Suburban Mayhem (Blu-ray) (2006)

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Released 8-Jun-2010

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Black Comedy None
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 2006
Running Time 85:34 (Case: 92)
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Programme
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Paul Goldman
Studio
Distributor
Icon Entertainment Starring Emily Barclay
Michael Dorman
Robert Morgan
Anthony Hayes
Laurence Breuls
Steve Bastoni
Mia Wasikowska
Geneviève Lemon
Madeleine Jaine
Susan Prior
Stuart Spence
Alison Cox
Case Standard Blu-ray
RPI $24.95 Music Mick Harvey


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Unknown English DTS HD Master Audio 5.1 (1536Kb/s)
English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 (384Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 1080i
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

    Way back in June 2007 I reviewed the DVD edition of Suburban Mayhem - click here to read the review. The following synopsis has been taken directly from that review.

    Suburban Mayhem is the third film from Australian director, Paul Goldman. It follows his very different 2003 film, The Night We Called It A Day and Australian Rules in 2002. The film is also quite an impressive debut for screenwriter, Alice Bell, who literally turns the tables on pleasant suburban conventions in this film.

    Suburban Mayhem opens with the funeral service of John Skinner (Robert Morgan). As we later discover, John was brutally murdered in his own home in a wicked act of betrayal. His daughter, Katrina (Emily Barclay) sits mournfully in the front row of the chapel wearing a tight mini skirt. She sniggers as she reads an incoming text message on her mobile phone, which incurs contemptuous looks from other mourners. This very dark and unsettling scene sets the premise of the entire film.

    From here, the narrative of Suburban Mayhem unfolds around a series of interviews within a "documentary" about John's murder and those involved in his life. The story leading up to the murder and its aftermath is launched from each of these segments and works quite well in revealing the plot.

    Katrina Skinner is a young single mother, living with her devoted father in working class, Newcastle. Katrina is highly sexed, self-obsessed and maliciously cruel. Even though she has a boyfriend, Rusty (Michael Dorman), she uses her heightened level of sexuality to lure gullible men in an effort to achieve any outcome she desires - in fact, she will use anyone for a purpose. All this puts her at odds with her father, who wants Katrina to take more responsibility in her life, find a job and take better care of her baby daughter, Bailee.

    Katrina charms a young and naive beautician, Lilya (Mia Wasikowska) and introduces her to the other side of clean living suburbia. She takes Lilya on a whirlwind introduction into a world of police confrontation, shoplifting and drugs. There is another purpose to this mismatched friendship though; Lilya has also been chosen by Katrina as an ideal babysitter for Bailee.

    At the crux of Katrina's very existence is an unhealthy obsession with her older brother, Danny (Laurence Breuls). Danny is serving a lengthy term in prison for the vicious murder of a convenience store attendant. She is consumed with getting enough money together to launch a legal appeal, which will hopefully have her brother released from prison much sooner than expected.

    John finally has enough of Katrina's irresponsible ways and announces that he is cutting off his financial support and taking custody of Bailee. In turn, Katrina sets in motion a most deceitful and malevolent plan. She seduces one of Danny's friends, Kenny (Anthony Hayes), who is also intellectually handicapped. Kenny instantly falls in love with Katrina and becomes a major player in her deadly plan. However, there is one element to her plan that even Katrina doesn't know about.

    Suburban Mayhem picked up twelve nominations at the 2006 AFI Awards, winning three of those awards for Best Lead Actress (Emily Barclay), Best Supporting Actor (Anthony Hayes) and Best Original Music Score (Mick Harvey).

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Transfer Quality

Video

     Like the DVD edition, Suburban Mayhem is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, which is 16x9 enhanced. I could not confirm the original aspect ratio, however it is likely to be around 1.85:1. The Blu-ray has been encoded using MPEG-4 AVC and is presented with a 1080i transfer.

     While there is a distinct improvement over the standard def image on the DVD, the Blu-ray HD image isn't exactly stunning. The film uses video footage at times to convey the documentary narrative. This footage was shot on HD video stock, played back on a high-resolution monitor and then re-filmed off the monitor. The occasional softness on the DVD is still evident here, but generally the transfer exhibits a decent level of sharpness. Blacks were clean and free from low-level-noise. Shadow detail was also excellent.

     The Blu-ray edition shines in the area of colour. Colours are vibrant, natural and well balanced. Colours in the video footage displayed a deliberate subdued appearance. There were no significant film-to-video artefacts noticed. Film artefacts were non-existent.

     The only addition to this Blu-ray edition (which is not present on the DVD), is English subtitles for the hearing impaired. They are accurate and easily legible. These subtitles need to be selected directly using your remote control, because there is no option to select them on the main menu.

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

Audio

     There are two audio tracks on the Blu-ray - English DTS Master Audio 5.1 (1536Kb/s) and Dolby True HD 5.1 (384Kb/s).

     Dialogue quality was outstanding throughout, even at low volume and audio sync appeared to be very accurate. The original music in the film is credited to Bad Seeds drummer, Mick Harvey. The soundtrack is predominately a mix of rebellious rock, which suits the mood of the film perfectly. The actress Toni Collette receives a music credit for vocals on incidental music. The original music is combined with music from various rock bands including, Magic Dirt, Spazzys and Little Birdy.

     Without resorting to overkill, both mixes deliver an excellent balance of directional sound and music across the surround channels. The subwoofer was constantly active, emphasizing bass elements in the sound design and the music.

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

Extras

Menu

     The main menu is very basic, 16x9 enhanced, static and silent. The menu needs to be especially selected on your remote control to appear. The disc loads directly to the film and initially bypasses the menu. Not that it particularly matters, because the only available option is "play feature". There are no extras on this Blu-ray edition. This will be a huge disappointment for those who don't own the previous DVD edition.

     This Blu-ray edition of Suburban Mayhem follows a disappointing trend with many titles from Icon Entertainment, under the Dendy banner. I refer to these bare bones releases on Blu-ray with absolutely no extras. This is in contrast with previous, and still available DVD, editions of the same films from the same distributor with a host of quality extras. I really have no idea why, at the very least, these same extras couldn't be duplicated on the Blu-ray release. Despite the obvious improvements in image and sound quality from the DVD editions, it makes it hard to recommend purchasing the Blu-ray.

R4 vs R1

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

    At the time of writing this review, there is no other Blu-ray edition of Suburban Mayhem available.

Summary

     Audience reaction to Suburban Mayhem is diverse - the subject matter alone guarantees that. The film is definitely confronting and at times is downright disturbing. But there is also an underlying element of humour in the film, albeit a very dark one. Suburban Mayhem is an audacious film. It is also clearly one of the best Australian films of 2006.

     The video and audio transfers are both very good.

     As previously mentioned, the omission of all extras from the DVD release makes this Blu-ray edition hard to recommend. Personally, I would stick with the DVD Special Edition.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Steve Crawford (Tip toe through my bio)
Friday, December 31, 2010
Review Equipment
DVDPanasonic DMP-BD35 Blu Ray Player, using HDMI 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

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add)
Why oh why 1080i - John N REPLY POSTED