• Darkroom (Vinegar Syndrome) Blu-ray Review

    Released by: Vinegar Syndrome
    Released on: April 23rd, 2019.
    Director: Terrence O'Hara
    Cast: Aarin Teich, Jill Pierce, Jeff Arbaugh, Sara Lee Wade
    Year: 1989
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    Darkroom – Movie Review:

    Produced by Nico Mastorakis and directed by Terrence O’Hara, 1989’s Darkroom follows a pretty young woman named Janet (Jill Pierce) who returns home after some time away to hang out with her family at their farmhouse. Prior to this, she and her boyfriend, Steve (Jeff Arbaugh), a professional photographer, got into a spat. He wanted to tie the knot, she wasn’t into this whole ‘commitment thing.’ It didn’t end well. Regardless, that’s all behind her now, right?

    Upon her arrival, the happy family reunion turns fairly sour fairly quickly. Her mother, Nora (Stella Kastner), and grandfather Forrest (John O'Connor) are very old fashioned and not all that impressed with her recent lifestyle choices. Sisters Cindy (Sara Lee Wade) and Paula (Abigail Lenz) are too self-absorbed to care about much of anything while her cousins, Mark (Allen Lieberman) and Perry (Aarin Teich), just don’t seem all that happy to see her. Oddly enough, when Steve shows up out of nowhere, the family gives him a much warmer reception.

    And then Paula disappears. She was heading out to break up with her boyfriend, a farmer named George (Timothy Hicks) who lives in a trailer on the other side of town. Nora talks Janet, Cindy and Steve to go look for her, and after an altercation with George, they find her corpse. When they try to go to the cops, things get even worse and they soon realize that there’s a deranged photographer stalking and killing various people in their vicinity – but who could it be and what’s the connection?

    A slashery thriller shot with a decent amount of style by cinematographer David Makin, Darkroom is, sadly, riddled with genre clichés and does little to set itself apart from other, similar genre entries. The cast do a decent enough job here and Jill Pierce makes for a solid lead but there isn’t much that you haven’t seen here before. Still, for less demanding slasher enthusiasts, there is enough to make this worth a watch. If this isn’t all that original it is a fairly sleazy affair and it does feature some admittedly impressive murder set pieces. Director O’Hara, who made his debut here before going on to helm a lot of TV projects, paces the picture rather well. Technical merits are also fine across the board – it’s a glossy looking film, the score is fine. Tonally the film is a bit erratic, with semi-frequent doses of humor tossed into the picture that don’t quite work, but if this is not unsung classic it’s moderately entertaining and it does offer up some superficial fun.

    Darkroom – Blu-ray Review:

    Darkroom is presented in AVC encoded 1080p high definition framed at 1.85.1 widescreen with a new transfer taken from a 4k scan of the original 35mm negative. This is, by anyone’s standards, an excellent transfer. The picture shows great detail and beautiful color reproduction and the elements used appear to have been in great shape. There’s virtually no print damage here at all, while the natural film grain remains intact. Edge enhancement, compression artifacts and noise reduction are non-issues, skin tones look great, black levels are perfect.

    English language options are provided in DTS-HD 2.0 Stereo and 5.1 Surround Sound options with removable SDH subtitles provided in English. The 5.1 mix mainly spreads out the score and the occasional sound effect with most of the dialogue up front in the mix. Both tracks sound very good, however. Dialogue is clean and clear and the score sounds just fine, with solid depth. There are no problems with any hiss or distortion worth noting. No problems here, the movie sounds very good.

    Extras start off with Developing Fear, an eleven-minute interview with actor Aarin Teich wherein he speaks about getting his start in the film business and a few of the early roles that he took before then talking about how he landed the part in Darkroom and what it was like to work on the film. A second featurette, Exposing the Truth, is a fourteen-minute interview with actor Jeff Arbaugh that sees him discuss talk about his career in live theater, shifting over to working on soap operas and then taking on his first feature film role in Darkroom (which he doesn’t have all that much to say about). Both of these are interesting and worth checking out.

    Rounding out the extras are a trailer for the feature and a still gallery. Menus and chapter selection are also included. As this is a combo pack release, we also get a DVD version of the movie and Vinegar Syndrome packages this with some nice reversible cover artwork.

    Slip cover collectors will be interested in buying directly from Vinegar Syndrome where they can get a limited-edition slip featuring exclusive (and super cool) artwork from Derek Gabryszak that is limited to 1,500 pieces.

    Darkroom – The Final Word:

    A little originality would have gone a long way, Darkroom is pretty derivative, but if nothing else it offers up some gore and some skin and it boasts pretty decent production values and some enjoyable performances. Vinegar Syndrome has done an excellent job on the Blu-ray, presenting the film in fantastic shape and with a couple of good extras as well.

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