Texas Killing Fields Blu-ray Review
On Region B-locked UK Blu-ray Texas Killing Fields appears to have been given the same decent-if-far-from-exceptional video presentation that we got Stateside just a couple of months ago. Given a solid 1080p High Definition rendition in the movie’s original theatrical aspect ratio of 2.4:1 widescreen, this is a very respectful reflection of the director’s intended look to the film, complete with all the resultant issues you might expect. The dark, often night-set locales lead to hints of crush, although arguably also result in some of the best-looking scenes in the movie. The limited, often intentionally drab colour scheme is rendered accurately here, with few vibrant colours on offer amidst the dilapidated and sun-bleached locales. Skin tones are healthy, although most of the visages on offer appear to have been suitably weathered to reflect their circumstances. Black levels are strong, allowing for those aforementioned solid night-time sequences, and whilst this is definitely not a demo-quality presentation, it does a respectful job with the director’s tailored, atmospheric style.
On the aural front we get a suitably moody DTS-HD Master Audio accompaniment, which appears to differ from the US Dolby TrueHD 7.1 track, and, thankfully, for the better. Dialogue is given clear and coherent precision across the fronts and centre channels, the only distortion – if you can call it that – appearing to come from the unfortunate side-effects of on-set recorded dialogue; material which other directors may have chosen to refine using ADR. Still’s it’s not a fault of the presentation, which handles all elements well, including the sparse but still effective effects stream, boasting everything from shootouts, thundering shotgun blasts and screeching car chases through to the oppressive marshlands, teeming with life – and sometimes of the human animal variety. Thunder is perhaps the most striking part of the effects array, really rocking your living room as if your house is about to get hit. The score only adds to the atmospheric mix, further giving the surrounds some material to play with and rounding out a suitably potent track that is not quite all-encompassing, but often comes close.
Shockingly, the biggest difference between the UK and US release is the fact that we have lost out on the US disc’s Director’s Commentary. With Ami Mann hosting, along with the writer as well, fans will be very disappointed that this release, which follows in the wake of the US disc, should drop this single – but vital – extra. What do we get instead? A trailer.
Texas Killing Fields is a dark, atmospheric, and at times unusually unpredictable thriller which has almost all of the right elements required to make it stand out in an already over-populated genre. It may be familiar territory; it may not be completely refined, but it’s still a worthy sophomore directorial effort from acclaimed filmmaker Michael Mann’s daughter. Too mainstream to appeal to the critics; too indie to appeal to the mass markets, you shouldn’t let the bad press put you off, otherwise you may miss out on a little gem of a serial killer police thriller, driven by engaging performances and enhanced by stylish and refreshingly atmospheric direction.
On Region B-locked UK Blu-ray we get very good video and a surprisingly atmospheric audio track, but absolutely zero extras – notably dropping the Commentary track available on the US release from earlier this year. Fans of the film who aren’t Region-restricted may want to consider looking overseas just to get that extra feature; those who aren’t bothered, or who have no choice but to buy Region B releases shouldn’t be too disappointed – this is still a solid release, just not the best one on the market.
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