SRP $29.98 2.40:1 DOLBY DIGITAL PLUS 5.1 UNIVERSAL
 

UNIVERSAL has released the latest horror film from the creators of "SAW," "DEAD SILENCE" as an HD-DVD Combo release.  Judging from the numerous less than mediocre horror films that have been churned out over the past two decades, it may be harder to be original in this genre than most.  But, while "DEAD SILENCE" may not win points in originality, it's extremely well made and there are more genuine chills in it than in virtually any horror film released in the past couple of years.  A young man tries to solve the murder of his fiance, while being pursued by a detective.  While tracking down the origins of a ventriloquist's dummy, mysteriously left for him before the murder, to an old New England town, a darker mystery comes to surface. Unlike "SAW," the filmmakers here, have chosen to pay homage to the style of older, classic horror films like "THE OLD DARK HOUSE," and it surprisingly pays off.

UNIVERSAL has provided a 1080p/VC-1 transfer with 2.40:1 aspect ratio intact.  The cinematography is impressive, however, the image quality varies from scene to scene, providing some terrific "pop off the screen-like" moments, but a fair share of flat moments as well. Colors are intentionally subdued in key sequences, aspiring for a classic older horror film feel, but these tend to create some intrusive noise patterns. When compared to the standard dvd, offered on the other side, the hd-dvd is notably improved with deeper blacks and greater depth throughout.

UNIVERSAL has provided a Dolby Digital Plus 5.1 mix for the hd-dvd and Dolby Digital 5.1 mix for the dvd.  Much like the image, sound quality varies greatly. There are some terrific moments wherein discrete and panning effects come into play with chilling impact. However, there are more than a few instances wherein the mix just comes across as overbearing, and dialogue clarity suffers. When compared to the dvd, the standard Dolby Digital 5.1 mix appears to be more consistently balanced.

UNIVERSAL has provided a large number of supplements, including featurettes and deleted scenes. It's a shame that the alternate opening sequence wasn't included with a seamless branching option, as it actually improves the film.