XII (Blu-ray) (2008)
Trailer-The Descent 2
|Year Of Production||2008|
|RSDL / Flipper||Dual Layered||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||4||Directed By||Michael A. Nickles|
Michael Leydon Campbell
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||
English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 (2304Kb/s)
English DTS HD Master Audio 5.1 (2304Kb/s)
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||1.78:1|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.78:1||Miscellaneous|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
"You have been summoned"
XII is a "B" grade horror movie that starts quite promisingly but soon adopts predictable slasher-style clichés. After a nicely surprising murder involving a recently married couple and a red truck, we find FBI agent Naughton (Steven Brand) inspecting a horribly disfigured body following an autopsy. The victim has had his face peeled off - apparently whilst hanging upside down and still alive. Hmm - do we have an Ed Gein/Leatherface style murderer on the loose? Naughton is instructed to drive to a small town where we first meet our heroines, Claire (Emily Hardy) and the self absorbed Vicki (Mercedes McNab) who are waitresses in the local cafe. Claire has a visit at work from her sometime boy-friend Shane (Josh Nuncio) who tells her that someone in a red truck has tried to kill him. Shane has got a gun to protect himself and also wants them both to leave town and start a new life and leave his troubled past behind. Claire however is not convinced that Shane is able to change and is doubtful about his story.
In the meantime Naughton arranges to meet local deputy Sheriff Kent (Nick Searcy) at the cafe to ask about some townspeople in a list who are perhaps connected in some way. Kent is in charge whilst the Sheriff is on leave but Naughton is reluctant to tell him why he is querying the names. Shortly after these events we see Naughton make a surprising exit and then, via Shane, we see the modus-operandi of our killer in quite a graphic way. With Kent now suspicious about a missing elderly lady, and following the previous talk with Naughton and information from Claire, Kent realises that the people under question were all jury member at a particular trial. Kent, with Claire and Vicki in tow, decides to look for another jury member who is apparently a drug dealer living on the outskirts of town. (I'd have thought a felon would be excluded from jury service but anyway ....). As you'd expect events take a turn for the worse from here on as our girls fight for their lives against a deranged killer.
After a promising start XII rambles along in predictable fashion interspersed with some admittedly nice, if gruesome, murders. Fortunately the acting is all very capable with Hardy in particular quite likeable and convincing as the waitress thrown into the deep end. The gory effects are quite well done given the modest budget although not particularly scary for anyone familiar with modern day slasher films. The main problem with this movie's plot is that the viewer really has very little idea of what motivates the killer and why he is mutilating the victims. All we have is a couple of lines of dialogue and the opening credit sequence which provides some clues. Fortunately the disc back cover notes also give an insight as to what is happening. The audience shouldn't really have to research after the movie to find out these major plot points.
As written and directed by Michael A. Nickles XII isn't a bad movie but could have been so much better. Given the short running time more work should have been done in developing the plot and providing more background to events. Fortunately there is enough here to maintain interest, but not enough to make this a title to seek out.
XII is the headliner movie included as a double-header disc along with Dark Ride.
This film is presented in 1.78:1 aspect which seems to be the original aspect ratio. This is an adequate transfer but not a great example of high definition video. There are no particular faults in the video presentation, however it was really no better than what you would expect in a good quality DVD. Blacks and colours were good with night scenes well defined. Flesh tones were accurate and the blood looked realistic. There was some digital noise throughout although it was not particularly annoying.
Overall the video quality is rated as good. The picture detail was quite grainy and not up to high definition standards. There were no film artefacts.
This audio track overall is very good. The default DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 at around 2,300Kb/s delivers a good soundstage with directional effects used effectively. The alternative Dolby Digital TrueHD 5.1 at around 2,300Kb/s is very similar to the DTS offering however the DTS version is slightly louder with the LFE channel in particular a bit punchier. I therefore preferred the DTS track.
There were no audio synchronisation issues and voices were relatively clear and easy to understand. There were no clicks or dropouts or any other audio problems that I noticed. The front sound stage was good with main voices coming from the centre channel and effects used appropriately from all directions. Surround channel use was used successfully to complement the action. The subwoofer was also used to good effect when crashes and bangs were required. At times there was a low growl coming from the sub that helped build tension. The musical backing score complemented the on screen action well and was not intrusive.
|Surround Channel Use|
The menu featured static background with movie choice shown.
Trailers for Icon Entertainment distributed films The Descent 2, Infestation, Pandorum, Triangle.
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
This Blu-ray twin movie offering does not seem to be duplicated elsewhere however there are XII (also known as Twelve) movie only versions available on Region 2 DVD. The US version does not appear to be available at time of writing. The UK version however contains a feature commentary, behind the scenes featurette, exploding head "breakdown", and makeup effects gallery. If these additions interest you then importing from the UK might be worth it.
XII borrows heavily from other better made horror movies and almost succeeds in being quite good. Director Michael A. Nickles was obviously constrained by a tight budget but really should have spent more time on plot exposition and developing the characters. There are no extras as such and I'd rate this movie as good for a rental only.
The video quality is good. The audio quality is very good. Extras are confined to the "bonus" movie Dark Ride and some trailers.
|DVD||Denon DVD-3910 and Panasonic BD-35, using HDMI output|
|Display||Panasonic 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 Decoder||Built in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Digital Video Essentials (PAL).|
|Amplification||denon AVR-4311 pre-out to Elektra Theatron 7 channel amp|
|Speakers||B&W LCR600 centre and 603s3 mains, Niles in ceiling surrounds, SVS PC-Ultra Sub, Definitive Technology Supercube II Sub|