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A secret admirer's crush on a high school athlete takes a fatal turn.
For more about Crush and the Crush Blu-ray release, see Crush Blu-ray Review published by Martin Liebman on April 14, 2013 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.5 out of 5.
Starring: Crystal Reed, Lucas Till, Sarah Bolger, Caitriona Balfe, Reid Ewing, Leigh Whannell
Director: Malik Bader
» See full cast & crew
Crush Blu-ray Review
Don't judge a PG-13 Chiller/Thriller by its packaging.
Reviewed by Martin Liebman, April 14, 2013
If befriending someone is easy, if liking someone is complicated, if loving someone is hard, then crushing -- really, deeply, heavily, relentlessly, crushing -- can be murder. Director Malik Bader's aptly titled Crush takes a peek inside the complicated inner-workings of crushers and their victims in what superficially looks like another watered-down, ultra-bland, terribly generic PG-13 Horror/Chiller in the mold of something like The Roommate (which, oddly enough, was penned by Crush Screenwriter Sonny Mallhi) but that is instead a surprisingly more complex and satisfying little venture into darkened minds and the terrible consequences that slowly reveal the harder they crush and the longer the obsession lingers, boils over, and explodes into a release of violence. It's a movie that could have been forgettably dull but is instead steady and at times even sublime, fully engrossing for its successful construction of inward character nuance within the larger, more general outward story. That isn't to say it's a masterpiece, but Crush proves significantly more well-rounded and developed than most similar teen-centric relationships-turned-deadly Chillers.
Bess (Crystal Reed) is the quiet new girl in school, the sort who is so invisible she can sit in class for months and never be noticed, later bumping into a classmate outside of school and being treated as if a total stranger. She's not a bad girl, but she does have something of an unhealthy obsession. No, it's not with shoes or chocolate, it's with Scott (Lucas Till), her school's handsome star soccer player. She anxiously awaits for her phone to alert her to his status updates and daydreams about him while at work, something that doesn't go unnoticed by her more mature co-worker Andie (Caitriona Balfe) who seems to understand crushes -- Bess' obsession -- all too well. Bess spends her time photoshopping herself into Scott's online pictures, trolling his Facebook page, and trying to see what he finds in his pretty gal girlfriend Jules (Sarah Bolger). A catastrophic knee injury changes Scott's outlook on life when his academic and athletic careers are threatened. He then aims to keep his distance from Jules but comes to learn that the local female population won't leave a guy of his caliber alone for too long. As he fends off admirers -- including Bess -- Bess finds herself the victim of a crush from the enigmatic Jeffrey (Reid Ewing) who claims to be the only one to fully understand her. With so many would-be star-crossed lovers and hopelessly crushing individuals in play, things just might get a wee bit dirty and bloody before the dust settles on a complex web of wannabe relationships.
Crush is easily one of the early surprises of 2013, not necessarily because it's a terrific A-grade movie but because it's a significant step in the right direction for a sub-genre that's been hard-pressed to turn out a quality film, never mind one with its roots in the sort of psychological undertones and quality filmmaking elements that are normally reserved for bigger pictures. The PG-13 Teenager Chiller/Thriller playing filed is littered with subpar, no-thought ventures that only disappoint in their repetitiveness, copycat natures, and mindless plot predictabilities. Crush certainly looks the same from the outside, but rather than feel limited to its rating, setting, and style, it plays to them, finding the strengths in the inner complexities of its characters, creating a subtly effective sexual undercurrent, and most important, delivering a surprisingly satisfying tale of obsessions -- layered obsessions from multiple angles and sources -- gone right and wrong both. Rather than one dimensional throwaway archetypes, Crush produces a diverse roster of characters who are quite a bit more complex than they superficially appear, contributing to the story -- its emotions, its dangers, and its complex dramatic processes -- in meaningful ways rather than acting as structural fodder to reach the expectedly bland ending. Crush plays with all of those same pieces, but it actually does something with them, something beyond clinging to cliché because it's easier on the filmmakers' end to do so, even if the end result at audience level is far less than satisfying.
Crush also manages to get it largely right from a technical perspective as well. The picture proves suitably stylish, not overdone in any way but certainly more flavorful than a general point-and-shoot affair, finding just the right level of involvement and photographic stylings to accentuate the themes and character feelings and solidify the story's more general attributes as well. It creates an honest, chilling vibe through its use of mood-effectve music that underscores the drama without suffocating it. The sum package helps give shape to the film's more basic characteristics, yielding what is a fairly steady output of darker emotional context in the way of intrigue, uncertainty, bad vibes, oddities, uneasiness, and danger. The cast is almost fully convincing as well. Lucas Till, who physically resembles a young Matt Damon, plays the part of the "jock" very well and in many ways novelly, largely eschewing stereotypes and building a real character driven by real life and not just convenient script clichés. Crystal Reed is the film's brightest asset, playing her part with an unmissable air of light outward creepiness but also a very nuanced sense of sensuality and perhaps even kindness and friendliness underneath her fairly unhealthy obsession. She makes it difficult to make sense of her character, in this case exactly what the role, and the film-at-large, needs.
Crush Blu-ray, Video Quality
Crush features an excellent high definition presentation. While it does take on that fairly glossy, lightly sterile look of HD video, the presentation on the whole looks remarkably good, even considering the slight inorganic nature of the thing. Details are exceptional, clarity is outstanding, sharpness is never a problem, and stability is top-notch. The image is clean and vibrant, showering the screen with naturally resplendent details from start to finish. Clothing and skin textures are naturally accurate, while every background element -- whether inside a slightly dim record store, outside a brightly lit theater at nighttime, or poolside -- shines. Colors are pure and accurate under any condition, including a dimmed theater, bright outdoor shots, or naturally warm interiors. Black levels are true and flesh tones never stray from where they should be, influenced only by the light. There are no major or, really, minor blemishes of note. This is an outstanding transfer from Millennium Entertainment.
Crush Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Crush features a proficient Dolby TrueHD 5.1 lossless soundtrack. This is a fine track in most every area, not really standing apart from the crowd but lingering with the best of the upper-tier tracks in its ability to convey most every detail accurately in pure lossless fashion. There's a positive surround immersion sensation at a soccer match early in the film, though the effect does take on a slightly detached feel depending on where the camera is in relation to the effect. Still, the total atmosphere is positive. Musical delivery is largely faultless, whether score, heavy dance beats at a party, or light background music at a record shop. There are precious few action-oriented effects in the film, but anything that rises above the level of music and dialogue comes through well enough. The spoken word represents the bulk of the presentation, and Millennium's lossless track delivers each syllable clearly and with fine natural placement. All in all, this is a very well-rounded soundtrack.
Crush Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Aside from Millennium Entertainment previews, Crush contains only one supplement. The Making of 'Crush' (HD, 21:10) begins in November 2011 and features cast and crew discussing the plot, its unique qualities, the characters and performances, Malik Bader's direction, filming the soccer scenes, and more.
Crush Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Crush won't have reserved seating at the Oscars, but it's on the fast-track to earn Teen-cenetered Thriller/Chiller genre film of the year for 2013. It's a breath of fresh air in a cinematic landscape populated by terribly unimaginative and repetitive pictures of teen angst and relationships gone wrong. Crush works through, not around, deeper characters with significant complexities and subtleties beyond the stereotypical façade, which themselves are not so frequent here. The filmmaking is smooth and the acting is quite good. Millennium's Blu-ray release of Crush is disappointingly short in extras, but it does deliver rock-solid video and audio. Recommended.
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