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Black Circle (Synapse Films) Blu-ray Review

    Ian Jane

  • Black Circle (Synapse Films) Blu-ray Review

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    Released by: Synapse Films
    Released on: September 5th, 2023.
    Director: Adrian Garcia Bogliano
    Cast: Erica Midfjall, Felice Jankell, Christina Lindberg, Inger Nilsson, Hanna Asp
    Year: 2018
    Purchase From Amazon

    Black Circle – Movie Review:

    Written and directed by Adrian Garcia Bogliano, 2019’s Black Circle sometime in the seventies opens with what is supposed to be archival footage from the Stockholm Institute For Magnetic Research's course that teaches people to use magnetism to overcome ailments and setbacks in life through hypnosis.

    From there, we cut to the present day where a successful businesswoman named Isa (Erica Midfjäll) meets with her younger sister Celeste (Felice Jankell), yet to climbs the heights of the corporate ladder that the elder sibling has. Isa tells Celeste that she owes her success to a record album put out by the aforementioned institute back in the seventies. Celeste isn't really buying it but obliges her sister when she insists that she listen to the second side of the record as part of a routine before going to bed each night.

    Initially, Celeste is surprised with how motivated and focused she is after trying ths, easily banging out a term paper she'd been putting off, but things get weird when she stops listening and hears from Isa that she's being followed by a doppelganger (Hanna Midfjäll) out to undo all that she's accomplished.

    It turns out that Isa isn't making this up - the record has allowed physical manifestations of the two sisters' negative side to arrive and wreak havoc. For help with this, the two sisters track down Lena Carlsson (Christina Lindberg), the original creator of the album who was altered of their impending arrival by a pair of psychics and Mårten (Hans Sandqvest), her right hand man. From here, all parties work together to try and get the doppelgangers back into the sisters' bodies before they become powerful enough to replace them.

    A bizarre but enthralling mix of science fiction and horror film tropes shot with a keen eye for composition and set to a great soundtrack, Black Circle is an interesting breath of fresh air. While it owes a little bit to seventies and eighties genre films that dabble in the dangers of eclectic science (think Scanners and the like), it always feels like something new and original. The visuals are really strong and the premise interesting enough to hold our attention and while the movie wasn’t made with a massive budget, Bogliano and company are savvy enough to ensure that this is never an issue by not overshooting with heavy effects set pieces.

    Instead, this pensive story relies more on a clever script and strong acting. Both Erica Midfjäll and Felice Jankell are very good here, bringing their characters to the screen with believability despite the somewhat unbelievable premise. The always iconic Christina Lindberg also does very strong work here, playing her scientist-type character quite well. Hans Sandqvest also delivers a strong supporting turn.

    Black Circle – Blu-ray Review:

    Synapse Films brings Black Circle to Blu-ray framed at 2.35.1 widescreen in an AVC encoded 1080p high definition transfer. Shot in 2018, with what look like old film inserts, the image is, of course, spotless where it’s supposed to be and, on the flip side, akin to an old film print when called for. Detail is quite strong throughout and color reproduction looks really nice. Skin tones are lifelike and natural and there are no problems with any compression issues, crush or edge enhancement. All in all, the movie looks really strong on Blu-ray.

    The Swedish language 24-bit DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio track on the disc sounds excellent. The track is clean, clear and properly balanced throughout and there are no problems with even a trace of hiss or distortion. Rear channels are used frequently to help build mood and atmosphere and to spread the score around.

    The main extra on the disc is an audio commentary with director Adrian Garcia Bogliano who speaks here about how his high school experiences affected his film career, getting the different cast members together for the movie, securing locations for the film, why certain scenes are shot the way they are, details on some of the wardrobe choices, where some of the ideas for the story came from, who did what behind the scenes, getting Inger Nilsson (who played Pippi Longstocking) in the movie, working with his producers, the use of music in the movie, the planning that went into making this feature and lots more.

    Don’t Open Your Eyes is an original short film that runs eleven minutes. It features some of the same cast members and follows a similar arc to the feature. It isn't complex as the feature version but it's still pretty cool and a nice inclusion.

    The interview with Adrian Garcia Bogliano and Christina Lindberg runs just over fifty-seven minutes and covers Lindberg's background and the early part of her career including her modelling and her entrance into the film industry, landing her first role in Maid In Sweden, her thoughts on sexuality in film, always trying to take her work seriously, how some of her films have been reevaluated over the years (especially Thriller), her work in Japan, how she feels about her career in hindsight and how her current life is very different than her past.

    Inside Black Circle is a behind-the-scenes featurette that runs nine minutes. It interviews Lindberg who talks about having more dialogue here than anything she'd worked on in the past. We also hear from Bogliano who speaks highly of working with Lindberg and some of the other cast and crew members. We get a look at a few key scenes being shot and we get a look at what it was like on set.

    The disc also includes an original teaser trailer, a still gallery, menus and chapter selection options. Included on a compact disc inside the case is the film’s entire soundtrack – always a nice bonus, particularly when the music is as good as it is for this film.

    Black Circle - The Final Word:

    Black Circle is atmospheric and intriguing, something a little different but nevertheless quite engaging. As interesting as it is well-made, it’s a movie worth seeking out and the Blu-ray edition from Synapse Films not only looks and sounds great but it contains a strong selection of extra features as well. Recommended!

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

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    Ian Jane
    Last edited by Ian Jane; 09-18-2023, 12:18 PM.
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