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Death Knot (Well Go USA) Blu-ray Review

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    Ian Jane
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  • Death Knot (Well Go USA) Blu-ray Review

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    Released by: Well Go USA
    Released on: January 17th, 2023.
    Director: Cornelio Sunny
    Cast: Djenar Maesa Ayu, Morgan Oey, Widika Sidmore
    Year: 2021
    Purchase From Amazon

    Death Knot – Movie Review:

    Cornelio Sunny’s 2021 horror film, Death Knot, made in the director’s native Indonesia, opens with a prologue where a woman walks into a forest, clearly distraught, ties a noose around her neck and then proceeds to hang herself from the limb of a tree.

    This woman turns out to have been the estranged mother of Hari (played by Sunny) and his sister Eka (Widika Sidmore), both of whom have had strange dreams wherein their mother warns them to stay away from the village that they grew up in. Regardless, when they learn of her death, they travel back to the small town to attend her funeral accompanied by Eka’s boyfriend (Moran Oey) and almost immediately upon their arrival are face to face with a horde of angry locals who are convinced that their mother was practicing black magic and that said black magic was the reason for various unusual deaths that have occurred in the town over the time she spent living there.

    The locals want Hari and Eka to leave and never to return again and see that their family home is torched, hoping that this will put a stop to the curse they believe their mother brought to the town. Kari and Eka, of course, believe this to be nothing but small town superstitious nonsense but when strange things start to happen around them, they do have to wonder if maybe the villagers are right about their mother after all.

    A slow burn folk horror picture made with some strong cinematography and very deliberate pacing, Death Knot won’t necessarily work for those who need their horror films to be filled with jump scares and gore. That said, if you can appreciate a character driven piece that show real concern for building proper tension and atmosphere, this just might be what you’re looking for. The movie does a nice job of making the main characters feel like fish out of water, with their trip from their home in modern Jakarta to the small town where their mother lived clearly taking them out of their element. Without the modern conveniences that they are used to, they find themselves almost going back in time to a certain degree, surrounded by people more concerned with ritual than technology.

    Although this was made on a modest budget and is almost entirely devoid of special effects work (which is rare in a genre picture), Cornelio Sunny, who co-wrote the movie with Ike Klose, does a pretty good job of keeping us involved in the story. There are some elements that will feel very familiar to seasoned folk horror fans and a little more originality would have gone a long way in this department, but the acting is pretty solid and the production values quite good. There’s a solid score to appreciate here as well.

    Overall, this isn’t a perfect film but it’s a strong one, particularly when you consider that it is Sunny’s directorial debut.

    Death Knot – Blu-ray Review:

    Death Knot arrives on Blu-ray from Well Go USA on a 25GB region free disc with the feature taking up 21.7GBs of space on the disc and framed at 1.78.1 widescreen. As this was shot in high definition on digital camera, the AVC encoded 1080p high definition picture doesn’t show any dirt, damage or grain. Colors are reproduced nicely and accurately and we get good black levels. Detail is generally strong here, though some scenes with fog look softer, obviously. Some mild compression artifacts can be spotted here and there but there aren’t any serious issues in that regard and all in all, this looks quite good.

    Audio for the feature is handled by an Indonesian language 16-bit DTS-HD 5.1 track, with optional subtitles offered in English only. Audio quality is strong, with solid bass response and good directional activity noticeable throughout the film. The rear channels are used nicely to build some appreciable atmosphere, while the score sounds really good. No problems with any hiss or distortion to note and the levels remain properly balanced throughout the film. An Indonesian Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo track is also provided.

    Extras are limited to a trailer for the feature, bonus trailers for Project Wolf Hunting, Unwelcome and They Crawl Beneath, menus and chapter selection options.

    Death Knot – The Final Word:

    Death Knot is a well-made piece of folk horror cinema that benefits from some strong cinematography and good performances, both of which help us to overlook the fact that it’s a little derivative at times. Well Go USA’s Blu-ray release is disappointingly light on extras but it does look and sound very good. Recommended for those who can appreciate slow burn genre pictures or who have an interesting in modern Indonesian horror pictures.


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

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