Alien Strain
R2 - United Kingdom - 101 Films
Review written by and copyright: Samuel Scott (5th November 2015).
The Film

***This is an A/V and Extras review only. For reviews on the movie from various critics, we recommend visiting HERE.***

A new breed has arrived.

On a camping trip, Matthew's girlfriend Rachel was abducted by a UFO. A year later Rachel returns to the very spot from which she was taken but the creature she has become has Matthew fearing for his life.

Still haunted by her disappearance and subsequent return, Matthew now walks the bleak hallways of the Briarview Mental Institution. During one of his sessions with Dr. Charles Stewart, a memory is triggered that causes Matthew's fragile psyche to further split into a series of flashes of Rachel that he has never seen before; a reality where she wasn't taken at all, a reality where Matthew killed her.

Convinced that these new memories are being planted, Matthew must forge a battle in his own mind to prove that Rachel was taken and that she was not the only one. But if he cannot escape Briarview, he may be next.

Video

Independent British distributor 101 Films have released the low budget science fiction horror "Alien Strain" on to DVD in the United Kingdom using the original aspect ratio of 2.35:1. The transfer is anamorphic, and is adequate for a film of this ilk.

The main issue with the picture quality, is just how inconsistent it is from scene to scene. Whilst the occasional external day time scene can look exemplary, with strong details and vivid colours, darker scenes suffer from poor black levels which aren't deep enough, and some distracting digital noise not helped by the faux grain. Different locations have vastly different palettes, with external scenes sunkissed, and hospital scenes with some blueish tints. At times, the details in the darker scenes are not quite up to scratch either, particularly facial specifics and finer elements in the clothing. Shadow details also seem to suffer. Some of the longer shots have some mild banding, and I also spotted some minor aliasing in a couple of the more cluttered shots, like in the small checked design of the hospital floor. During the lead up to the transformation, there is some light blooming from the light coming from the windows (53:21), but it isn't overly distracting. As to be expected for such a new feature, there aren't any problems with regards to damage. Judging by the lack of issues in authoring and with compression, it would be fairly safe to assume that the majority of the niggling small issues found here can be traced to budgetary restraints in what equipment was used, and not due to anything 101 Films have done.

The feature is uncut and runs 79:07 PAL.

Audio

Two options are available here:
- English Dolby Digital 5.1
- English Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo

For my viewing I originally opted for the English Dolby Digital 5.1 track but found it to be so quiet in the surrounds it is at the point of non-existence. It was this that caused me to flick between the two tracks and ultimately sticking to the English Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo which was surprisingly much more adept. Dialogue had more oomph and clarity, and dare I say it, more depth. Sound effects increased in presence and the overall sound quality felt much improved. The lack of a decent 5.1 track is a shame though, as there are some nice tension building scenes where strong use of the surrounds could have increased the atmospheric elements. Still, there no issues with the 2.0 track that I noticed with regards to damage or background hiss, so this is an adequate if very underwhelming presentation overall.

No subtitles have been included.

Extras

Nothing unfortunately. A commentary with both directors would have been very welcome.

Overall

The film has some good ideas, but never quite manages to pull it together. The transformation scene is quite impressive, and the film is worth a look for genre fans, but most will want to rent it first.

Note: Audio score is for the 2.0 track, not the 5.1 track. See audio section for more details.

The Film: C Video: C Audio: C Extras: F Overall: C

 


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