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Overall Grade
2.5 stars

(click linked text below to jump to related section of the review)

The Movie Itself
1.5 Stars
HD Video Quality
3 Stars
HD Audio Quality
4 Stars
Supplements
1.5 Stars
High-Def Extras
0 Stars
Bottom Line
Skip It

Dead Shadows

Street Date:
April 29th, 2014
Reviewed by:
Review Date: 1
June 19th, 2014
Movie Release Year:
2012
Studio:
Scream Factory
Length:
76 Minutes
MPAA Rating:
Unrated
Release Country
United States

The Movie Itself: Our Reviewer's Take

'Dead Shadows' is the first filmmaking opportunity that writer Vincent Jule and David Cholewa received and even though the word SyFy is nowhere to be seen on the box art or in the credits, this horror film screams its logo. From the plot to the monsters to the cheesy dialogue and special effects, this has all the inner workings of a low budget made-for-tv type of film, especially the SyFy network. However, this movie comes from Scream Factory.

It's as if Jule and Cholewa couldn't lock down a gig directing at one of these companies, so they took off for France and made a French movie with zombies, spider-women, and outer space comets, but alas they were indeed born French. It's not all bad though. There are some decent camera techniques and an overall good set up for a story, but the execution was less than thrilling. You'll find yourself laughing more often than being scared, something in which the writer and director did not mean to happen. But when you have a naked woman with giant spider legs trying to seduce somebody, you can't help but laugh.

'Dead Shadows' is indeed in French with English subtitles and starts out fairly good as we see some sort of anomaly in space that spits out a comet that glows from the inside. It heads towards Earth and once it enters the Earth's atmosphere, it starts spraying dust particles that land on suburban home where a young Chris is asleep to be awoken by some strange noises outside. We immediately know that this comet is bad news and has done something to our planet. The young Chris then witnesses his father killing his mother and then taking his own life.

We cut to ten years later where the older Chris (Fabian Wolfrom) is working as an IT guy from home and plays video games in his apartment and rarely speaks to anyone. His neighbor across the hall is a beautiful girl named Claire (Blandine Marmigere), who has an explosive relationship with her boyfriend. One day, Chris and Claire being to talk and it is hinted that the rest of the film will be these two taking on a city full of monsters.

Meanwhile, another comet comes for Earth, but this time, it affects almost everyone, and the good citizens of Earth begin to mutate into something that resembles a zombie. But Cholewa and Jule add the monster aspect to them too, so these zombie-like creatures can morph their limbs into tentacles, claws, and yes, even spider legs. Now Claire and Chris must survive this apocalyptic landscape. Luckily they enlist the help of their fellow neighbor John (John Fallon), who carries around a samurai sword for fun in everyday life. There are a few moments in 'Dead Shadows' that were genuinely creepy and scary, for instance the scene where Chris comes across an older lady in a garden, and she starts talking to him in some strange voice. But that only last for a few seconds, but was very effective.

But Cholewa and Jule stuck to the 'on the nose' type of horror with blood and guts, and cliches. Speaking about the gore here, it's all done with CG, and very badly I might add. It's downright laughable. That all being said, you can tell that Cholewa and Jule really love horror films and were super excited to receive the opportunity to make their own. But as the film itself goes, it garners more laughs than scares.

The Video: Sizing Up the Picture

'Dead Shadows' comes with a 1080p HD transfer presented in 2.35:1 aspect ratio. The film was digitally shot and made on the cheap side of things, so there are a few problems that creep up from time to time, especially during the darker scenes. Detail is sharp and vivid during the well-lit scenes that reveal wrinkles, makeup blemishes, and scars on the actor's faces quite nicely. But in the lower lit scenes or nighttime scenes, detail is almost non-existent.

The image becomes fuzzy and is difficult to make out certain things. This is perhaps to cover up the terrible CG special effects. Colors don't seem to pop off screen at any point in time and seem to be muted down. The contrast isn't great either and makes the entire image looks darker than it needs to be. Black levels aren't great either, but skin tones look natural. There are some minor instances of video noise and aliasing, but other than that, no other problems were detected. This is not exactly the best looking video presentation.

The Audio: Rating the Sound

This release comes with a lossless DTS-HD 5.1 audio mix in French. It also comes in a 2.0 stereo mix along with its English counterparts. This audio track is definitely better than the above video presentation and fits this low budget horror film quite well. Dialogue is always clear and easy to follow. There were no instances of an pops, cracks, or hissing. The sound effects are well-balanced and come out the surround speakers nicely.

Sure, some of the sound effects sound cartoony, but at least they are loud and robust. The ambient noises of people screaming or other creatures scampering around are also very good here too. The score and soundtrack mixes modern music with a moody score that always sets the tone for each scene. The LFE is good and the dynamic range is fairly wide. This is not an audio track that will rattle your walls or bones, but it's decent enough to keep you interested.

The Supplements: Digging Into the Good Stuff

Interview with Director David Cholewa (HD, 34 mins.) - Here is a long interview with Cholewa who seems to be sitting on his couch at home talking into a camera straight on for 34 minutes about making the film and his influences. The questions he answers pop up on screen in a text in German for some reason, but he answers in French with English subtitles. Clearly, he is a fan of horror films.
 
Making of Special Effects (HD, 4 mins.) - Here are a few scenes from the film that play out to one of the songs from the movie with the special effects being over-layed for us to see just how some of the bigger effects were done.  There are no interviews here. 
 
Deleted Scenes (HD, 1 min.) - More like one deleted scene where a woman is having sex and a monster comes out of her mouth. The visual effect here is laughable. The other two scenes aren't really scenes, but outtakes of a limb falling off and somebody standing up while the director messes with the contrast. This whole feature lasts less than a minute.
 
Unfinished VFX Scene (HD, 1 min.) - Again, here is a scene with an unfinished visual effect shot trying to be put into the movie. Nothing really to see.
 
Trailers (HD, 3 mins.) - A couple of trailers for the film.

HD Bonus Content: Any Exclusive Goodies in There?

There are no HD exclsuives.

Final Thoughts

'Dead Shadows' isn't the horror film we were all wanting it to be. The beginning of the film started out well, but then it became more about the use of terrible CG effects and even worse CG created blood. The dialogue and acting aren't great either. The video isn't up to par, but the audio track is decent. Only one extra is really worth looking at here too. If you want a 'so bad it's good' movie then consider renting this one, otherwise, feel free to skip this one all together.

Technical Specs

  • Blu-ray

Video Resolution/Codec

  • 1080p/AVC MPEG-4

Aspect Ratio(s)

  • 2.35:1

Audio Formats

  • French DTS-HD MA 5.1
  • French DTS-HD MA 2.0
  • English DTS-HD MA 5.1
  • English DTS-HD MA 2.0

Subtitles/Captions

  • English

Supplements

  • Making-Of Special Effects Featurette
  • Interview With Director David Cholewa
  • Deleted Scenes
  • Theatrical and Teaser Trailers

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