon.

     In a Valley of Violence is written, directed and edited by Ti West. West made a name for himself with The House of the Devil (2009) and followed it up with another horror film The Innkeepers (2011), an impressive supernatural horror / thriller which I enjoyed very much when I reviewed it on this site, saying then that “Ti West is definitely a talent to watch”. With In a Valley of Violence he has stepped away from his usual horror genre but his take on the western genre is equally impressive.

     In a Valley of Violence is clearly influenced by the spaghetti westerns of Sergio Leone: the opening titles and the music are very Leone and Ennio Morricone but if you are going to lift such things it may as well be from the best! It has also been said that elements of the plot of In a Valley of Violence are similar to High Plains Drifter (1973), First Blood (1982) and John Wick (2016), but all this really suggests is that there are very few original plotlines around; all one can ask is that it is done properly, which is exactly what West achieves.

     In a Valley of Violence is economical storytelling; it hints at backstories only, preferring to develop the characters as the film progresses. Each of the cronies of Gilly, Roy (Larry Fessenden), Harris (Toby Huss) and Tubby (Tommy Nohilly) are individually drawn and believable, the Preacher (Burn Gorman), who reappears throughout the film, is good fun while a grizzled John Travolta is excellent as a man who knows what is likely to happen but tragically is unable to stop it, perhaps the best Travolta has been for a while. Ethan Hawke, who made this film before the big budget The Magnificent Seven in the same year, is also very good in the Clint Eastwood man of few words role, although his interactions with his dog are delightful and funny. Taissa Farmiga and Karen Gillan are also good; the only one-dimensional character is James Ransone’s Gilly, although I guess this is how the character was written.

     In a Valley of Violence is certainly gritty; this is the spaghetti western landscape of desert, a small town with dusty streets, torn clothing, brutal and bloody action, the morality of the characters ambiguous. The plot may not add anything new, but Ti West has assembled an excellent cast and delivered a low key but very entertaining western. And the dog is wonderful!

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality

Video

     In a Valley of Violence is presented in an aspect ratio of 2.40:1, in 1080p using the MPEG-4 AVC code.

     This is a gritty western; as is fitting for the desert location the colour palate is brown and yellow, the colours slightly washed out. Detail is generally strong, although some scenes did look softer. Blacks and shadow detail were good, skin tones fine and brightness and contrast consistent.

     Other than some blur in a couple of scenes I did not notice any artefacts or marks.

     Subtitles are English for the hearing impaired, French, Spanish and German.

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

Audio

     Audio choices are English DTS-HD MA 5.1, French, Spanish and German, all DTS 5.1.

     The audio does what is required. Dialogue is clean and centred, the surrounds and rears were used for ambient effects and the music while the gunshots were loud and reverberating, with some panning. The sub-woofer added depth to the gunshots, horses and the music.

     The score by Jeff Grace, as noted above, referenced Ennio Morricone and so complemented the film’s visuals.

     I saw no lip synchronisation issues.

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

Extras

Start-Up Trailers

     Trailers for The Take (1:40), Kicks (0:33), Nocturnal Animals (2:07), Hitchcock Truffaut (2:11) and Desierto (0:33) play on start-up. They cannot be selected from the menu.

Behind the Scenes of In a Valley of Violence (2:00)

     All of two minutes of on-set, film footage and Ethan Hawke talking about the film.

R4 vs R1

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

     Except for the local trailers our Australian release is the same as the Region A US version of In a Valley of Violence including the FBI anti-piracy warning.

Summary

     I don’t think In a Valley of Violence got a theatrical release in this country which is a pity as it deserves to be seen. Drawing on the spaghetti westerns of Sergio Leone, In a Valley of Violence is brutal and bloody, morally ambiguous, enticing and entertaining. In a Valley of Violence is another notch in Ti West impressive filmography; I will definitely wait with interest to see what he will do next.

     The video and the audio are good. The extra is very minor indeed.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ray Nyland (the bio is the thing)
Tuesday, June 20, 2017
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

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add) NONE