Don McKayOverview -
In this edgy thriller, Don McKay (Thomas Haden Church, Sideways) flees his hometown after a horrendous tragedy and vows never to return. But 25 years later he comes back to find a dark menace looming over the town. As he attempts to rekindle his romance with an old high school girlfriend (Elisabeth Shue, Leaving Las Vegas), Don is pulled into a malevolent world from which he may never escape.
Storyline: Our Reviewer's Take
A shy janitor named Don McKay (Thomas Haden Church, 'Sideways') has been brought back to his hometown after 25 years, under very mysterious circumstances. His high school sweetheart Sonny (Elisabeth Shue, 'The Saint') has summoned him back because she's dying of a mysterious illness. All she wants to do is be close to him in her last days.
The beginning of 'Don McKay' is mysterious, and oddly suspenseful. Everyone Don comes in contact with, even Sonny, seems just slightly off center. Like they all know something that Don doesn't.
It seems Don left his hometown, and the girl he loved years ago because of The Accident. Yes, it's one of those movies. You know you're not going to find out about The Accident until the very end when all the mysteries are revealed.
Truth is, 'Don McKay' is only halfway decent. The first half is gripping, setting you up for something, but you don't know what. The way the people in the town act make you think that Don is trapped inside a 'Twilight Zone' episode where they'll end up eating him at the end. It's spooky.
He never knows what to make of his new situation. Sonny wants him close, even though he hasn't seen her for 25 years. He's more than willing to stay with her, he's lonely. For heaven's sake, he's a high school janitor. Anything is better than cleaning up after high school kids all day.
We never know exactly what's bothering Sonny, but her doctor seems just a tad sinister. As a matter of fact, everyone seems sinister. The moment Don sets foot into the town, people talk to him in vague discussions, and greet him with suspicious glances. It's all very disconcerting and fascinating to watch. I found myself wondering why in the world I had never heard of this film. It's well crafted, nicely acted, and gave me the heebie-jeebies. That is, until the second half of the film rolled around and undid every bit of suspense the first half had going for it, then it was like being sucker punched in the back of the head.
For a while I was sure I had stumbled upon an unknown noir thriller gem, but by the end I just nodded my head and said, "That's why no one's ever heard of this movie."
The tagline on the cover reads: "Some secrets are better left buried.” The same could also be said for the Blu-ray.
Image Entertainment's transfer of 'Don McKay' sports a 1080p AVC-encoded transfer. Flat and soft is the best way to describe the visuals here.
A darker palette is used to set the unsettling mood, but dark scenes suffer from crushing, and delineation isn't nearly as revealing as it should be. Colors seem flat and the entire presentation suffers from a soft looking picture. Fine detail isn't overly impressive, although details like hair, textures, and wood grain are all nicely rendered.
Problem is that there's nothing that really stands out with this presentation. If you really want to catch this film, the video won't be an utter distraction, but it won't really impress you either. It's a middling transfer at best.
The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround mix is a bit more lively than the video, but isn't without its problems.
The beginning of the film blasts a happy old-timey tune to set the mood. The music sounds great, but when a secretary at the school hands Don a letter and says it just came in for him, her voice is nearly unintelligible. There are a few more instances of soundtrack music blasting through the front channels, only to drown out a few lines of dialogue near the tail end of the song. It's a little frustrating. There's not much opportunity in 'Don McKay' for a lively surround sound effect. In the forest behind Sonny's house, birds chirp and twigs crack, but that's about it for the surrounds. When it seems something sinister is about to happen, eerie music bleeds into the rear speakers. Sadly, the ambient feel of the movie just doesn't ever enter the enveloping stage.
- Audio Commentary – Director Jake Goldberger and Producer Jim Young offer up a nicely constructed and executed commentary on an otherwise lackluster film. They talk about the problems they encounteredm, which may explain the reason why this film was never marketed. Young and Goldberger have a good rapport with each other and actually are able to make the film more enjoyable with their commentary.
- Deleted Scenes (SD, 5 min.) – A couple deleted scenes are included. Nothing really of merit, but the extended scene with Don and the long-winded cab driver is something to check out if you were into the film.
- Theatrical Trailer (SD, 2 min.) – The theatrical trailer is included. Apparently the film had a limited run in theaters. A very limited run.
'Don McKay' is a master of disguise. Masquerading as a creepy, interesting mystery, this film is really nothing more than a run-of-the-mill thriller that bites off more than it can chew, setting the scene, only to run out of room, giving the ending the feeling of an afterthought, an ending so witless it's barely above the "It was all a dream,” bookend. It's dreadfully apparent why this one never got a wide release. The video and audio are marginal, much like the film. This one, unfortunately, should be skipped.
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