Untraceable Blu-ray Review
PictureWell, this is a most unusual and difficult transfer to write about! As usual, we are presented with a 1080P theatrically correct image, in this case at 2.40:1 ratio.
The first thing to mention is that the source print is super slick, as one would expect from such a recent film. There is certainly no blemishes or defects on the print. The black levels are rich and deep.
What is interesting is the way the film is shot. Contrast appears to be deliberately compressed down which leads to a suppression of the 3d pop that we have all come to expect. The colour levels are similarly muted with the director going for a colour palette of blues and greens. This is particularly noticeable inside Marsh's house - where everything seems strangely muted and comfortless. This is certainly a deliberate stylistic choice by the director, though, so the transfer shouldn't be marked down because of it.
This style also means that flesh tones do not always come across as realistic, and facial detail is slightly lacking. However, background detail is sometimes breathtaking, and the image is always extremely sharp and clear, even in the darkest most rain soaked scenes.
Overall the transfer does an excellent job of bringing the director's vision to your home screen. It may not be the kind of transfer that will be brought out for demonstration purposes but like the film it is solid and impressive without being spectacular.
SoundThe Dolby TrueHD soundtrack begins very impressively with a thunderstorm cracking throughout the soundfield, and the piteous meows of a tortured cat panning across the room. In fact, my own cat was so upset by this that he spent ten minutes searching the room for the unfortunate beast before running outside through the cat-trap and refusing to come in for several hours.
Once I had given up trying to entice her back in, I settled back in for the rest of the film - and I am pleased to say that the standard is maintained all the way through to the end.
The first thing to note is that this is NOT one of those bombastic mixes that insists on utilising all 6 speakers, even when it is not necessarily. The makers have gone for a very pleasing, subtle mix that really enhances the atmosphere. The dialogue is anchored well to the front with no bleed, and is always clear and easy to hear whatever action may be going on around. The score is an impressive piece of work, and underpins the atmosphere well, coming through all five satellites at times.
The sub is always well utilised when needed. There are no big explosions or set pieces in the film, but there are a lot of thunder storms and these always use the LFE for low frequency rumble very well.
There are a lot of storms throughout Untraceable and it can be quite disconcerting sitting there with the rain teeming all around you. The surrounds beautifully realise these effects. Also there is plenty of ambience coming from the rears as well - whether just everyday sounds when we are in Marsh's house, or echoes when needed. The whole experience is excellent.
ExtrasWe start with a rather poor Commentary from the director, producer, and production designer. The chat track is really rather dry and technical - and is not one which is likely to appeal to all but the most technical minded of viewers (and it is unlikely that those types will be watching this anyway).
We then get four featurettes lasting a total of around fifty minutes. These cover the production design (Tracking Untraceable), the cast (Personnel Files), the murder effects (Anatomy of a Murder) and finally The Blueprint of Murder which follows costume design. These are standard EPK stuff, with some interesting insight but ultimately, like the film itself, a little bland. I did like some of the rather frank admittance of the inaccuracies in the film however. It really bugs me when someone utters a load of techno-crap in a film in order to sound technical and baffle the average viewer. It annoys the hell out of me and happens a lot in the film. Full marks for admitting it here.
Finally (apart from a few Trailers) we get a feature length picture in picture commentary Beyond the Cyber Bureau. If you can bring yourself to watch the film a second time, then this is certainly worth a look. Whilst some replication from other special features occurs, this is one of the more polished and interesting PiPs I have seen on Blu-ray.
VerdictUntraceable is not a bad film per se. It is stylishly directed, and features some decent performances. Sadly, though, although the central concept is - at least - reasonably original the film very quickly sinks into a predictable mess which references every other successful genre entry that predates it.
The transfer is an excellent rendition of what the director intended, although it is never likely to be a reference disc in your collection. The sound mix, though, is absolutely superb - being subtle and effective with full use being made of the whole sound stage.
The extras package is a little light apart from an excellent PiP feature that is worth a watch (if you can bear to watch the film a second time).
Avid fans of the genre may well find much to enjoy here, but unless you are completely in love with the serial killer / crime genre then you may well want to rent this first.
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £38.96
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