An Hour to Kill [Blu-ray]
Blu-ray ALL - America - Rotten Productions
Review written by and copyright: James-Masaki Ryan (11th January 2020).
The Film

"An Hour to Kill" (2018)

Gio (played by Aaron Guerrero) and Frankie (played by Frankie Pozos) are hitmen that are given an assignment from their mob boss Mr. Kinski (played by Mel Novak), in which they literally have an hour until they can carry out the assignment. During the time the two end up telling three stories of horror and mayhem to make time pass.

First is "Valkyrie's Bunker", in which five young girls (played by Amanda Rau, Jola Cora, Stephanie Strehlow, Alexya Garcia, and Sarah Gordy) go to an old abandoned bunker covered in graffiti which is rumored to be an old Nazi bunker where Hitler escaped to during the war. Second is "Assacre", taking place at a burrito eating contest where YouTuber Brendan (played by Brendan Mitchell) gives Jake (played by Brian Reagan) the most extreme hot pepper for a challenge. Last is "Hog Hunters", which a team of bowlers (played by Michael Camp, Kevin C. Beardsley), Chris Morris, and Joe McQueen) go out of town looking for some "big" women and get much more than they bargained for...

"An Hour to Kill" plays the anthology horror game, in the vein of "Black Sabbath" (1963), "Creepshow" (1982), "Three Extremes" (2004), and many others. While those films had great style, budgets, and large names attached with the cast and crew, "An Hour to Kill" is as indie as it can get, made on a very low budget with no major stars and some of the performers basically playing iterations of themselves. The performances are not particularly top notch award winning. The effects are simple with gunshots not even having squibs or visual blasts. Camerawork is not inspired. Things are not well choreographed. Shots, colors are inconsistent throughout. This is not the best looking or most well made film and there are student films that are much higher in quality. But there is the charm of the DIY aspect and seeing it through the eyes of people looking for something outside of the mainstream. There is a good amount of weird violence and gore in the vein of Troma. There is a laughable aspect in how some of the inept portions that are asking for a "Mystery Science Theater 3000" commentary. (Isn't it just perfect that Jake had exactly $50 in his pocket at that time? Why is Frankie's forehead cut off from the framing for no reason? And a lot more can be said.)

The three mini movies are completely different shorts, but the script does an actual fair job with linking them together with Gio and Frankie's sequences. Things they drive by and things they mention become the basis of the two telling each other the bizarre tales to each other. Getting some Mexican food inspires the story of the burrito eating contest, the chowing down by Frankie reminds Gio of the story of the hogs. But how do the shorts stack by themselves?

"Valkerie's Bunker" starts off quite well with the five girls and their banter, and while the creepiness of the location should do things justice, it never feels scary or tense. It's in broad daylight incredibly brightly lit, with no use of light and shadows to intensify the atmosphere, and the ending is anti-climatic to say the least. Where the story was going with the disappearance of each girl one by one was great, but the abrupt ending felt unsatisfactory to say the least. "Assacre" is more on the comical side, with inspiration more from Brendan Mitchell's persona seen on his YouTube page WetMovie1 where he is vlogging for some of the short and having the character of Jake trying to make a video as well. There is a little inspiration from "Stand By Me" and the infamous pie eating contest, though this short turns into a literal bloodbath and it may be disgusting but it's more on the comical side. There isn't a clear reason why the character of Brendan sells Jake the super hot pepper, or even where he got it from, but it's all about the ending on this one rather than the exposition. "Hog Hunters" is a genre hopper, as it mixes a little of "The Island of Dr. Moreau" and "Deliverance" while also toeing the line of racial tension. Three redneck bowlers recruiting a scrawny black guy as a team member, then taking him on an "initiation" to a farm seems like a recipe for disaster, but instead an attack of half-pig half-human creatures lead to a bizarre twist. The three stories have their ups and downs and the third might be the best made as it takes some interesting choices, makes the right choice setting things at night and having some intensity in the content while also having a comical edge.

As stated "An Hour to Kill" was made on a low budget and not much was done to make the production look particularly good. Color correction is basically not applied with lighting being inconsistent from scene to scene or shot to shot. No filters, no color tones, and things being overly brightly lit for many of the scenes look straight from a home video rather than a full fledged Hollywood production. Camerawork, sound, and performances can look poor and audiences may think to themselves "I could do better than this!" But therein lies the inspiration for people to make their own productions, such as what writer/director Aaron K. Carter did here. It's not perfect, it's not that great either. There are things that are awkwardly cringy and others that give out some decent laughs. "An Hour to Kill" might not catch on with mainstream audiences and might have worked better if some of the short films were fleshed out more and if the production was better made, but the world of movies is not only big budget productions, art house films, or experimental films, but it's sometimes good to sit back and see a microbudget indie horror such as this.

Note this is a region ALL Blu-ray.

Video

The film is presented in the 1.78:1 aspect ratio, in 1080i 60hz AVC MPEG-4. The interlaced transfer is a questionable one, as it seems to have been shot progressively in 24fps but is presented interlaced in 30fps, so there is a bit a blur in movement. To note, this is not exactly the best looking production, with inconsistent lighting throughout and sharpness depends on the shot and scene. Brightness is always a bit too high and black levels never get truly dark. Pixelation can be seen in certain darker sequences or indoors. Giving the production a progressive transfer may have improved one aspect, but other than that, it looks as good as it could on a high definition format.

The film's runtime is 96:15.

Audio

English Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo
The sound is a basic stereo track in lossy Dolby Digital. The stereo separation is barely noticeable, with all dialogue, effects, and music being almost entirely centered, sounding closer to a mono track. Dialogue is mostly clear but there are some fidelity issues with the limitation of the production, with some louder moments sounding slightly distorted. There seems to be no ADR done with all sound and effects coming from the actual shoot, resulting in some echoes, distortion, hiss, and other problems which can be found in many non-professional shoots. There are a few foley effects such as the gunshots and overlayed music tracks, and to be noted, they are fairly well balanced against the dialogue track.

There are no subtitles offered for the feature.

Extras

"The Pick-up Artists" featurette (18:12)
Shot by Brandon Mitchell in 2017, this short featuring some of the cast and crew at a seminar led by Arash Dibazar and Vince Kelvin on how to pick up ladies and later a fun and wild night at a strip club. The video can be seen on Mitchell’s WetMovie1 YouTube page here.
in 1080i 60hz AVC MPEG-4, in 1.78:1, in English Dolby Digital 2.0 with no subtitles

"The Making of Assacre" featurette (13:47)
Shot by Mitchell, this featurette focuses on the “Assacre” portion, with the special effects, the shooting at the Mexican restaurant, at the laundromat, and more. The video can also be seen on Mitchell’s WetMovie1 YouTube page here.
in 1080p AVC MPEG-4, in 1.78:1, in English Dolby Digital 2.0 with no subtitles

"The Hog Stripper" featurette (16:24)
Again shot by Mitchell, this is a behind the scenes look at the final strip club sequence in the film. In addition they take the “Hog Princess” as they call her to a supermarket for some fun, and there’s a slightly awkward look at Mitchell trying out the stripper pole himself. The video can also be seen on Mitchell’s WetMovie1 YouTube page here.
in 1080i 60hz AVC MPEG-4, in 1.78:1, in English Dolby Digital 2.0 with no subtitles

"The Premiere" featurette (18:13)
Shot again by Mitchell, the premiere held on June 12, 2018 was at a small venue where the cast and crew and others filled the room where some people had to stand for the screening. In addition there are some interviews with the cast post screening outside and at the after party. The video can also be seen on Mitchell’s WetMovie1 YouTube page here.
in 1080i 60hz AVC MPEG-4, in 1.78:1, in English Dolby Digital 2.0 with no subtitles

Trailer (1:26)
The trailer does a basic job setting up the absurdities to be seen in the production with narration, but it does give away a bit too much even in its short runtime. Interestingly the trailer is in 1080p rather than 1080i as the film itself was. The trailer has been embedded below.
in 1080p AVC MPEG-4, in 1.78:1, in English Dolby Digital 2.0 with no subtitles




All of the featurettes are from Mitchell's perspective so aspects such as the writing, the casting, and other production details are not to be found here. A commentary or more in depth interviews would have been welcome.

Packaging

This is a burned-on-demand single layer BD-R, limited to only 100 copies. The packaging makes no mention of the special features which was a surprise. There are also no specs listed, with the back mistakenly listing "NTSC" next to the Blu-ray logo.

Overall

"An Hour to Kill" is by no means a masterpiece of indie horror, with the homemade look and appearance with amateur performances and questionable takes by some of the characters. It's still playful with the dark humor and there are some positive points to be said. The Blu-ray itself is not the best of quality with the lossy audio track and the interlaced transfer and the extras can all be found on YouTube, making the disc difficult to recommend.

The disc being limited to 100 copies makes it a very hard find physically, but for those interested, there are other ways to see the film. It is also available on DVD as a double feature with the director's film "Dead Kansas" at Oldies.com, available for streaming on Amazon Prime US and Amazon Prime UK, and on Troma Now.

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

 


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