The Good Book is an ambitious 1997 SOV thriller about a dystopian future in which an IT tech must confront a supernatural deity who wants to destroy the internet because it’s robbing people of their humanity and faith. Part cautionary tale and part theological examination, the film swings for the fences as an intense crisis of faith set in a post-apocalyptic wasteland. The Blu-ray arrives with a respectable A/V package and plenty of special features for fans to dig into after the feature. Worth a Look
“Our floppies aren’t backing up!”
In the near future, Earth is suffering from an economic and environmental disaster. The GVC (Geographically Viable Control) forms living zones in America, taking over technology and all governing bodies. They advise people to “Stay inside and live solely off the internet”. Only trained employees of the GVC can be outside. Those who have lived outside have undergone massive mental and physical changes, rendering them a sort of mutant zombie creature.
The film follows Joseph (Bryan Campbell, Joe Wilkinson), a computer service tech making house calls to those now disconnected from the internet. Driving his Mad Max-inspired car through the wasteland, Joseph blasts away outsider mutants on his way to restart modems and plug-in monitors. Lately, he's been experiencing strange visions of a man through the static of this TV. The visions intensify forcing him to meet this mysterious person (Barry Gerdsen) who claims to be an omniscient deity who has been studying humans. In short, he wants Joseph to destroy the internet with a virus “Because technology is replacing me in the hearts of men.”
Made during the apex of SOV filmmaking, The Good Book tackles cyber paranoia and the misguided souls of humanity who destroyed Mother Earth. The only feature from director Matthew Giaquinto sets itself up like any good cyber-thriller with a state-controlled media corporation satisfying paranoid citizens in their homes while mutant zombie creatures run amok outside. When our fearless IT tech has a crisis of faith thanks to his meeting with an unknown deity he reveals to a co-worker that he has a virus that could bring down GVC permanently and reset civilization.
Featuring an impressive display of editing techniques and narrative gusto, The Good Book is punching above its weight constantly. Between the camera movement, scene blocking, and early digital editing effects it’s an amazing display of knowledge from the filmmakers. With better tools, this could’ve been another cyberpunk underdog like Hardware. Performances are all fairly wooden with non-professional actors simply regurgitating the dialogue. The cast is committed to their roles with Barry Gerdsen simply having a blast as the deity with Fabio’s hair.
The Good Book reaches for philosophical arguments about faith and humanity but never loses sight of the mutant nightmare violence. Thankfully Gianquinto infuses plenty of humor into the film to alleviate tension. My favorite scene is when Joseph catches up with the latest installment of the highly successful film franchise Vampire Girlfriend Roommates. It’s good to know there can be quality content even within a government-controlled media state.
Vital Disc Stats: The Blu-ray
The Good Book arrives on Blu-ray thanks to Saturn’s Core and OCN Distribution. The disc is housed in a transparent keepcase with reversible artwork. Loading the disc presents the Saturn’s Core logo before landing on the Main Menu screen with scenes from the film playing against typical navigation options.
The Good Book arrives on Blu-ray in an AVC-encoded 1080p image in the film’s original 1.85:1 aspect ratio. As expected there is a generous amount of analog fuzz which provides very little detail. Colors are muddy with primaries showing no strength beyond their use in broad set pieces like the red vagina portal through which the deity passes. A smoothness filter is applied here removing any facial textures or costuming particulars. Black levels are solid, but unfortunately, most of the film constantly disappears into poorly lit scenes. Even in a dark room, my LG OLED couldn’t help me.
Audio for the feature comes from a single 2.0 DTS-HD mix. Dialogue is clear and clean though it uses post-recorded tracks for most of the exchanges. Effects and music are pronounced but never overpower the texture. Echo is prominent when on-camera microphones are utilized. Overall a satisfying audio mix for the feature.
This release of The Good Book is chocked full of bonus features allowing fans to dig further into the world run by GVC. Obviously, you’ll want to start with the full cut of Vampire Girlfriend Roommates Part 5 before moving through the other offerings. The 53-minute making-of featurette is a fascinating look at the production and recommended viewing after the credits roll.
The mid-’90s was a wellspring for techno-paranoia and The Good Book leaves no question about the consequences of losing your humanity as you give in to the digital overlords. Ambitious and full of interesting ideas, the film is a tense affair up until the credits roll. Not everything works here, but Giaquinto is committed to getting his point across even when the budget doesn’t allow it. The Blu-ray from Saturn’s Core delivers a respectable presentation given the film’s source material. The DTS 2.0 track is clear and there are enough bonus features for eager fans to explore. Worth a Look