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Audrey Rose (Arrow Video) Blu-ray Review

    Ian Jane

  • Audrey Rose (Arrow Video) Blu-ray Review

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    Released by: Arrow Video
    Released on: November 8th, 2022.
    Director: Robert Wise
    Cast: John Hillerman, Anthony Hopkins, John Beck, Marsha Mason, Susan Swift, Norman Lloyd
    Year: 1977
    Purchase From Amazon

    Audrey Rose – Movie Review:

    Written by Robert Wise, Audrey Rose would be easy to mistake for a straight up horror film based on the film's original trailer and artwork and while it definitely has plenty of horrific elements, it's really more of a psychological thriller with some oddball new age elements thrown into the mix.

    Based on the novel of the same name by Frank De Felitta (who also penned the film's screenplay), the film takes place in Manhattan where we meet Bill Templeton (John Beck), his wife Janice (Marsha Mason) and their daughter Ivy (Susan Swift). Their life seems normal enough until they start to notice that they're being followed by a stranger. Soon enough, this stranger introduces himself to them as Elliot Hoover (Anthony Hopkins) and tells them that his daughter Audrey Rose, who died at almost the same instant Ivy was born, has been reincarnated as their daughter. Naturally, they're suspect of his claims and they send him away, threatening to call the cops on him.

    Shortly after, however, Ivy starts having very vivid nightmares where she's trapped in a car wreck. So sever are these dreams that Bill and Janice have trouble bringing her down from them. Elliott does not. He witnesses one and is able to sooth her by reassuring her that 'it's daddy' and by referring to her as 'Audrey Rose.' The fact that Ivy's hands appear to have been burned when she was nowhere near anything hot enough to hurt her lends some credibility to this, but while Janice starts to wonder if Elliott might be onto something, Bill is quick to reject all of this.

    What starts off as a supernatural thriller soon turns into something more akin to a courtroom drama but Audrey Rose is a pretty interesting film and it definitely takes a very different approach to the supernatural/occult themed horror pictures that were all the rage when it was released. The film does play to our sympathies by putting the whole 'child in danger' aspect of the story front and center for much of its running time, exemplified by the aforementioned scene where Ivy's hands are burned. Additionally we get plenty of footage of her in the hospital and in various states of inconsolable terror, corrected only by Hopkins' character endlessly cooing at the poor kid. It's a bit overdone and it borders on the manipulative really, but if nothing else the movie does play its reincarnation angle completely straight and by doing so gets us to think about the ramifications of the situation from both a familial angle and a theological angle. Some have and will continue to take issue with the film's ending and it's fair to laud criticism to the way the film comes to a finish, but there's enough that works about what's explored in the film that we can look past this.

    Additionally, the performances are very strong across the board. John Beck and Marsha Mason are fine as the concerned parents. As Mason's character starts to wonder if Elliot might be right, she obviously becomes concerned and upset and we have no problem buying her in the part at all. Beck's character becomes more angry than anything else, frustrated with what's happening and how it's happening. He too does fine work here, his righteous anger fits the story and he's very believable. Hopkins comes close to overacting in scenes but never quite gets there and instead proves to be quite adapt at earning our sympathy in some scenes as well. He also manages to keep us guessing as to the sincerity and validity of his claims. Susan Swift is also fine as the perpetually endangered child at the center of all of this. TV fans will appreciate seeing none other than John Hillerman (best known as Higgins from Magnum P.I.!) in a supporting part as a lawyer.

    Audrey Rose – Blu-ray Review:

    Arrow Video brings Audrey Rose to Blu-ray on a 50GB disc and framed at 1.85.1 widescreen in AVC encoded 1080p high definition taken from a “brand new 2K restoration by Arrow Films from a new 4K scan of the original 35mm camera negative.” Overall, this is a nice transfer. This has always been a pretty grainy movie and that hasn’t changed with this reissue (Twilight Time previously put the movie out on Blu-ray back in 2014). Detail is pretty strong across the board, though some scenes look to have been shot intentionally soft. There’s good depth to the image and colors look really strong. We get nice, deep black levels and accurate skin tones while the image is free of any obvious noise reduction or compression issues. There isn’t much in the way of print damage to note aside from some small specks here and there.

    The only audio option offered for the feature is a 24-bit LPCM 1.0 Mono mix in the film’s native English, with optional subtitles provided in English only. Audio quality is pretty solid, with clean, properly balanced dialogue and a nice, crisp sounding score.

    Extras start off with a new audio commentary by film critic Jon Towlson that talks about the source material, biographical details on the cast and crew, comparisons to films like The Exorcist, Abby and The Sexorcist, the film's place in the occult movie boom of the seventies, thoughts on the performances and production values, how Hopkins developed his now well-known screen persona in this film, where the film's horror elements are effective and more.

    Faith And Fraud is a new interview with magician Adam Cardone about reincarnation and belief in Audrey Rose. This piece runs nineteen minutes and after he speaks about his work in magic and as a wizard he goes on to discuss the performances in the movie, whether or not a certain character is a con artist in the movie, thoughts on the different characters, if reincarnation is real in the movie or not and more.

    Never Birth Nor Death is a new featurette looking at the New York locations used in the film. Here, over four minutes, we see Central Park, the school featured in the picture, the main apartment building from the film and the court building as they appear in the film versus how they look in the modern day.

    I've Been Here Before is an archival visual essay by Lee Gambin looking at reincarnation in cinema that runs seventeen minutes and which is ported over from the Imprint Blu-ray release. It’s an interesting piece that traces different ways that the concept has been dealt with in key films over the years. A few other featurettes are also ported over from the Imprint release, including Investigator: The Paranormal World Of Frank De Felitta, which is an archival interview with the author and scriptwriter of Audrey Rose that runs just under twelve minutes and covers how he came to write the story and bring it to the big screen. The Role Of A Mother which is an archival interview with Marsha Mason that runs eighteen minutes and lets the actress share some memories from the shoot and offer her thoughts on the film and what it was like to work with the different cast and crew members. Hypnotist: Inside The Score For Audrey Rose is an archival interview with film music historian Daniel Schweiger running seventeen minutes that goes over what makes Michael Small’s score for the picture work as well as it does.

    Finishing up the extras on the disc is a theatrical trailer, an image gallery, menus and chapter selection options. As only a test disc was sent for review we can’t comment on packaging or inserts.

    Audrey Rose - The Final Word:

    Audrey Rose isn't your typical horror film but it is a well-made and occasionally very creepy thriller that features some very impressive performances and a smart, thought provoking script. It may very well be a product of its time, but for many of us that's a positive and those who like their suspense accompanied by some interesting food for thought should appreciate what Wise and company accomplished with this unique picture. The Blu-ray from Arrow Video offers up a solid presentation and a nice selection of extra features, making this a reissue that fans should appreciate.

    Click on the images below, or right click and open in a new window, for full sized Audrey Rose Blu-ray screen caps!

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