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Haunted Sideshow

Dustin Putman

Dustin's Blu-ray Review
Chilling Visions:
5 Senses of Fear
Reviewed by Dustin Putman

The Film
2.5 Stars
(Release Date: October 22, 2013) - Our five senses receive the anthology treatment in "Chilling Visions: 5 Senses of Fear," a tongue-in-cheek, all-grotesque collection of short films from Chiller Films and Scream Factory. In "Smell," directed by Nick Everhart, a down-on-his-luck office worker (Corey Scott Rutledge) sees a startling reversal of luck after receiving a mysterious bottle of cologne from a door-to-door saleslady (Hilary Greer). Using this "scent to die for," however, comes with steep consequences. In "See," directed by Miko Hughes, an optometrist (Ted Yudain) who steals the memories of his patients through their eyes becomes too involved for comfort in the life of an abused wife (Debra Jans). In "Touch," directed by Emily Hagins, a cunning blind boy (Caleb Barwick) sets off through the woods to get help when his parents are hurt in a car accident and wanders into the clutches of a serial killer. In "Taste," directed by Eric England, a young guy (Doug Roland) arrives at a slick corporation for what he assumes is a job interview, only to discover that headhunter Lacey Sharp (Symba Smith) is a real "man-eater." And, in "Listen," directed by Jesse Holland and Andy Mitton, a group of graduate students are tasked with piecing together in chronological order an infamous song called "Listen, My Children" that kills anyone who listens to it in its entirety.

The stories within "Chilling Visions: 5 Senses of Fear" stand alone, but reveal themselves to gradually be loosely related, all of them in some way connected to a sinister company called Watershed. As is usually the case with anthologies, the tales are a mixed bag, some better than others, but what they all have in common is a very clear sense of macabre fun. Tonally similar to "Tales from the Crypt," the shorts are creepy, yes, but do not take themselves completely seriously. The highlights are "Smell," which starts things off with a quirky, goopy bang; "Touch," anchored by the strong performance of Caleb Barwick as a blind boy who might be a germaphobic murderer's most formidable match, and "Taste," the boldest and scariest of the bunch. The other two do not fulfill their potential, with "See" coming off as a bit anticlimactic, and the choppy "Listen" pretty much wasting an absolutely sensational premise involving a killer song urban legend. "Chilling Visions: 5 Senses of Fear" may be uneven, but it is also creative and sly, certain to entertain horror fans.

Blu-ray Picture/Sound

"Chilling Visions: 5 Senses of Fear" premiered on the Chiller cable network in May 2013 and has now received an impressive 1080p Blu-ray release. As befits a brand-new film, the high-definition picture exhibits a palpable clarity and detail, much of it with a terrific layer of depth and a fine layer of grain. A few minor drawbacks do pop up, unfortunately, including a case of noticeable shimmer on a computer monitor in "Smell," random shots that appear out of focus (this may be inherent in the source), and a strange dot that appears for a few seconds during "Listen." Also, please note that "Listen" is set up as found footage and much of this segment looks to have been shot on black-and-white, consumer-grade video, the image intentionally littered with blocky artifacts, tracking fuzz, and the like. Audio comes in two forms: the DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio and a lossless 2.0 track. 2.0 has no noticeable issues and sounds very pleasing. The 5.1 is likely the way to go, but it should be noted that this is an understated surround track and only on a handful of cases takes advantage of the rear speakers (most effectively, when the blind boy hears a voice yelling, "Help me!" in "Touch").

Blu-ray Features
Delete Scene - "Smell" Segment (0:55, HD); Teasers and Trailers (3:26, HD)

Bottom Line
Scream Factory's Blu-ray release of "Chilling Visions: 5 Senses of Fear" continues the genre label's reign over all things horror, providing solid high-def video/audio for an anthology that doesn't look nearly as low in budget as it probably was. Special features are brief—a running audio commentary with the five talented writer-directors would have been a treat—but the film itself, while imperfect, is still a worthwhile sit during the Halloween season. "Chilling Visions: 5 Senses of Fear" comes recommended.

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© 2013 by Dustin Putman
Dustin Putman