• American Psycho (Lionsgate) Steelbook UHD/Blu-ray Review

    Released by: Lionsgate
    Released on: October 5th, 2021.
    Director: Mary Harron
    Cast: Christian Bale, Willem Dafoe, Jared Leto, Josh Lucas, Chloë Sevigny, Reese Witherspoon
    Year: 2000
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    American Psycho – Movie Review:

    Bret Easton Ellis’ novel American Psycho was an unlikely candidate for a big screen adaptation but director Mary Harron, who co-wrote the screenplay with actress Guinevere Turner, pulled it off. Yeah, fine, it’s not as brutal as the book – how could it be? – but the 2000 Lionsgate production stands on its own as an impressive film and one with a wicked sense of humor.

    The story takes place in the mid-eighties and introduces us to a twenty-seven-year-old mergers and acquisitions player named Patrick Bateman (Christian Bale). He makes good money, he has a meticulous workout and hygiene routine and he’s engaged to the equally affluent Evelyn Williams (Reese Witherspoon) and screwing his fiancée’s closest friend on the site, Courtney Rawlinson (Samantha Mathis), who just so happens to be engaged to Luis Carruthers (Matt Ross), “the biggest dufus in the business.” His meek secretary Jean (Chloë Sevigny) clearly has a crush on him even if he demeans her on a regular basis. He also really likes Huey Lewis And The News, Whitney Houston and Phil Collins.

    He’s also a psychopath.

    When Patrick isn’t doing cocaine in the bathroom of a nightclub with his Wall Street pals like Craig McDermott (Josh Lucas) and Timothy Bryce (Justin Theroux), he’s knifing homeless men, filming himself having three-ways with hookers and then beating them or taking out guys like Paul Allen (Jared Leto) with an axe to the face, men as arrogant as him but with a higher social standing – something that drives Bateman nuts. There’s no reason Allen should get a reservation at Dorsia when he can’t, damn it!

    When a cop named Donald Kimball (Willem Dafoe) starts investigating Allen’s disappearance, Bateman starts to get a little nervous. After killing a prostitute named Christie (Cara Seymour) with a chainsaw after she sees him kill their three-way partner Elizabeth (Turner), he and then goes on a bit of a killing spree. It’s clear that whatever that fragile hold he had on his sanity is quickly crumbling.

    “I have to return some videotapes.”

    A pitch-black comedy with some obvious and strong horror elements, American Psycho the movie does a good job of adapting American Psycho the book even if it can’t – and doesn’t need to – go as far as the source material does in terms of the details behind Bateman’s penchant for murder. The satirical aspect of the book is put front and center and while the movie still has plenty of sex and violence in it, it’s the way that the movie skewers the ‘me generation’ of eighties-era rich that makes the movie stand out. What’s interesting about the character set in the movie is that everyone in Bateman’s social circle is just as superficial and materialist as he is. Patrick might go on a minor rant here and there about how we have to help homeless people, end apartheid or chide a co-worker for anti-Semitic remarks but clearly doesn’t care about any of that. He, and all of his ilk, male and female alike, are narcissists. Bateman just takes it to the next level. The only exception in his circle is Mathis’ Courtney. She’s clearly unhappy with her life and seems to realize that there’s more to all of this than who has the best business card or the nicest view from their apartment, but she’s too blitzed out on drugs to really do anything about it.

    The performances are strong here. Obviously, Bale is the big draw. He’s perfect in the part and he really commits to the role. He can turn the charm on and off but when it’s time to go ‘psycho’ all bets are off and his Bateman can shift almost instantly from darkly humorous to clearly psychotic. He’s perfect in the part and it’s hard to imagine anyone else doing as good a job as he does here (Leonado DiCaprio was at one point considered). The supporting players are also very strong. All of Bateman’s co-workers are just as self-absorbed as he is and the actors in question play these parts well. Chloë Sevigny and Cara Seymour also stand out here, doing very good work in their respective parts.

    Production values are strong. The cinematography from Andrzej Sekula, who is probably best known for shooting Pulp Fiction and Reservoir Dogs, is excellent and the score from The Velvet Underground’s John Cale is also really impressive. Add to that a pitch-perfect soundtrack comprised of some mid-eighties super-hits, some impressive gore effects and great location and set work and American Psycho scores high marks all around – and it also holds up remarkably well.

    “Hey, is that Donald Trump's car?”

    Note that this is the uncut version of the movie, so the threesome scene is presented in its entirety and the dialogue that was cut to get the film an R-rating for its theatrical release is properly in place here.

    American Psycho – UHD/Blu-ray Review:

    Lionsgate brings American Psycho to UHD with an HEVC/H.265 encoded 2160p 4k transfer framed in the film’s original aspect ratio of 2.35.1 with Dolby Vision and HDR encoding. This 4k transfer shows a marked improvement over the poor looking Blu-ray release that was released a few years ago. Detail is vastly improved and even if it doesn’t quite hit the levels that the best UHD discs can, it is way stronger than we’ve seen before. There’s a lot more depth and texture to take in here as well, while color reproduction appears naturally warm and often nice and bright without looking oversaturated or artificially boosted. The HDR likely plays a big part in this – the stale interior of Bateman’s apartment looks perfectly sterile while the colors really pop when he goes out and hits the town. Black levels look very nice, deep and inky without crushing or smearing detail while skin tones look lifelike and natural. Compression looks good, there’s no obvious noise reduction or edge enhancement and this is quite film-like.

    The English language Dolby Atmos track is, again, a noticeable improvement over the original Blu-ray release. There’s excellent channel separation noticeable throughout pretty much the entire movie and the score really pumps here, blasting away through the surrounds quite nicely while still retaining great clarity. When the lower end kicks in – think the chainsaw scene – bass response really kicks in really nicely, with some pretty serious rumble underneath it. Dialogue stays perfectly clear and neatly positioned in the mix and there are no issues at all with any hiss or distortion. The levels are also properly balanced throughout, though there are a couple of spots where, when certain characters scream, you’re really going to notice it. Optional subtitles are available in English, English SDH and Spanish

    The biggest draw, as far as the extras go, is a new commentary from with director/co-writer Mary Harron. While this does cover some of the same ground as her original commentary track (also included here), there’s obviously been some time passed and as such, she brings a fresh perspective to it. She talks about adapting the source material with Guinevere Turner, her thoughts on the book and the surrounding controversy, working with Bateman and the rest of the cast and quite a bit more. Towards the last third she does tend to narrate what we’re seeing on screen just a bit but she also talks about how and why the ending was changed from the book as well as the ‘is it/isn’t it real’ aspect of the finale. Also ported over as is the archival track from actress/co-writer Guinevere Turner. She talks about collaborating with Harron, also gives her thoughts on Ellis’ novel, talks up many of the performances in the picture and shares her own experiences working as an actress on the shoot.

    Also carried over from the past release is twelve-minutes’ worth of Deleted Scenes. There are five scenes in total here and they’re available with or without commentary from Mary Harron. These are interesting and worth checking out if you haven’t seen them before. Most of these, if memory serves correct, adapt portions of the book and they’re well-done. The commentary essentially sets up the context in which they take place and then explains why they were cut from the film.

    The thirty-two-minute The ’80s: Downtown featurette from past editions also reappears here. This one is a lot of fun, even if it doesn’t necessarily relate to the feature itself. It’s essentially a collection of thoughts on the decade in which the film takes place, discussing the greed of the era and some of the selfishness and nihilism that inspired the picture. Lionsgate also brings back the forty-nine-minute American Psycho: From Book To Screen featurette that’s made up primarily of a host of interviews with embers of the production team who discuss in quite a bit of detail the difficulty in getting the insanely controversial source material turned into a feature film.

    Not all of the extras from the past DVD editions are found here, however. Missing are a few featurettes – The Pornography Of Violence form the collector’s edition from Lionsgate, the six-minute ‘featurette’ found on the Universal disc, the interview with Bale found on that same disc – as well as any trailers or TV spots. Additionally, it would have been nice to get Ellis or Bale on board for a commentary or some interviews, but that didn’t happen either. Still, what’s here is pretty good and the new commentary adds some value to the extras package.

    As this is a combo pack, we also get a Blu-ray version of the movie included inside the black keepcase. Note that this Blu-ray version is the same disc that was released by Lionsgate back in 2007, it does not use the new transfer and it looks reasonably awful by comparison (note that the caps below are from the Blu-ray disc and do NOT represent the far superior quality of the UHD).

    What sets this release apart from the previous release is the packaging. Lionsgate has provided, as a Best Buy exclusive, a pretty nice steelbook that features some original art on the front and a cool plastic slipcover that slides overtop of the steelbook that gives the illusion that Bateman is peeling a layer his face off.

    American Psycho – The Final Word:

    American Psycho holds up really well almost two decades since it hit theaters. It’s smart, it’s funny, it’s horrifying and it’s still a potent slice of filmmaking featuring some genuinely great performances. Lionsgate’s 4K UHD release is a good one, offering a presentation vastly improved over what we’ve seen before and with a new director’s commentary as well.

    Click on the images below for full sized American Psycho Blu-ray (not UHD) screen caps!