The Plague (Clive Barker's) (2006)

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Released 20-Nov-2006

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Horror Menu Animation
Audio Commentary
Deleted Scenes
Trailer-Da Vinci Code, Ultraviolet, Hollow man 2
Trailer-I'll Always Know What You Did Last Summer, Population 436
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 2006
Running Time 84:30
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Ads Then Menu
Region Coding 2,4,5 Directed By Hal Masonberg
Studio
Distributor

Sony Pictures Home Entertain
Starring James Van Der Beek
Ivana Milicevic
Brad Hunt
Joshua Close
Brittany Scobie
Bradley Sawatzky
John P. Connolly
Dee Wallace
Case ?
RPI $39.95 Music None Given


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
German Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.30:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio Unknown Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
German
French
Spanish
Portuguese
Arabic
Hindi
Turkish
English for the Hearing Impaired
English Audio Commentary
French Audio Commentary
German Audio Commentary
Spanish Audio Commentary
Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

    “At approximately 5:00 Eastern Standard Time, all children around the world under the age of nine have for some unknown reason been cut off from their surroundings. Though they appear to be stable for the moment, they exhibit signs of deep catatonia and are unable to communicate.”

Ominous newscast

    As millions of distraught parents try to come to terms with their children convulsing and foaming at the mouth, doctors and scientists around the globe search desperately for a cure. However, the children are unresponsive to any treatment, so families and society learn to adapt to the catastrophe. Then, leaping forward 10 years, all the children miraculously and simultaneously emerge from their sleep-like state once the population of Earth reaches its critical population mass. With a glazed look in their eyes and a hungering for souls, they set out to re-balance the world’s overabundance of humans.

    With Clive Barker’s name proudly presented in the title, I felt a sense of nervous excitement when I pressed play on my remote. Even the fact that brooding goody-two-shoes James Van Der Beek (Dawson’s Creek) had the starring role didn’t dampen my enthusiasm. Besides, Dee Wallace-Stone is always a pleasure to watch regardless of her choice of films since The Howling.

    All was going well – the buffed-up Van Der Beek was embracing the alpha male role with mature intensity and the creepy, mysterious nature of the collective illness and its zombie-like after-effects was quite chilling.

    My heightened state, however, turned to despair at around the 30-minute mark. What starts out as a fascinating tale tapping into deep-seated fears of innocence turned sour and the Gaia hypothesis in action ends up plunging head-long into a narrative dripping with earth-mother wetness and melodramatics. Rubbing salt into an already open wound, Dee Wallace-Stone’s performance as a distraught mother is so histrionic and her actions so stupid that her character garners absolutely no sympathy. Even Van Der Beek seems unclear about what to do now that some weird mysticism has crept into the plot. He simply races around sweaty and unshaven from one dramatic situation to the next. A truly wasted opportunity.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The Plague is presented in a rather tight aspect ratio of 2.30:1 and is 16x9 enhanced. In keeping with the time-honoured tradition of movie misfires receiving gorgeous transfers, that’s certainly the case here.

    Sharp, glossy and beautifully lit, the transfer for The Plague is grain-free and demonstrates no noticeable artefacting. Shadow detail is penetrating and fully complemented by solid and appealing black levels.

    Colours are lush and vibrant and the print is as clean as a newborn baby’s bottom.

    The white subtitles are easy to read and virtually word-for-word to the spoken dialogue.

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

Audio

    While the score is rather routine, the 5.1 mix adds a pleasing aural enhancement to the clichéd telemovie-like meanderings used to heighten and then bookend the many dramatic scenes.

    There are a few effective directional effects such as the whispering (35:00, 47:38) emanating from the rears and a little bit later when a duct grating opens behind two of the characters during a sequence in the hospital.

    The front-centred dialogue is crisp and clear.

    The subwoofer is called upon occasionally to add a slight edge to the bass.

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

Extras

Commentary with actors Brad Hunt (Sam), Joshua Close (Kip) and Editor Ed Marx

    These three have a great rapport which makes for an enjoyable listen. While the two actors delight in playfully taking the p*** out of Van Der Beek for most of the commentary, Ed Marx offers some insights into the unsung art of film editing.

    Evidently, the original Director was sacked and Hal Masonberg was brought in. Of course, this is not discussed in the commentary.

    I listened to the commentary with the sub-titles switched on, but then became obsessed with how many times the participants said - “you know” – either mid or at the end of a sentence. I had to force myself to stop counting after 30 minutes, which ironically is around the same time the film loses its footing.

Deleted scenes (18:15)

    The preacher welcomes Tom (1:16)

    Tom and David talk (3:26)

    David feeds Eric (2:24)

    Tom and Sam reunion (4:00)

    Tom and Jean in hospital (1:06)

    Jean nurses Tom (1:38)

    Claire kills (1:31)

    Jean and Tom are surrounded (3:34)

    You don’t need a commentary track to inform you why most of the above were left on the cutting room floor. Apart from the rather intense Clair kills, where she suffocates a little girl with her bare hands, the rest are melodramatic scenes allowing the actors to emote to soap-operatic dialogue.

Trailers

    The Da Vinci Code

    Ultraviolet

    Hollow Man 2

    I’ll Always Know What You Did Last Summer

    Population 436

R4 vs R1

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

    Apart from trailer, subtitle and language differences, the Region 1 Sony Pictures edition is comparable to our own.

Summary

    Poaching its sub-narrative themes from Village of the Damned, Night of the Living Dead and Children of the Corn, The Plague had the potential to be a worthy addition to my horror library. Perhaps it was a case of too many cooks spoiling the broth - the film credits 14 Producers, including Clive Barker - that led to the film losing its direction after the first half hour.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Robert Winter (read my dead sexy bio)
Wednesday, November 29, 2006
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DVR-640H, using S-Video output
DisplayYamaha 106cm Plasma. Calibrated with Sound & Home Theater Tune Up. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with THX Optimizer.
AmplificationPioneer VSX-816K
Speakers2 x Bose Speakers and 4 NX-S200 Yamaha mini-speakers.

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