Unspeakable (2001)

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Tentatively Due Out for Sale 14-Jan-2004
Available for Rent

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Thriller Main Menu Audio & Animation
Theatrical Trailer
Rating Rated R
Year Of Production 2001
Running Time 104:06 (Case: 108)
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Thomas Wright
Studio
Distributor
Pav Films
Imagine Entertainment
Starring Dennis Hopper
Dina Meyer
Lance Henriksen
Jeff Fahey
Pavan Grover
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI ? Music Jeff Marsh


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.78:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

    Unspeakable is a slightly laughable attempt at the serial killer genre, and is by no means a patch on Silence Of The Lambs or Green Mile, which the back cover suggests. It does share some similarities to each of these great movies in the plot department, but as for the acting...no cigar...nowhere near close!

    Diana Purlow (Dina Meyer) is a medical researcher who has written some rather nifty software which allows her to download memories from serial killers, via a funny hat, and save them on her laptop. At the start of the film she is trying to determine the truth behind the conviction of a poor Mexican, who has been sentenced to death for (rather graphically) hacking out the brain of a border patrol policewoman. She manages to download his memories and is convinced that he is innocent. Armed with her trusty laptop she tries to convince the Governor that he should pardon the man...but alas, he is unimpressed with her dodgy MPEGs and they fry the guy anyway.

    Around the same time, Jesse Mowatt (Pavan Grover), the most feared serial killer in the state is sentenced and brought to the prison for execution. Using her immense charm, and not inconsiderable sex-appeal, she manages to convince Jesse that he should help with her research work on the Brain Polyscan. Once Jesse dons the magic shower cap however, Diana realises that there is something unnatural about Jesse's mental abilities - possibly supernatural? As those who come into contact with Jesse begin to succumb to violent and messy ends, Diana realises that she may have bitten off more than her Pentium II can handle.

    Look, there are some rather good chills and the occasional decent shock in this movie. Whilst my review is a little tongue-in-cheek, the film does have some redeeming features. Unfortunately, the interesting premise and the occasional nice set-piece are spoiled by some really (and I mean really) awful acting. Whilst the main players do a half-decent job for much of the time, the supporting cast look like they have been dragged in off the street and asked to perform. Any scene involving a fight is almost guaranteed to raise a laugh - Grover is no action hero. Similarly there is a totally disproportionate use of blood whenever someone is injured. The occasional fast and slow motion shots look out of place, and appear to have been inserted in an attempt to cover up for some of the shortfalls in acting ability - they are certainly gratuitous.

    Unspeakable is a brave writing and producing debut for the brooding Pavan Grover. Unfortunately, his acting leaves something to be desired - whilst he seems to have mastered smouldering, talking convincingly seems just out of his reach. Dennis Hopper overacts outrageously throughout the flick as the prison warden, whilst Lance Henrikson generally looks rather bored. Dina Meyer puts in a reasonable turn as Purlow, but suffers from the odd bout of over-acting also, particularly when called on to look shocked or scared - she is no Jodie Foster. The dialogue is at times incredibly corny and with the exception of Grover's Jesse, the characters are all fairly cookie-cutter. This is possibly worth a rental for those in need of a B-Grade horror fix, or who fancy a bit of a laugh over the silly plot, corny dialogue, continuity holes or poor acting - but wait for it to appear as a weekly first!

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The video quality of this transfer is surprisingly good for such a dire film.

    The video is presented 16x9 enhanced at 1.78:1 which is likely to be close to the original theatrical aspect ratio. The overall transfer is acceptably sharp and there is no significant grain or pixelization evident.

    Black levels are deep and solid with no significant low level noise. Shadow detail too is quite satisfactory throughout. Colours are quite solidly rendered although the palette is somewhat restricted to dusty reds in the desert and lots of dirty green and grey in the prison. Overall the colours look quite natural and there is no evidence of colour bleeding on show.

    Compression artefacts are not evident. Minor edge enhancement can occasionally be seen if you look really closely, but it is never severe enough to be any kind of distraction. Aliasing was totally absent on my system.

    Film artefacts are present surprisingly frequently, although apart from a brief section of scratches around 10:55, they are generally very fleeting black specks. They are sometimes noticeable, but not annoying.

    There are no subtitles present on the disc.

    This disc is single sided and single layered (DVD 5 format) so there is no layer change present.

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

Audio

    Unlike the video quality, the overall audio transfer is a mixed bag and is not without its problems.

    I listened to the English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448 kbps) audio track in full and sampled the Dolby Digital 2.0 version for comparative purposes. There is a slight but persistent and noticeable flaw with the audio sync in the 5.1 track. It is frequently out of sync with the visuals by a fraction of a second - just enough to be noticeable on close inspection. Examples can be seen at 21:49, 39:36 or 66:17. This loss of sync is peculiar to the 5.1 track - when I checked the above times on the 2.0 track, the sync was flawless. The dialogue is, apart from the sync issue, clean and clear for most of the time, although Grover occasionally mumbles his lines and these can be hard to make out.

    There is a startlingly loud pop to be heard at 68:54. Once again this is only to be found in the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack.

    The original music is credited to Shalini K. Grover (some nepotism at work there?) and Jeff Marsh. Neither of these names are familiar to me, but they have done a reasonable day's work here. The score is occasionally quite good - the thumping drums and stabbing bass help build a tense environment rather well in the early scenes. Unfortunately, it becomes overly melodramatic later in the film and is also generally mixed a little too loud at times (for example in the court scene around 40:00).

    The soundstage is well used with some rather nice surround effects and good use of the rear soundstage. The front speakers deliver a good spread of sound and do so cleanly almost all of the time. The surround speakers are quite active and lively throughout. There are some good thunder effects across the rear stage at 2:08, which whets your appetite for the remainder of the movie. There is also some rather nice cross soundstage panning (for instance at 5:03) and some nice surround effects, for example from the helicopter fly-by at 15:05.

    The subwoofer carries some heavy bass from the soundtrack and is quite active throughout. There is not too much in the way of true LFE activity, but my sub got a reasonable workout nevertheless.

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

Extras

    There are mercifully few extras on this disc.

Menu

    The menu loads with a startling sound effect and then, accompanied by the theme music, allows the options of playing the movie, choosing one of a tiny twelve chapter stops, or access to the sole extra feature:

Theatrical Trailer

    This runs for 1:33 and is presented at 1.33:1 (not 16x9 enhanced) with a Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack encoded at 224 kbps.

R4 vs R1

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

    This DVD does not appear to be available in Region 1 and will be released in Region 2 in January 2004. If you must buy a copy, Region 4 appears to be the sole option at this point in time.

Summary

    Unspeakable is a flawed B-Grade horror which provides a few genuine chills and quite a few more unintentional laughs. Possibly worth a rental for those who have seen every other film of this genre in the video store.

    The video quality is rather good.

    The audio transfer is a mixed bag - some stirring surround blended with poor audio sync.

    The extras are almost non-existent.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Daniel O'Donoghue (You think my bio is funny? Funny how?)
Saturday, December 27, 2003
Review Equipment
DVDHarmony DVD Video/Audio PAL Progressive, using Component output
DisplaySanyo PLV-Z2 WXGA projector. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 720p.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationOnkyo TX-SR600 with DD-EX and DTS-ES
SpeakersJensenSPX-9 fronts, Jensen SPX-13 Centre, Jensen SPX-5 surrounds, Jensen SPX-17 subwoofer

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add)
Unspeakable - el em