Infestation (Blu-ray) (2009)

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Released 6-Jul-2010

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Horror Audio Commentary-Director Kyle Rankin
Featurette-Making Of
Theatrical Trailer
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 2009
Running Time 91:05
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Kyle Rankin
Studio
Distributor

Icon Entertainment
Starring Chris Marquette
Brooke Nevin
Kinsey Packard
E. Quincy Sloan
Wesley Thompson
Linda Park
Deborah Geffner
Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI ? Music Steven Gutheinz


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English DTS HD Master Audio 5.1 (1920Kb/s)
English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 1080p
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 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

"You will be infected"

     Remember those giant bug B-grade classic films of the past? "Horror" titles such as Them!, Kingdom of The Spiders, Tarantula, Black Scorpion were a popcorn movie staple of my youth and featured occasionally on late night TV. In the days before video players the occasional surfacing of a schlock-horror movie was a case of great anticipation and something to be enjoyed - no matter how really bad they were. Fast forward to 2009 and CGI wizardry has replaced dodgy miniatures in this distinctly B-grade bug film Infestation. With Starship Troopers remaining as one of my favourite films of all time it was with some anticipation that Infestation was loaded into the Blu-ray player with chips and beer on hand.

     Infestation begins with slacker office worker Cooper (Chris Marquette) awakening to find himself enclosed in a cocoon like substance in what used to be his office. After freeing himself and vomiting a white-ish substance he comes under attack from giant bugs which resemble cockroaches with huge jaws. After he frees fellow workers the group find that their whole city has been taken over by a variety of bugs which arrived on a rogue asteroid - all seemingly hell-bent on farming the available humans. In common with all "disaster" movies the band of survivors encompasses a broad range of categories. There's the romantic interest Sara (Brooke Nevin), black guy Albert (Wesley Thompson), Albert's physically imposing but deaf son Hugo (E. Quincy Sloan), vampy weather girl Cindy (Kinsey Packard who also gets to do a gratuitous nude scene) amongst others.

     Cooper decides their best course of action would be to seek shelter with his father Ethan (Ray Wise) who has a cache of guns and a bomb shelter. As expected the route will be treacherous with a few twists in the trail and hazards to overcome. In true schlock horror style it's a question of when, and not if, our hapless wanderers get bumped off by the marauding insects or get taken away by giant flying wasp-like bugs to a distant nest for goodness-knows what purpose. Ethan provides most of the comic relief in this movie and his inclusion moves the mood of the movie quite significantly into farcical territory. That being said there is an outstandingly funny sight gag involving a small fluffy dog that had me laughing out aloud. After a few more deaths the mood turns serious again as our hero's quest turns to saving his new girlfriend and ultimately the world.

     This movie is written and directed firmly with tongue-in-cheek. There are frequent nods to horror movies of the past (for example The Thing), and although there are plenty of deaths they are not portrayed gruesomely, and are often accompanied with humour. The plot has holes you could push a giant bug through but - hey - who could believe the story anyway? The CGI effects were quite good for a low budget film however there were fairly obviously fake props being used on occasion for specific scenes (for example it is hard not to imagine a stage-hand holding the bug pincers just out of camera shot). The ending was a bit of a let-down but overall this is quite a fun romp and good popcorn-fodder for the horror enthusiast.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    This Blu-ray film is presented in 1080p and in its cinematic 1.85:1 aspect. Shot on a comparatively low budget most of the scenes were quite grainy and not as sharp as we've come to expect from the Blu-ray format. Indoor scenes had a distinctly video-tape like quality which I find unappealing but there were no particular faults in the presentation itself. The colours are bright enough without being vibrant and dark sequences were suitably well defined. Flesh tones are good in close-up with no patchiness or uneven detail. Overall the video quality, while not outstanding for Blu-ray, is still very good and appropriate for this type of film.

    This is a single layer disc.

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

Audio

     The default DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track is encoded at a variable rate of around 2,000 Kb/s with an English subtitle option available. The Dolby Digital 5.1 track encoded at 448 Kb/s was selected periodically to compare with the default. Surround effects were used quite effectively with bugs scuttling behind and above you and well used LFE action emanating from the subwoofer at appropriate times. I noticed however that voice synchronisation was often not quite right and so suspect the ADR dubbing was not done very assiduously. Subtitles appeared to match the spoken dialogue accurately. The music score by Steven Gutheinz complements the movie well.

     The front sound stage was very good with main voices coming from the centre channel and effects from the left and right and surround speakers. Surround channel use was extensive and used appropriately. The subwoofer use was used well to complement the explosions and effects.

     This audio track is not reference quality but is more than serviceable. The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 is superior to the Dolby Digital offering but both tracks are very similar.

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

Extras

Menu

     The menu featured looping video and audio with animated bugs. Menu design uses a 1960s horror movie style quite effectively.

Director's Commentary

     Director Kyle Rankin discusses the creation and filming of Infestation including the difficulties of shooting in Bulgaria whilst trying to represent an American city. Contrary to many commentaries Rankin does not describe the on-screen action too much but focuses on background information and reveals a lot of insights into the making of the movie. This commentary is better than average and well worth a listen.

The Making of Infestation (20:10)

     1.33:1 video aspect with Dolby Digital 2.0 audio at 192 Kb/s. A somewhat interesting featurette where director Rankin and others describe shooting in Bulgaria, putting the plot together, designing the bugs and special effects, and general aspects of shooting. Behind the scene action is interspersed in the commentary.

Theatrical Trailer (1:52)

     1.78:1 video aspect with Dolby Digital 2.0 audio at 192 Kb/s.

R4 vs R1

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

    All releases appear to be identical apart from languages and subtitle options.

Summary

     Infestation is neither particularly scary nor funny however overall it's quite a pleasant romp into the giant bug genre which has been neglected over the years. Whilst not in the same league as Starship Troopers it is not a bad attempt with reasonable special effects and a solid ensemble of B-grade actors. Extras are limited for a Blu-ray release. Recommended.

     The video quality is very good. The audio quality is very good. Extras are only fair for a Blu-ray release.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Mike B (read my bio)
Monday, August 23, 2010
Review Equipment
DVDDenon DVD-3910 and Panasonic BD-35, using HDMI output
DisplayPanasonic TH-58PZ850A. Calibrated with Digital Video Essentials (PAL). This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Digital Video Essentials (PAL).
AmplificationDenon AVR-3808 pre-out to Elektra Theatron 7 channel amp
SpeakersB&W LCR600 centre and 603s3 mains, Niles in ceiling surrounds, SVS PC-Ultra Sub

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