Cradle (The)
R1 - America - Genius Products
Review written by and copyright: Pat Pilon (14th September 2007).
The Film

Low-budget horror movies are a great way to try out new things. Nobody takes horror seriously, so if something bad happens, nobody cares. If something good happens, then people look up at a new talent. 'The Blair Witch Project' and 'Saw' are good examples. They cost next to nothing to make and were a sensation at the box office, proving that only originality and talent are needed for good horror movies. Unfortunately, I can't clump 'The Cradle' into that same category.

The movie starts off very well, with the first 40 minutes or so going by very quickly. The setup is very good. Recent parents come to a small house so he can write and she can, um, learn to be able to touch her baby. Right, okay. Then, the next half hour feels longer, as it has mostly people sitting or lying down, hearing things that aren't really there. The wife still can't touch her baby and the husband keeps talking to an old lady that is far from friendly and that doesn't want to talk to him. Right, um, sure. The last 20 minutes are very long, even though that's when most of the stuff happens. The payoff ultimately isn't worth the setup.

You don't really care for any of the characters. The wife (Emily Hampshire) starts off the movie by nagging and generally being annoying. By the time the movie really gets started, there's really nothing for you to hang on to for her. By contrast, the husband (Lukas Haas) seems clueless and lost. He never seems to know what's going on and seems stupid when things get going.

By extension, when the movie comes at a crossroads, it can either have the twist ending, which would make the writing look old and trite, or it can go the more traditional way and not have the twist ending, which would have made the writing look even more dumb and more pointless.

In the end, there's nothing really there to make you care. There's really good atmosphere but that's not enough. The tone is pretty creepy, but all you see are people sitting and running to a baby's bed. I mean, the best part of the movie, the angle with the old lady and her sister, ends up being nothing and giving way to a tired, predictable ending.

Video

1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen. The picture is good enough, but it's very dark. Lightening the picture would have given it more detail and clarity. As it is, it seems a bit flat and overall slightly softer than it should be. The low-budget roots, however, may have something to do with that. The colours are nice, though not as bright as they could be. This is not too bad because the palette is quite appropriate and it gives the movie some nice atmosphere.

Audio

Though the box says 5.1, the track is actually an English Dolby Digital 2.0 surround track. It's actually very good track, with plenty of use of the front speakers, on the left or right. The first few minutes has a car driving around, and that's what you hear from your speakers. The rest of the movie is generally quiet, with spots of quick jumps. The atmosphere is well-rendered, with the sparse score and effects. The dialogue is also very clear and centered, unmuffled. The only real problem with the track is that it's very low in volume and you have to pump up the volume much higher than you usually would.
Subtitles are not provided.

Extras

The only real worthwhile extra would be The Cradle - Behind the Scenes (20:01), though it's a typical EPK-style making of. You see lots of behind-the-scenes footage, which is the best part of this extra. The director comes in and talks about what he wanted to do with the movie. His ideas are nice, but they don't really add anything to the movie. He says that the movie is tense and there aren't any slow moments. Unfortunately, I don't feel the same way. Emily Hampshire and Lukas Haas also have some nice things to say about the director and the movie. The making-of is nothing special, and is 20 minutes long.

A bunch of trailers are next and that's it. The Original Theatrical Trailer (1:36) is a fairly good trailer, though having seen the film I can say it gives a bit too much away. The trailer is a good one, though, just keep in mind that you might be disappointed. The Trailers Gallery has trailers for 'Dead Mary' (1:40), 'Troubled Waters' (1:40), 'Alone with Her' (1:00), 'Pandemic' (1:34), 'Dangerous Isolation' (1:43) and 'Final Draft' (2:07).

Overall

The Film: C Video: B- Audio: B+ Extras: D+ Overall: C+

 


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