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Artisan Home Entertainment presents
"Who am I? Who are you?"
DVD ReviewNightscream is one of those dumb little made-for-television flicks that seems to exist only to parade around a child star-turned-adult (Candace Cameron Bure, from Full House) for our curious viewing pleasure, and wrap her in a ridiculously twisty story that presents itself like a ghost story (look at that cover art), though it is really more of thriller, or at least a wannabe thriller.
Twenty-something Drew Summers (Bure), as we learn in the opening sequence, is prone to weird visions of the murder of a young woman, though the fact that this seems to contradict the real plot is apparently inconsequential. Still, young Drew mysteriously arrives in the town of Steveston, Oregon on the one year anniversary of the murder of (dun-dun-dunnn) the very same young woman that she has had visions about. Things get weirder when Drew, who bears a striking resembles to the woman from her vision, suddenly begins to seemingly channel her voice and spirit as well. Suffice it to say, this does not sit well with the mother (Teri Garr) of the murdered woman, who believes it to be some divine sign that her dead daughter is trying to communicate from beyond the grave.
She's a little whiny, but Bure is more than tolerable as Drew, and in between the hilarious scene-chewing of Denis Arndt as the distraught father and the stiff reads by unnaturally square-jawed Casper Van Dien as the framed boyfriend, she seems the least distracting of the cast. And poor perpetually cheery Teri Garr, here needlessly relegated to the pointless role of the grieving mother, simply looks out of place and embarrassed.
Based on the book The Soul of Betty Fairchild by Robert Specht, Nightscream trots out a limited palette of one-dimensional characters, and the act of identifying the killer should be a no-brainer for anyone who has ever sat through a film like this. All of the stock elements are here, from swirling ground fog, to lost diaries, to creepy gazebos, as well as a few mediocre red herrings. Director Noel Nosseck is a veteran of the television movie genre, and in his defense he delivers the kind of familiar final product that moves along the same tried and true tired track, just like so many other anonymous titles that crop up endlessly on Hallmark or Lifetime.
Rating for Style: C+
Rating for Substance: C
Image Transfer Review: Not surprisingly, Artisan has presented Nightscream in its original 1.33:1 full-frame, made-for-television aspect ratio. The print is far from perfect, and its worst crime is that it is littered with a lot of white specks and dirt, as well as some blocky grain during the foggy night shots. Black levels are a little off in spots, but aside from that, color reproduction is actually fairly accurate and generally pleasing. Fleshtones look natural, and the daylight sequences look more than presentable.
Image Transfer Grade: C+
Audio Transfer Review: A lifeless but clean 2.0 surround track is the only audio option here. This is all front channel action, and I might as well have completely disconnected my rear speakers and used them for footrests during this one. Except for the annoying title sequence, where all of the actors names whoosh in and out loudly, the bulk of the presentation is on par with what you would expect from a low-rent television movie. Dialogue is always audible and understandable, but the soundstage has no real depth or any sort of proper spatial dimension to it.
Audio Transfer Grade: B-
Disc ExtrasStatic menu
Scene Access with 17 cues and remote access
Extras Review: My biggest fear as a reviewer is that a DVD like this will be loaded with extra features and commentaries, which would only prolong my viewing experience. Thankfully, Artisan has only provided 17 chapter stops.
Extras Grade: F
Final CommentsTypical made-for-television fare, full of truck-sized plot holes and unsatisfying final acts. I suppose Full House fans will get a charge out of seeing Candace Cameron "all growed up" (and having television-sanitized-alluded-to-sex, at that), but for the most part this pseudo-ghost story just doesn't cut it, despite a potentially intriguing premise.
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