• Removal

    Released by: Liongate
    Released on: January 3, 2012.
    Director: Nick Simon
    Cast: Billy Burke, Mark Kelly, Oz Perkins, Kelly Brook
    Year: 2010
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    The Movie:

    An independently produced thriller from director Nick Simon (who co-wrote with actor Oz Perkins, Anthony Perkins’ kid!), 2010’s Removal follows a down on his luck working class guy named Cole (Mark Kelly) who witnessed a man (Billy Burke) kill his family and then himself. This obviously messed Cole up, and understandably so, and he was in the hospital for a while dealing with it until he was deemed fit to go back into the outside world. It’s shortly after that he winds up taking a night shift as a carpet cleaner for cash under the table that he needs to support his wife and kid. He arrives after already working a double shift, and here he meets the wealthy man who hired him named Henry Sharpe (Perkins) who quickly tarts to drop hints that he might have actually just murdered his wife. Given that Cole recently witnessed a murder suicide, he starts having strange flashbacks of varying degrees of intensity in which we see parts of his past come back to haunt him.

    Cole does what he can to finish the job as quickly as he can so that he can collect the cash he needs and get out of Sharpe’s home as soon as he’s able to. Those hallucinations start to get more and more intense as the night goes on, however, and Cole starts to wonder if Sharpe hasn’t hired him to clean the blood out of the carpet from the murder he committed – but how much of this is reality and how much of this is Cole’s fractured psyche is anyone’s guess.

    Removal mixes up elements from better known thrillers like Inception and Memento but manages to put its own slick twist on things before the end credits hit the screen. As such, you might think you’ve figured out where it’s going and write it off but stick with it, as although this isn’t a ‘twist’ film per se, it takes things in some interesting and refreshingly unexpected directions before it finishes up. The script from Simon and Perkins is a solid one, and they obviously put some time into tweaking things and getting things right before rushing into production, as it would have been all too easy for this film to fall into derivative trappings – but that doesn’t happen. The film does borrow from other movies, to be sure, but it stops short of letting that influence take over.

    Enough about that side of things, lest we spoil it for those who haven’t seen it – shifting gears a bit, the lead performance from Mark Kelly is very strong. You wouldn’t think it’s easy to make an unstable carpet cleaner seem like a cool guy, like someone you’d actually want to know in real life or even hang out with but Kelly manages to make Cole exactly that. As such, we’re able to sympathize with him and care about his increasingly bizarre plight. On the flip side of this same coin is Oz Perkins, who steals the show as the strange man who has lured Cole here for reasons he doesn’t quite understand. His character starts off seemingly nice enough, but as the story progresses his true colors start to show.

    Simon directs with enough style to matter but is smart enough not to let the visuals overpower the narrative. Throw in some clever editing tricks, a moody score and some very effective dark humor and you can soon see how Removal winds up a very pleasant surprise.


    Removal arrives on DVD in great shape by way of this 2.40.1 anamorphic widescreen transfer. Detail is sharp, colors are nice looking and skin tones look natural. Keeping in mind that a lot of this movie takes place inside a dark house, it’s nice to see that the black levels stay strong. Though there are some minor problems with compression artifacts there are no issues print damage or dirt. This is a well authored presentation of some clean source material.

    The only audio option is a solid English language Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound mix, though optional subtitles are provided in both English and in Spanish. Not the most aggressive track you’re ever going to hear, this mix does add some nice ambient noise to the background from time to time and provides clear dialogue and well balanced effects and music.

    Extras aren’t anything to write home about, limited to an alternate opening, a single (and inconsequential) deleted scene, a gag reel and trailers for a few other Lionsgate DVD releases. Menus and chapter stops are also included.

    The Final Word:

    Removal starts off as a strong thriller and succeeds in keeping the pace strong and the tension thick throughout, right until the ending. A few good twists are complimented by some very solid performances, a strong script and some nice camera work – if Lionsgate’s DVD is light on extras, it looks and sounds quite good making this one to watch for.