Sauna (2008)

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Released 6-Oct-2009

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Horror Main Menu Audio & Animation
Featurette-Making Of-Making of Sauna
Theatrical Trailer-Sauna
Teaser Trailer-Madman Trailers
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2008
Running Time 79:53 (Case: 85)
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Antti-Jussi Annila
Studio
Distributor
Bronson Club
Madman Entertainment
Starring Ville Virtanen
Tommi Eronen
Viktor Klimenko
Rain Tolk
Kari Ketonen
Sonja Petäjäjärvi
Vilhelmiina Virkkunen
Taisto Reimaluoto
Ismo Kallio
Kati Outinen
Dick Idman
Ivo Kubecka
Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI $29.95 Music Panu Aaltio


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Unknown Finnish Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Finnish Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

    Sauna is an original and intensely eerie horror film from Finnish director, Antti-Jussi Annila. The film turned many heads at international film festivals in 2009 and now makes its arrival to DVD.

    The film is set in 1595 at the end of the 25 year war between Russia and Sweden. Two groups of cartographers from the opposing countries have been sent out into the wilderness to define the borders of their respective nations. These maps will become a legacy to the thousands of lives lost in the long and bloody war.

    The small Swedish delegation consists of two brothers, Erik (Ville Virtanen) and Knut (Tommi Eronen). Erik is a veteran of the war and his cruel and brutal nature has not declined since. He openly boasts about the precise number of people he has killed and is more than capable of increasing the tally.

    The film opens in a remote location. The brothers are offered food and shelter by a man and his teenage daughter. For reasons of petty ideology, Erik brutally stabs the man to death, while (for her own safety) Knut locks the girl in the cellar. Before they move on, Erik promises Knut that he will release the girl and set her free.

    Time passes and the Russian mapping party joins the expedition. There remains some deep-seated animosity between the factions - a certain legacy from the long war.

    As they move into uncharted swamp land, Knut sees visions of the young girl from the cellar and thinks she must be following them. It is then that Erik confesses to him that he did not release the girl - he left her to die slowly in the cellar.

    As the two parties move deeper into the swamp they encounter a strange village. The meek inhabitants of this small village hold a secret of terrible proportions. Within the isolation of the watery swamp sits an ominous looking stone sauna. This sauna is said to wash away sins - but at a cost.

    Initially the interest from the mapmakers revolved around whether the village was located on Swedish or Russian soil - both sides trying to claim rights. However the revelation of truth behind this village will ensure that neither country will ever want to lay claim to it.

    Those expecting a slash and gore fest might be slightly disappointed with Sauna. With a very tidy running time of 80 minutes (PAL speed up), the film is well paced and delivers with an abundance of brooding atmosphere. Iiro Küttner's screenplay also retains some mystery, ensuring plenty of audience speculation. 

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Transfer Quality

Video

    Sauna is presented in the correct aspect ratio of 2.35:1, which is 16x9 enhanced.

    Overall, the transfer looks amazing. The image has consistent sharpness and clarity, with just a hint of film grain evident during a couple of scenes. Blacks were bold and clean. Shadow detail was excellent.

    The colour palette is heavily biased with muted cold colours. The film has been suitably graded to display these colours in full glory. A good deal of the atmosphere in this film can be contributed to this limited cold colour palette. These colours set an eerie mood and are perfectly balanced on the DVD.

    There were no MPEG artefacts evident in the transfer. Film-to-video artefacts were not an issue and film artefacts were non-existent.

    The only available subtitles are in English. They are removable and easily legible in bold yellow.

    This is a DVD 9, dual layer disc. The layer change is well placed at 59:14.

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

Audio

    There are two audio tracks available on the DVD, Finnish Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s) and Finnish Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s).

    Although I have no understanding of the language, the dialogue quality sounded fine.

    There were no apparent issues with audio sync.

    The original music score for Sauna is credited to Panu Aaltio. This is an excellent score - perfectly dramatic and brooding, without becoming overwhelming. It is also quite a beautiful score, with the music over the end credits adding to the films confronting finale.

     Although I didn't notice much precise sound placement, the surround channels were very active with music and ambient sound.

    The subwoofer enhanced bass elements in the score and the occasional scare.

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

Extras

    

Menu

    The main menu is nicely animated and is 16x9 enhanced. It also features a sample of music and sound from the film.

Featurette - Making of Sauna (14:43)

    As the title suggests, this is a short behind-the-scenes look at the making of the film. It also features brief interviews with a few cast and crew members.

Original Theatrical Trailer - Sauna (1:22)

Madman Trailers

    Infection (1:36)

    The Grudge (2:07)

R4 vs R1

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

    There is a R1 edition of Sauna, released by MPI Home Video in October 2009. This release is similar to the R4 Madman edition, with just a couple of minor differences.

The R1 MPI edition misses out on -

Making of Sauna featurette & Madman Trailers   

The R4 Madman edition misses out on -

Spanish & English (for the hearing impaired) subtitles

Unless the subtitles are an important factor, there seems no reason to track down an imported copy of the film.

Summary

    Sauna is an original and brooding horror film from Finland. Iiro Küttner's screenplay leaves plenty for an audience to discuss and contemplate.

    The transfers are excellent.

    The limited extras are disappointing. 

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Steve Crawford (Tip toe through my bio)
Saturday, January 09, 2010
Review Equipment
DVDJVC XV-N412, using Component output
DisplayHitachi 106cm Plasma Display 42PD5000MA (1024x1024). Calibrated with THX Optimizer. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080i.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with THX Optimizer.
AmplificationPanasonic SA-HE70 80W Dolby Digital and DTS
SpeakersFronts: Jensen SPX7 Rears: Jensen SPX4 Centre: Jensen SPX13 Subwoofer: Jensen SPX17

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