PictureIt's presented in a 1.85:1 ratio using the MPEG-4 Advanced Video Codec. The whole movie was made on a micro-budget and has been filmed using what appears to be a low-end digital camera. The effect was meant to be that of a home made handicam with plenty of shakes. The video quality evidently reflects that approach. That may well of course have been the approach by design but there's no doubting that the resulting video quality suffers as a direct result and it generally makes for poor viewing pleasure. The picture is very soft and grainy and the whole thing really does not offer any tangible benefits of being presented as a high definition release. The blacks are so, so and the contrast marginally ok and on occasion you can actually see the levels fluctuate. Shadow detail is very poor and for the later scenes in the darkness of the jungle it is very difficult to make out much detail on the screen. Edge enhancement and shimmering also all reveal themselves. If there's any consolation it is probably in the colour renditioning. For the most part colours are very muted but close to natural on occasion. All in all this is not the greatest video representation on disc to justify a high definition release. The whole video affair screamed ultra-budget production qualities.
SoundThe audio on the disc is a plain vanilla Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack. There are no alternate language options to choose from nor are there any subtitle options. Viewers will therefore be left with English as the sole option. The budget nature of the film once again reveals itself and the whole mix is a very unadventurous affair. Dialogue dominates through the front stage and is on the whole smooth, clear and very direct. Volume levels are slightly subdued and you will probably have to reach to crank up the volume to a more comfortable listening level. Effects are extremely limited and the rear channels are infrequently used and for the most part are simply for background ambient sounds from within the jungle. Whilst the audio aspects of this disc are not great, it's fair to say it's enough to be in keeping with the whole film.
ExtrasThere are three options to choose from the special features menu.
Directors Commentary - (82mins) Jonathan Hensleigh presents what is best described as a rather mundane commentary to the movie. He fails to mention anything of Cannibal Holocaust, a film that Welcome to the Jungle clearly has drawn much from. The commentary is dissipated as there are some extended pauses in the commentary. As the film progresses the enthusiasm for the commentary does actually begin to tail off.
Trailer - (1min 57secs) A short theatrical trailer of the movie presented in standard defintion.
Deleted Scenes - (2min22secs) This is simply a short deleted scene of the two couples exploring each others company in Fiji before going on their ill-fated exploration hunt. The scene was meant to highlight Jonathan Hensleigh's style of direction as a pre-cursor to the main body of the movie. The scenes come with or without Director's commentary.
VerdictWelcome of the Jungle was apparently made on a budget of around $200,000 which in every sense of the movie-making world is not a lot of dosh to play around with. However, when you see claims that it is “quite possibly the most terrifying film of the last decade” blazoned across its cover you are led to believe something special may have been pulled off here.
Ruggero Deodato's Cannibal Holocaust was a disturbing horror film and what Jonathan Hensleigh has done here is an attempt to re-conjure something of a similar nature in the style of The Blair Witch Project. Unfortunately the end result doesn't emulate either movie and falls down on many counts. If you're expecting a horror movie, even in the vague sense of the word, you may well feel short changed by this movie. One of its fundamental flaws is that it could not be best described for the most part as a horror. The horror aspects are limited to an all too brief ending where the gore on offer simply lasts for under a minute.
As a disc package this blu-ray disc is equally disappointing. The handicam approach is quite poorly executed and the low-quality digital camera used for filming simply did not do justice to high definition as a format. The audio mix is a relatively straightforward offering and the extras on the disc are centred round a disappointing and uninspiring commentary.
Jonathan Hensleigh also directed 'The Punisher' so it is quite surprising that he undertook such a low budget project such as this. Those of you have seen The Blair Witch Project or the original Cannibal Holocaust will in all honesty find little to retain your interest on offer here. Those of you that haven't may draw something out of this film but I feel it is ultimately destined for the rental shelves or aimed towards a rather niche audience.
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