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Blu-ray Review The Hunger Blu-ray Review (1 Viewer)

Matt Hough

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The Hunger Blu-ray Review

There is considerable style and lots of flash but little of substance, cohesion, and comprehension in Tony Scott’s premiere feature film The Hunger. Attempting to put a new spin on vampire films, The Hunger has an excellent central concept but has plotting that lets down its core conceit, and performances are all over the map. It’s often beautiful to watch, and the film undoubtedly has its moments, but it’s not ultimately satisfying, and those looking for a regulation horror film have come to the wrong address.



Studio: Warner Brothers

Distributed By: N/A

Video Resolution and Encode: 1080P/AVC

Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1

Audio: English 2.0 DTS-HDMA

Subtitles: English SDH

Rating: R

Run Time: 1 Hr. 36 Min.

Package Includes: Blu-ray

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Disc Type: BD50 (dual layer)

Region: All

Release Date: 08/18/2015

MSRP: $21.99




The Production Rating: 2.5/5

Millennia old vampire Miriam Blaylock (Catherine Deneuve) and her mate John (David Bowie) prowl the trendy clubs in New York City looking to feed once a week. Otherwise, they live a quiet and cosmopolitan existence in a large mansion on the Upper East Side. But John begins to feel the effects of aging after two centuries of what he thought was to be eternal youth, and nothing he seems to do can stop his body from rapidly deteriorating. He even consults scientist Sarah Roberts (Susan Sarandon) who is making a study of premature aging. She sloughs him off as a crackpot but later comes to regret doing that, and when calling for him at his address in order to make amends, she meets the alluring Miriam who now has chosen the person whom she’d like to spend the next couple of hundred years.

 

The premise for the screenplay by Ivan Davis and Michael Thomas (based on the novel by Whitley Strieber) is a sound one for a vampire movie: the notion that the creator stays eternally youthful but the creations don’t and must be discarded and replaced with fresh blood (no pun intended) every few centuries causing anguish for both parties. But the writers don’t know where to go with their premise. They allow John to age too rapidly to milk his agony and desperation and fury (Miriam had promised eternal life, but from the looks of her attic, she’s got many former partners now in storage up there). And why isn’t Miriam more frantic to try to save her beloveds? Possibly over the centuries she’s found it futile, but why not show that? (There are certainly other mini-flashback moments about Miriam and John’s first meeting, for example, so other flashbacks could have been possible to flesh out the story much more reasonably). And the film’s climax finds a movie that’s completely falling apart with nonsensical events occurring in a vampire mythology that’s been so inadequately developed. For his part, director Tony Scott helming his first movie after directing for television and commercials brings an MTV kind of vibe to the imagery: lots of quick cuts: some alluring, some disturbing, acid rock music to start the show contrasted with excerpts from the classical Lakmé during the lovemaking scenes between the two gorgeous women, and an overabundance of smoke, filters, soft focus, fluttering pigeons, and billowing sheer curtains. He also makes it a point to mix his media: there are continual cut-ins with television broadcasts, closed circuit television feeds, slide shows and still shots superimposed over faces, all in an effort to give the film a kind of dazzling visual variety. It can be dazzling, even provocative, but without it being in service to decent storytelling, it’s rather empty.

 

Catherine Deneuve is the walking embodiment of female allure, but she also walks through the picture in a sort of daze with her facility with English somewhat lacking and seemingly devoid of real commitment throughout (though some of that indifference could be in the script). Much better is David Bowie as the victim of cruel fate aging before our eyes in a waiting room and searching for answers where none are offered. Susan Sarandon takes the prize here for diving right into the mix as a dedicated scientist and later as a woman who doesn’t understand the grip of the power that’s controlling her. Beth Ehlers is delightful as a spunky teenager who plays chamber music with Miriam and John while Cliff De Young as Sarah’s fellow scientist and lover has a couple of good scenes, too. Dan Hedaya does his usual solid work as the detective investigating a mysterious disappearance, and look closely and you’ll see John Pankow and Willem Dafoe in bit roles on the street.



Video Rating: 4.5/5  3D Rating: NA

The film’s Panavision widescreen photography is framed here at 2.40:1 and is presented in 1080p resolution using the AVC codec. Sharpness is difficult to ascertain since the film prides itself on sequences featuring soft focus and heavily filtered photography, but scenes that should be sharp certainly are sharp. Likewise color can be very strong (red comes through very well), but there are plenty of moments where color has been desaturated deliberately. Black levels vary due to the shifting contrast, but at their strongest, black levels are very fine. The movie has been divided into 23 chapters.



Audio Rating: 4/5

The DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 mono sound mix offers the mix that was likely heard in theaters. It’s a solid, artifact-free audio mix with clear dialogue, atmospheric effects that can sometimes be loud but are not distorted, and a mix of classical music, rock sounds, and some score by Michel Rubini and Denny Jaeger.



Special Features Rating: 1.5/5

Audio Commentary: random comments have been assembled into a commentary track featuring (separately) director Tony Scott and co-star Susan Sarandon.

 

Theatrical Trailer (2:05, HD)



Overall Rating: 2.5/5

The Hunger doesn’t achieve everything it might have with a more thoughtfully developed script, but it’s artful in its presentation, and it’s always a pleasure to look at and listen to even when the narrative line deteriorates as quickly as the aging lovers of Ms. Deneuve’s Miriam.


Reviewed By: Matt Hough


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Mark-W

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Thanks for the fantastic review, Matt!


You aptly detail the strengths and weaknesses of this film. I also find your comments about what it could have been quite good.


I readily admit I love this film for its style, which is now as much nostalgia as it is memories of watching it with friends who have gone the way of David's character.


I read the book because I found the ending so nonsensical and learned

Miriam is another species and not a vampire in the traditional sense. The ending in the book , while much more logical, was actually quite anti-climatic.


I find the end of the movie more satisfying. As weird as it is, it operates on the assumption that Miriam's cannot die and that there is "no release," which becomes its own sort of hell. Miriam stays young so long as she keeps her past lovers in a permanent state of imprisoned decrepitude. I think seeing Miriam "win" would've been too much for audiences, but having Sarah become the next Miriam did not make sense either, appearing to have taken lovers of both sexes in the end and developing a taste for a life of leisurely elegance her character never demonstrated an interest in before the finale.


I will add that I loved how these bloodsuckers don't grow fangs or transform. I also know more than a few folks that wanted Ankh pendants after seeing this film. Axel Rose even had one made with a blade just like the ones in the film.


This movie absent it's visual style has nothing to offer. I do love it as visual and aural experience. Still, I would never recommended this film to anyone that does not have an obsession with at least one of the three leads or perfume commercials from the 80s.
 

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