• 99.9 (Cult Epics) Blu-ray Review

    Released by: Cult Epics
    Released on: October 12th, 2021.
    Director: Agustí Villaronga
    Cast: María Barranco, Terele Pávez, Ruth Gabriel, Gustavo Salmerón, Simón Andreu
    Year: 1997
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    99.9 – Movie Review:

    Directed by Agustí Villaronga in 1997, his third full-length film, 99.9, features an early sequence where a man named Victor (Gustavo Salmerón) runs naked through an old cemetery in the middle of the night, clearly fearing for his life. He’s right to be afraid, as a few minutes later, he’s killed.

    From here we meet Lara (María Barranco), Victor’s ex-wife and a radio host by trade. She hosts a talk show where listeners call in and discuss paranormal events that they’ve experienced. When she gets an odd call from someone residing in the small town of Jimena, she becomes unsettled by what she hears. This increases when, a short time later, she gets a VHS tape in the mail that documents her former husband’s efforts to connect with the spirits of the dead. When she learns that Victor is dead, and of how and where he died, she travels to Jimena to try and figure out exactly what happened to him. Here she becomes suspicious of a man named Simón (Simón Andreu), who runs the town hotel, and meets a strange woman named Dolores (Terele Pávez) who has connections to Victor’s passing.

    As Lara becomes more involved in her investigation, strange things start to happen to her and around her, and the more she learns about what exactly it was that Victor was up to, the more dangerous things become.

    Set to an excellent score from Javier Navarrete, who would go on to work with Guillermo Del Toro on The Devil’s Backbone and Pan’s Labyrinth and who scored Villagronga’s earlier film, In A Glass Cage, 99.9 is a moody, atmospheric slow burn story that, if not exactly rapid in its pacing, does a great job of building, albeit slowly, to a really strong finale. Shot by cinematographer Javier Aguirresarobe, who has worked on everything from Thor: Ragnarok to Twilight to The Others to Salsa, it’s a very good looking film. The camerawork does a nice job of bringing out all of the eeriness inherent in the small town setting where most of the film takes place, as well as really doing a great job of capturing the facial expressions, and therefore the emotions, of the different characters that populate the story.

    The performances are pretty strong here. María Barranco is very good in the lead role. As Lara, she’s smart, capable and understandably inquisitive, we completely understand why she’d go about doing what she does in the film. She’s also quite likeable, so we can get behind her when things go south. Supporting work from Gustavo Salmerón, Simón Andreu and an effectively weird Terele Pávez is also strong.

    99.9 – Blu-ray Review:

    Cult Epics brings 99.9 to region free Blu-ray in an AVC encoded 1080p high definition transfer framed at 1.85.1 widescreen taken from a “new 2K Transfer (from original 35mm print).” Taking up 35GBs of space on the 50GB disc, the transfer looks quite good. The elements were clearly very clean as there’s really no print damage at all. Detail, depth and texture all look quite nice and color reproduction is very strong. Compression artifacts, noise reduction and edge enhancement are non-issues. Overall, this looks really good.

    Spanish language audio is provided in 24-bit DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio and 24-bit LPCM 2.0 Stereo with optional subtitles offered up in English only. The 5.1 mix spreads out the score and effects a bit into the rear channels and keep the dialogue more or less up front in the mix. Both tracks are clean, clear and nicely balanced, free of any hiss or distortion.

    In addition to an isolated score option comprised of forty-seven minutes of music from composer Javier Navarette, the disc also includes a 2018 interview with Agusti Villaronga that runs ten minutes. This piece, which is very clip-heavy, covers his work in film and television, where the idea for 99.9 came from, the influence of real events in Spain on the movie, budgetary restraints, the crew that he worked with on the project, the 'language' of horror movies, the heritage of Alfred Hitchcock and its place in horror cinema and the importance of making the audience question who the monster really is.

    Also found on the disc is The Making Of 99.9, a featurette from 1997 that runs eighteen minutes. This features some vintage interview footage with Villaronga, cast members María Barranco, Terele Pávez, Gustavo Salmerón, Ruth Gabriel, Miguel Picazo and cinematographer Javier Aguirresarobe in addition to a lot of clips from the film and a fair bit of behind the scenes footage. It covers what interested Villaronga in the project, what it was like on set, how the cast enjoyed working with the director, how the film started as a TV series, getting into character, filming some of the more action-intensive sequences, changes that had to be made to the story during the production, some of the themes and concepts that the film explores, the chemistry that existed between the cast members, trying to create a specific atmosphere and look for the film and more.

    Rounding out the extras are trailers for In A Glass Cage, 99.9 and Moon Child. Menus and chapter selection are also provided and as this is a combo pack release, a DVD version of the movie is also included inside the standard Blu-ray keepcase.

    99.9 – The Final Word:

    99.9 is very much a slow burn, but it’s definitely well made. It builds nicely to a really tense finale and it makes good use of a talented cast and some strong cinematography. The Blu-ray release from Cult Epics looks and sounds very good and contains some nice extra features as well. Overall, this is a strong package for a very good film.

    Click on the images below for full-sized 99.9 screen caps!

    Comments 1 Comment
    1. AngelGuts's Avatar
      AngelGuts -
      Great review. Love this disk, too, and a huge upgrade on prior, barely distributed DVD.