• DIS (Unearthed Films) Blu-ray Review

    Released by: Unearthed Films
    Released on: January 22nd, 2019.
    Directed by: Adrian Corona
    Cast: Bill Oberst Jr., Lori Jo Hendrix, Peter Gonzales Falcon, Manuel Domínguez
    Year: 2019
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    DIS – Movie Reviews:

    Adrian Corona’s DIS is essentially a story told in three parts. It is told with very little dialogue, letting the visuals and the physical side of leading man Bill Oberst Jr.’s strong performance do the storytelling in its place. A visually impressive film, it doesn’t waste any of the sixty-minutes that make up its running time and it proves to be quite an interesting and at times rather provocative watch.

    The first part of the film is entitled The Figure and it starts off with a bizarre and unsettling scene where a hooded man injects a syringe and its contents into the body of a naked woman bound up in a rundown abandoned building. With that done, he puts a bowl underneath her and pleasures her to the point where it’s clear she’s climaxed.

    The second part is Mandragora, and in this section we get some more details on what the hooded man has been up to and why he’s collecting certain bodily fluids from his captive. In this chapter we first meet Ariel (played by Oberst) and learn of his past, that he was once a soldier and is now essentially a criminal. When we see him, he’s hiking through the woods though we know from where the camera is placed that he’s being watched. His hike ends when he comes across a large abandoned building that he decides to explore.

    In the third chapter, entitled DIS, we witness Ariel’s time of reckoning – and we’ll leave it at that.

    There’s a reason that this film is named after the sixth of the nine circles of Hell laid out in Dante’s Inferno, but to explain that too much would mean laying down serious spoilers so we’ll avoid that here. Let it suffice to say that if things seem more than a little random in the first half of the film, by the time we get to the finale it’s clear that his was all quite calculated and carefully put together from the start. Adrian Corona directs with plenty of style, not at all concerned that the pacing is erratic here – which is okay, that’s not really a complaint, but if you’re expecting the film to maintain the momentum it has in its opening you might be taken aback by how it slows down shortly after. Still, it’s interesting stuff, tying in to elements of witchcraft, devil worship and even the Biblical story of creation in intelligent, creative and at times genuinely unsettling ways.

    This is strong stuff in terms of its content. It is a dark film and quite graphic at times, throwing both male and female nudity at the viewer quite frequently and often in very violent ways. But there’s more to this than just the shock value inherent on the surface. Sure, there are a couple of times where you have to suspend your disbelief (you’d think a trained soldier would know have better stealth skills than Ariel does) but to get hung up on those details is to not see the forest for the trees. The sound design reflects the dark mood of the picture, getting quite abrasive at times, but it works in the context of the story being told.

    In addition to a host of impressive visuals, the movie also benefits from a very strong performance from Bill Oberst Jr., who delivers a pretty bold and fearless performance here. His character is a man of few words but he does a good job of using body language and facial expressions to effectively communicate all that we really need his character to communicate.

    DIS – Blu-ray Review:

    DIS was clearly shot on HD digital video so there’s no print damage to note nor is there any grain. The movie, which is presented in 2.35.1 widescreen and in AVC encoded 1080p high definition on a 25GB disc, uses a mix of black and white and color footage throughout and it looks quite good. It’s a well-shot picture and the transfer brings out quite bit of solid detail. Some of the darker scenes are pretty shadowy and a little murky but this would look to be intentional. There are no problems with any serious compression issues and there’s solid texture here too.

    The English language DTS-HD 5.1 track on the disc is solid. As noted above, the sound can be pretty abrasive at times and there are spots where you wonder if maybe they didn’t overdo it with the level spikes just a tad but all in all, the mix is fine. What little dialogue there is here is clean and clear and some effective channel separation helps with the music and sound effects used in the picture. An alternate LPCM 2.0 Stereo track is also included.

    Extras start off with director Adrian Corona’s introduction, a quick two-minute piece where he offers some insight into the film. From there, dig into Portrait, a short film that was also directed by Corona that runs just over nineteen-minutes in length. It’s a strange black and white piece that involves an aged woman smoking and staring at a painting that then switches over to full color where it gets…. disturbing. It’s well shot but as you might expect from the man who made DIS, it’s frequently unpleasant in what it deals with and how it shows it. Still, the narrative pulls things together. Without spoiling things, the painting is important and the film basically shows the story of how it was created and why it has taken on the significance that it has for certain characters. Unearthed Films has also supplied a behind the scenes piece that runs just roughly four minutes in length showing Corona directing Oberst in a few different scenes.

    There’s also a five part interview with Bill Oberst, Jr. included here that sees the actor talking about why DIS was a hard shoot to be involved in, how he feels that affected the finished product, his thoughts on first reading the script, the meaning of the film and why horror movies matter. Oberst has some interesting answers and comes across as thoughtful and intelligent.

    Rounding out the extras is a still gallery, a trailer for the feature and trailers for a few other Unearthed Films properties (American Guinea Pig: Sacrifice, Atroz, Dark Side Of The Moon, Song Of Solomon, Torment and Where The Dead Go To Die). Menus and chapter stops are also included.

    DIS – The Final Word:

    DIS is absolutely not going to be for all tastes, but those who can appreciate the more extreme side of the genre and don’t mind liberal doses of almost surreal visuals coupled with some unforgettably nasty set pieces should appreciate what the filmmakers have done here. It’s a striking and original work of pitch-black art, highlighted by Oberst’s excellent acting and some very impressive cinematography. Unearthed Film’s Blu-ray presents the film in nice shape and with some interesting extras as well.

    Click on the images below for full sized DIS Blu-ray screen caps!