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A Blade in the Dark

4K Ultra HD

Blu Ray

  • Score
    80
    from 1 reviewers
    Review Date:
  • In 'A Blade in the Dark', intrigue over 'Linda' amid lackluster, budget-tight storytelling leads to a nutty end.

    A Blade in the Dark 4K UHD Blu-ray Front Cover

    Disc Release Date:

    True 4K
    HDR10
    DTS-HD MA
  • Video
    80
  • A Blade in the Dark's 4K UHD presents two versions from 16mm negatives, offering detailed, film-like imagery with vibrant colors and deep blacks, enhancing textures and depth, despite minor imperfections.

  • Audio
    80
  • Both Italian and English 2.0 DTS-HD MA audio tracks provide a mild clarity boost, particularly in Italian, with well-defined dialogue, clear scoring ranging from piano to synth for suspense, and appreciable sound effects.

  • Extra
    75
  • This release includes in-depth essays, extended cut with commentaries, interviews offering insights into the creative process, a visual essay, and trailers, highlighting the technical and artistic achievements behind A Blade in the Dark.

  • Movie
    60
  • In A Blade in the Dark, Bava crafts a late-era giallo focusing on suspense and violence within a single location, blending unsettling violence and mystery amid a somewhat stagnant narrative.

    Video: 80

    A Blade in the Dark" shines in its 4K UHD presentation, boasting an impressive restoration from the original 16mm negatives that faithfully enhances the film's visual textures and depth. The meticulous transfer process ensures a presentation that is as detailed as technologically possible, striking a perfect balance between preserving the film's original grain and delivering crisp images. This is particularly evident in close-ups, where the skin details are remarkably clear, and in the nuanced depth of the villa interiors, which adds a palpable sense of atmosphere to the film. The costuming benefits from this attention to detail as well, with fabrics displaying a realistic texture that contributes to the overall authenticity of the period setting.

    Color reproduction in this UHD edition is notable for its vibrancy and accuracy. The bold reds, integral to the film's numerous murder sequences, are rendered with a vigor that enhances their impact, while not overshadowing the subtler hues of the elaborate costumes that pop with lively primaries. This careful color balancing extends to the serene blues of pool scenes, contributing to a richer, more immersive viewing experience. The transfer handles highlights with finesse, ensuring that the image retains its natural look without succumbing to over-saturation.

    Moreover, black levels are profoundly deep and exhibit excellent delineation, adding to the film's suspenseful ambiance. This visual quality is consistent throughout, owing to a source that remains in commendably good condition, despite the minor appearance of some film artifacts such as hairs. These slight imperfections do not detract from the overall viewing experience but rather serve as reminders of the film's age and journey to the present day.

    Audio: 80

    The audio presentation of "A Blade in the Dark" on its 4K UHD Blu Ray edition is serviced through dual 2.0 DTS-HD Master Audio tracks, available in both Italian and English. These tracks demonstrate a nuanced enhancement in auditory detail, particularly notable in the Italian version which offers a slightly superior level of clarity. The precision in dialogue delivery across both languages captures the essential emotional tonality and the nuances of dubbed performances admirably, ensuring that the narrative's tension and character dynamics are effectively communicated through the vocal performances alone.

    In terms of musical score and sound effects, the audio tracks handle these elements with commendable fidelity. The score, ranging from the delicate sounds of piano to more robust synth-driven compositions, is reproduced with a distinctive clarity that augments the film's atmospheric tension. These compositions are skillfully layered within the mix, demonstrating a balanced integration with dialogue and sound effects to enhance the suspenseful moments without overwhelming them. Sound effects, though perhaps not as sharply defined as in more recent productions, still bring a satisfying level of impact to the audio experience. Their bluntness contributes an authentic charm to the horror ambiance, grounding the suspense in a tangible auditory reality.

    Overall, while these 2.0 DTS-HD MA tracks may not push the boundaries of what modern audio technologies can offer, they present a solid and immersive auditory experience that serves "A Blade in the Dark" well. The attention to maintaining clarity in dialogue, coupled with the effective use of music and sound effects to heighten suspense, exhibits a proficient employment of audio to complement the film's visual horror. The subtleties in audio enhancements, especially noticeable in the Italian track, ensure that both linguistics options offer a commendable auditory experience for the viewer.

    Extra: 75

    The 4K UHD Blu-ray extras of "A Blade in the Dark" exceed expectations for fans and cinephiles alike, catering to both technical enthusiasts and those intrigued by the film's historical context. The collection is meticulously curated, combining contemporary interviews with those involved in the creation of this iconic film, alongside deeper dives into its thematic roots and genre significance. Notably, the inclusion of two distinct commentaries provides a multi-faceted analysis from film historians and enthusiasts, enriching the viewing experience. The extended and theatrical cuts offer a unique comparison, while the detailed booklet and documentaries, particularly "All the Colors of Giallo", expand understanding of the Giallo genre. Technical discussions, particularly from the cinematographer and screenwriter, alongside a visual essay, illuminate both the technical prowess and creative challenges behind the film. This compilation not only celebrates but thoroughly examines the legacy and craftsmanship of "A Blade in the Dark".

    Extras included in this disc:

    • Booklet: Features essay by Alexandra Heller-Nicholas, Dana Reinoos, and Caroline Kopko.
    • Extended Cut
    • Commentary #1: Features The Hysteria Continues.
    • Commentary #2: Features film historian Kat Ellinger.
    • House: An interview with screenwriter Dardano Sacchetti.
    • Lights in an Empty House: An interview with cinematographer Gianlorenzo Battaglia.
    • Don't Go Down the Stairs: An interview with director Lamberto Bava.
    • The Gothic Slashers of Lamberto Bava: A visual essay by Samm Deighan.
    • Trailer #1 and Trailer #2
    • Theatrical Cut
    • All the Colors of Giallo: A documentary directed by Federico Caddeo.
    • Behind the Blade: A documentary featuring interviews with director Lamberto Bava and screenwriter Dardano Sacchetti.

    Movie: 60

    In Lamberto Bava's "A Blade in the Dark," set amidst the waning interest in giallo films of the early 1980s, a palpable effort is made to invigorate the genre within the confines of a single location. The narrative locks viewers in with Bruno (Andrea Occhipinti), a film composer seeking solitude in a remote villa to work on a horror movie soundtrack. This setting becomes the backdrop for a series of eerie occurrences as Bruno encounters various visitors, each introduction threatening to disrupt his creative process, whilst unsuspectingly drawing him into a real-life mystery. The film endeavors to blend suspense with a series of disruptions, portrayed through encounters with characters who range from a frisky neighbor to Bruno's own girlfriend, further complicating the secluded composer’s situation. These interruptions, rather than detracting, enrich the storyline, providing depth and intrigue.

    The execution of suspense in "A Blade in the Dark" arguably leans more towards traditional giallo tactics, utilizing violence to punctuate the film’s tension rather than relying on psychological terror or intricate plotting. The recurring motif of a small box cutter as the weapon introduces a gruesome element that occasionally escalates in graphic intensity. However, Bava’s approach to suspense is at times hindered by the film’s pacing, with protracted scenes of exploration and investigation leading to a sense of inertia. Despite these moments, when the film focuses on its central mystery and engages with its potential for tension, it manages to deliver satisfying narrative twists that keep the audience intrigued.

    The film is made available in two distinct versions – an Extended Italian T.V. Edit and a Theatrical Cut – offering viewers insights into different facets of its storytelling and production nuances. This accessibility highlights Bava's ability to craft a giallo thriller that, despite its shortcomings in pacing and occasional predictability, showcases its dedication to the genre’s core elements: suspense, mystery, and an undercurrent of horror intertwined with everyday encounters. "A Blade in the Dark" ultimately stands as a commendable attempt to sustain the giallo tradition within its era, anchored by commendable performances and a keen use of its singular setting.

    Total: 80

    A Blade in the Dark," presented in 4K UHD Blu-Ray, unravels an enigmatic narrative that gravitates around the mystery of the unseen Linda, whose identity is teased through slaughtered victims' last words, the pages of Katia's diary filled with her affection for Snoopy stickers, and cryptic recordings that lead protagonist Bruno on a fraught investigation. Director Lamberto Bava strives to blend stylistic flourishes within the constraints of a modest budget, aiming to transcend beyond the usual horror spectacle. Despite these ambitions, the film often grapples with sluggish pacing and narrative filler, which dilutes the tension and suspense integral to its genre. The movie meanders through its plot, accumulating a baggage of uneventful sequences before it reaches its bizarre yet somewhat satisfying conclusion.

    The high-definition 4K UHD presentation accentuates the film's visual and auditory elements, potentially enriching the viewer's experience with crisper visuals and more immersive sound. However, even with this technological enhancement, the core issues of pacing and plot engagement remain, unaffected by the gloss of high-definition remastering. This paradox highlights a critical aspect of film consumption: technical brilliance cannot always compensate for fundamental storytelling inadequacies.

    In conclusion, while "A Blade in the Dark" benefits from the 4K UHD Blu-Ray treatment in terms of technical quality, it ultimately falters in delivering a consistently engaging horror narrative. The film is mired by its slow build-up and reliance on filler content which detract from the climax's impact. Despite Lamberto Bava's evident efforts to inject flair into the production, the movie struggles to fully realize its potential as a captivating thriller. This release may still appeal to genre aficionados and collectors, but general audiences might find it a challenging and ultimately unsatisfying view.