Brimstone Blu-ray Review
Not so divine retribution
Dakota Fanning is haunted and hunted across a Tarantino-esque non-linear narrative by Guy Pearce's preacher-from-hell in this intense horror-infused Western.Feeling like the kind of relentlessly doom-laden descent into hell that you might find in a Cormac "The Road" McCarthy story, Dutch writer/director Martin Koolhoven's Brimstone is a surprisingly tense mystery Western. Indeed it's arguably more horror/thriller than Western, utilising the 19th century Old West setting as precisely that: a backdrop over which a bleak but compelling tale of survival and struggle in harsh and unforgiving times is played out, complete with a tortured, deeply sympathetic protagonist and a demon-like, Terminator-esque antagonist.Dakota Fanning is superb as a young wife living a simple existence when the appearance of a new preacher in town turns her life upside down. Whilst Guy Pearce is perfect as the unstoppable monster whose devout religious beliefs blend terrifyingly with some pretty unforgivable personal sins mostly exacted upon his own young family. Koolhoven does a commendable job crafting a stylish, moody, gritty, dark and haunting mystery horror-western not wholly unlike Bone Tomahawk in tone and surprise brutality. It's a tough watch but it's worth checking out.
Picture QualityThunderbird Releasing delivers Brimstone unto us on a Region B-locked UK Blu-ray complete with a strong 1080p/AVC-encoded High Definition video presentation framed in the movie's original theatrical aspect ratio of 2.40:1 widescreen. Whether in the freezing blizzards or the warmer indoor sequences; the surprisingly cold church or the candle-lit brothel, the image stands up impressively and accurately, remaining faithful to the period sentiments and even delivering a few sequences of pure majesty.
The image even manages to deliver a few sequences of pure majesty
Detail is well-observed, drawing upon fine object work, taking in the background textures, clothing weaves and weathered visages of the main characters, and adapting to every environment we're presented with, from the blistering desert to the blisteringly cold snowstorm. Black levels remain strong and true for the most part, occasionally faltering, but providing a decent enough backdrop to the well-rendered colour scheme. It's a very good video presentation, occasionally even demo in its gorgeous vistas, with the director certainly having a nice burgeoning style which brings out the best in this little gem.
Sound QualityThe accompanying DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 soundtrack also does a strong job with the proceedings, delivering the core elements with aplomb, and certainly going some way towards maintaining that persistent tension that defines the film.
A tense and intense soundtrack
Dialogue remains clearly and coherently rendered across the frontal array, even in spite of the stronger accents affected, however it is arguably the least important part - particularly for some of the characters. Effects take in the crack of a few gunshots, the slash of bladed weapons, and the clink of steel, as well as horse hooves and rattling carriages. It's the more adverse weather conditions that really bring the array to life however, from the wind sweeping through the desert to the blizzard tearing across your living room and leaving you chilled to the bone, to blazing fires and bustling bars. The haunting score rounds out the tense and intense track.
ExtrasSome interviews and a few deleted scenes comprise the only extras
Blu-ray VerdictA stylish, moody, gritty, dark and haunting mystery horror-western not wholly unlike Bone Tomahawk in tone and surprise brutality
Brimstone lands on UK shores with a largely impressive video and audio presentation as well as a couple of extras, and is well worth investigating if you like the sound of it. It's certainly an alternative Western which does well to expand the genre.
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £9.99
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