• Monitor, The



    Released by: Lionsgate

    Released on: July 24, 2012.

    Director: Pål Sletaune

    Cast: Noomi Rapace, Kristoffer Joner, Henrik Rafaelsen

    Year: 2011

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    The Movie:


    Directed by Norwegian filmmaker Pål Sletaune (who gave us the excellent thriller Naboer a few years back), The Monitor follows the story of a woman named Anna (Noomi Rapace) who is involved in a relationship with an abusive husband. Eventually she has enough, and so she and her eight year old son leave him and hide out temporarily inside a massive apartment building. Anna is more or less living in constant fear at this point, worried that her husband will track her and her son down and do them some serious physical harm. In order to ease her mind just a little bit, she purchases a baby monitor so that she can keep tabs on what’s happening in her son's while he sleeps.


    Things take a strange turn when she starts hearing bizarre noises emanating from the monitor’s receiver. She knows that these sounds are not coming from the transmitter in her son’s room but seem to be instead coming from somewhere else in their vicinity – as if the receiver is picking up something from another baby monitor. As she listens and tries to figure out what these sounds are, she comes to the conclusion that what she’s hearing is in fact another child being murdered – but is what she’s hearing actually happening or is it the figment of an active imagination and her increasing paranoia derived from her own situation?


    Originally released as Babycall, The Monitor isn’t the fastest paced movie that you’ll ever see in your life but if you stick with it you’ll learn it’s a clever movie that tells an interesting story. As Anna’s paranoia becomes increasingly powerful and controlling, the movie takes some interesting twists and turns and manages to keep you guessing pretty much right up through the end. When all is said and done we’re left with an appropriate finale, though it’s likely one that some will take issue with – but let’s avoid spoilers.


    Sletaune’s direction is solid and deliberate, he’s definitely in control of this picture and the visuals do a good job of letting us into Anna’s head a bit. The real reason to watch the movie, however, is Rapace’s performance. She’s very committed here and as such, she’s very believable. Her obvious love and care for her son, seemingly the only thing that matters in her life, is touching but her fear is portrayed just as effectively. When she gets scared, you can almost feel it with her. She has a fragility to her in this role that really suits her interesting facial features and she does a good job of using body language to portray what often times words cannot. She’s not made up to look glamorous here at all, instead she appears very plain and common – quite a stretch from the part she played in her best known film, The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo.


    Video/Audio/Extras:


    The 2.35.1 anamorphic widescreen picture on this DVD looks fine. Colors are nicely defined and detail is strong throughout. The picture is fluid and natural looking and although there is some shimmer here and there, no compression artifacts pop into the frame. Colors are handled well and look nice and natural while black levels are solid throughout. This isn’t a particularly bright movie in terms of its locations and the various interiors that are used, so things lean towards the drab side of the color palette but this is obviously the way that the movie was shot and not an issue with the transfer itself.


    The Norwegian language Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound mix on the disc is solid. It plays around with the score nicely and offers up the film with crisp clear dialogue. There are no issues with hiss or distortion to note and the mix is clean and fairly robust. Surround usage isn’t constant but it doesn’t need to be, the rear channels do kick in when the movie calls for it, however. An optional English language track is included here, also in Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound, but the Norwegian track is much more effective and appropriate. Optional subtitles are provided in English and Spanish.


    There aren’t a ton of extras here but Lionsgate have included a handful of moderately interesting deleted scenes and a trailer for the feature in addition to previews for a few unrelated properties and the standard menus and chapter stops you’d expect on the DVD.


    The Final Word:


    A solid thriller made all the more impressive by some strong performances, The Monitor could have used more love in the extra features department but otherwise receives a strong DVD release from Lionsgate.