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Five college kids are forced to match wits with mysterious, hostile residents when they fly to a "deserted" island for a party weekend. With the discovery of a mauled, bloodied and shredded body, the group quickly realizes they are not alone. A race against time becomes an intense battle for survival between Man and Beast, and only one species will survive.
For more about The Breed and the The Breed Blu-ray release, see the The Breed Blu-ray Review published by Dustin Somner on May 16, 2009 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.0 out of 5.
Starring: Michelle Rodriguez, Oliver Hudson, Taryn Manning, Eric Lively, Hill Harper
Director: Nicholas Mastandrea
» See full cast & crew
The Breed Blu-ray Review
Can a film about killer dogs generate sufficient scares on Blu-ray?
Reviewed by Dustin Somner, May 16, 2009
In recent years, the horror genre has been flooded with disappointing teen slasher movies; so I found myself approaching this film with a certain degree of skepticism. After all, if Hollywood can't produce a quality big budget horror film, why would we expect to see better from a low budget creation like The Breed. I suppose I should have given the film more credit considering it was produced by Wes Craven, but even the horror master himself is capable of a misstep every now and again. Fortunately for us, The Breed is not simply a boring addition to the slasher genre, and manages to occasionally rise above it's low-budget roots to deliver some thrills.
Matt (Eric Lively) and John (Oliver Hudson) have inherited a cabin on a remote island they used to visit as young boys. The brothers invite 3 friends to vacation with them at the island, which is only accessible by seaplane. After an afternoon of fun in the sun, the young vacationers befriend a young puppy that appears to be a native to the island. Events soon take a turn for the worst when the puppy is joined by a pack of rabid dogs that have claimed the island as their own. The group of college friends soon find themselves in a race for survival against man's best friend.
If you're a dog lover like me, you might be wondering how compelling a horror film with mans-best-friend could really be. Cujo aside, we've grown accustomed to films with killer snakes, spiders, or prehistoric monsters, so where does Fido fit next to those fear inducing animals. Unfortunately my answer isn't entirely positive. The filmmakers do a commendable job making the dogs look vicious (using fake sores and hairspray), but I still couldn't fully buy into the fear associated with being chased by a dog. Aside from my hang-up about dogs, the film offers promising direction by first-time director Nicholas Mastandrea, who demonstrates he has an eye for constructing a decent horror film. Perhaps next time he'll get his hands on a story that incorporates a greater element of fear.
Bad acting seems to be a staple in low-budget films, but the casting for this film was significantly better than I was expecting. Oliver Hudson and Michelle Rodriguez aren't newcomers to acting, but they also haven't seen a great deal of success up to this point. The Breed doesn't mark a turning point for any of these actors, but it demonstrates most of them have potential. In fact, the standout performance in my opinion comes from Eric Lively, who undergoes the most drastic emotional transition out of anyone in the film (and handles it perfectly). I wish the script had shown a little more polish by not straying into the trademark sex-crazed teenage banter that accompanies most horror films (especially ones that include a scene with a dark basement), but not many films in this genre are able to weave a tale that doesn't occasionally digress into shallow filler (while we wait for the next victim to be picked off).
The Breed Blu-ray, Video Quality
Presented in 1080p utilizing the VC-1 codec (at an average bitrate of 20Mbps), The Breed offers a surprisingly proficient transfer. I was continually impressed with the level of detail throughout the feature, whether dealing with up-close facial shots, or the wide/distance shots that typically exhibit a reduction in fine-object detail. In fact, considering the lack of a Hollywood budget, and the relative difficulty in working with animals during shooting, I was shocked there weren't at least a couple scenes that appeared slightly out of focus (a limited budget usually means the director and cinematographer don't have the luxury of multiple takes for the same scene). Aside from the impressive level of detail, I found the low-light interior shots a bit underwhelming. During those scenes, detail in the foreground remained excellent, while detail in the background exhibited a lack of contrast and a severe drop in shadow detail. There are several examples of this problem throughout the film, but it's especially noticeable around the 9 minute mark when the group of vacationers first enter the cabin. Up until that point, the outdoor shots that occurred during the daytime looked splendid, so it was a little jarring to see the picture take a noticeable turn for the worst.
Although the transfer is lacking in one area, I still feel the strengths merit a decent video rating. I never detected the presence of digital artifacting, edge enhancement, color bleeding, or motion blurring, and the color spectrum used for the film is pleasingly natural. There is some occasional grain (mostly during dark sequences), but it was never obtrusive and shouldn't present a concern to most viewers.
The Breed Blu-ray, Audio Quality
If you consider the fact that your not watching a sweeping epic with a 200 million budget, then there's not much to complain about on this Dolby TrueHD 5.1 audio track. The filmmaker's demonstrate a mastery for the art of audience jitters, so don't be surprised if you suddenly hear a rabid dog make a snarling entrance from the back of your soundstage to latch onto the neck of an unsuspecting victim. The thrills may be cheap entries from a decades-old playbook, but they're still handled nicely in the sound spectrum and it's those moments of near-perfect spatial separation that lead me to believe there's more talent behind this film than what we see onscreen. In addition to the robust nature of the effects, the dialogue is crisp and the volume balance between the tension-building orchestra music alongside the other audio elements is appropriately balanced. There really isn't much to complain about from an audio standpoint, and the only reason I gave the audio a rating of 4 is due to the lack of a big-budget proficiency in the music, sound recording, and effects. Next to other low budget horror film, this would be a 5 for audio, but next to the wealth of high-definition audio offerings on Blu-ray, this is merely a slightly above-average experience.
The Breed Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
On the Set of The Breed(480p, Dolby 2.0, 24:10 min.): This impressive supplement focuses largely on the use of professionally trained dogs to create the ferocious killing machines in the film. I'd advise you to delay your viewing of this supplement until after you've watched the film, since it becomes pretty hard to take any scary elements seriously after seeing these 4-legged actors wagging their tales for almost a half hour. One of the best segments in the featurette focuses on a scene where a dog attacks the leg of Michelle Rodriguez. The dog has to bite a specially padded section to prevent injury, but it turns out to be much harder than you'd think.
The only other inclusion on the disc is a collection of eight trailers for other films released by First Look Studios (presented in 480p).
The Breed Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Your appreciation for the film will likely be based on your opinion of cheesy horror films. The premise is absurd (and may have been written by a 4th-grader that had a run-in with the neighbor's dog), but the film still manages to offer up several scares and the acting is substantially better than a typical B-grade entry in the horror genre. From a technical standpoint, there's a lot to like about The Breed, with above-average audio/video quality, that helps bring the value of the total package up a couple of notches. At a reasonable price through most retail outlets, I'd recommend a purchase to those that have an interest in this type of film, and a rental to those that know they would never watch the film a second time. We're not talking much more than the price of a rental, and I'd wager most genre fans will find enough positives to warrant at least two viewings over the course of a year.
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The Breed Blu-ray, News and Updates
• First Look Announces The Breed for Blu-ray - June 24, 2008
First Look Home Entertainment has announced that they will bring the indie horror film 'The Breed' to Blu-ray on October 21st. No technical specs or special features have been announced for the Blu-ray at this time, though the previous DVD release of this Wes Craven ...
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