Horror films are often discounted by people as not scary or dumb, but when you find out how they watched these movies, you might not be surprised they watched with all the lights on while laying in bed with their laptops. Well, the new version of Pet Sematary definitely deserves the full surround sound treatment.
I saw this unforgivingly mean movie in the theaters one Saturday afternoon after indulging on some magically edible delights, and I’ll tell you right now, that was probably the wrong move. I remember shrinking lower and lower into my chair, and though I didn’t have an Atmos receiver at home yet, I knew this was going to be especially wild in the quiet of my basement when it came out on Blu-Ray. I finally got the chance this week, and it did not disappoint. Here are some moments that stood out:
• Chapters 1-3: Several scenes with ambient bells and whispering voices in the overheads, interrupted a few times by the Orinco trucks blowing by, exciting the sub each time. Really fun jump scare moments
• Chapter 4: Whenever Louis dreams, Atmos and surrounds kick into high gear and there are ghosts whispering, as well as really unsettling wind and knocking effects. They really went for it
• Chapter 5: The infamous dumbwaiter scenes start here. Whispering, walking and things falling from above. Makes the movie that much more terrifying.
• Chapter 7: Another dream sequence with some really cool “god’s voice” narration gives way to some terrifying noises in the attic as Zelda’s dumbwaiter is again teased (strictly from above) and holy shit. Goosebumps 😰
• Chapter 10: Louis enters the Pet Sematary, and whispers, screaming, wood cracking, bugs, wind and more crawl across the ceiling. It’s almost torturous and made me giggle nervously at one point.
• Chapter 13: Zelda finally makes her grand appearance. The squeals of the dumbwaiter coming from above, along with the creepy, crawling ghost are insanely detailed across the ceiling. It’ll grind your nerves
Here’s the thing. When this movie decides to get active in the overheads, it goes for it. Possibly more than any other Atmos movie I’ve seen at home yet. That being said, a lot of the movie is really quietly dialogue-driven, as the main characters spend a majority of the movie grief-stricken. So, for that reason, I can’t give Pet Sematary the full 5 speakers. It’s close, but not quite there. I definitely suggest you grab it just for those moments mentioned above, though, because they’ll rattle you.
Dolby Atmos is the latest in Home Theater right now, and since I finally picked up an Atmos-enabled receiver and have managed to dial everything in just right for the theater room in my basement, I thought I’d share my experiences with just how immersive particular titles get.
Below, you’ll find a running list of Atmos (and in some cases, DTS-X) titles from both streaming and physical media that I’ve watched. I’ll be ranking each title out of 5 “speakers” (1 being not very immersive at all, 5 being insanely immersive) and will point out any scenes that stood out, so you can fast-forward to your ears’ delight!
MISSION IMPOSSIBLE: FALLOUT (4K UHD BLU-RAY – 01/18/22)
This is the kind of movie that was made for Atmos. And while the sound more than shines throughout the film, the Atmos effects often take a backseat to the more-than-well rounded out mix of the movie itself. Dialogue is often whispered, and tense conversations through gritted teeth pop up in almost every scene. However, there are some Atmos-heavy scenes that are worth mentioning:
• Chapter 1: Tom Cruise and Simon Pegg are talking beneath an overpass where cars are driving overhead in both directions
• Chapter 3: Skydiving is a workout for every speaker
• Chapter 6: Police bike chase is wild. Stuff going on everywhere
• Chapter 7: Really tense scene with a traincar going right overhead then right into another chase scene with some wild alternating between left and right heights
• Chapter 10: Gun battle in a sewer has some really fun overheads
• Chapters 12 – 14: Helicopters just live overhead for minutes straight. Absolute helicopter porn that ends with a Cliffhangeresque scene that is almost exclusively overheads
This is a really cool movie and the sound is more than excellent. But if you’re looking for a movie full of demo-worthy scenes to show off those Atmos muscles, you might look elsewhere unless you’re really into helicopters.
ATMOS IMMERSIVENESS LEVEL:
🔊 🔊 🔊 🔊 / 5
THE CONJURING 2 (BLU-RAY – 01/18/22)
Blu-Ray • Atmos • 1080p Upconverted
I’ve seen this movie my fair share of times, but this is my first time in Atmos, and fucking hell, what a difference. The overhead effects are put to full use throughout its run time. Rain pours almost the entire movie, British pop invasion tunes are crawling across the ceiling almost as much as whispers of demons, and it makes the jump scares that much more effective. Here are some moments that stood out:
• Chapter 5: Footsteps overhead when cops are poking around
• Chapter 6: Bells ringing all over the soundstage, house being torn apart chaotically in every speaker
• Chapter 8: Persistent rainstorm with thunder and lightning
• Chapter 10: Sounds of a flooded basement, water everywhere, kids running around upstairs. This scene was actually one of the coolest I’ve heard with an Atmos movie so far
• Ch 12 to the end of the movie: Downpour & Ed’s breathing in overheads. Demon begins grunting and breathing, and it bounces all over the ceiling
As far as Horror films are concerned, I think this is what Atmos was built for: another thing to scare the living shit out of the audience. I already really liked this movie, but this brought a whole new element to the table. This might be my go-to demo for now 🤘
ATMOS IMMERSIVENESS LEVEL:
🔊 🔊 🔊 🔊 🔊 / 5
DOCTOR SLEEP: DIRECTOR’S CUT (BLU-RAY – 01/17/22)
Blu-Ray • Atmos • 1080p Upconverted
Since I can remember, The Shining has been my favorite movie – a go-to every Halloween, I get sucked in by Kubrick’s magic touch and cinematic trickery. It’s an incredible movie experience that gets better with every viewing. Lucky for us, Mike Flanagan (The Haunting of Hill House, Bly Manor, etc.) was given the reins to the adaptation of Stephen King’s Shining sequel, and I’m happy to say that this is everything I hoped for and more. Now, I’ve seen both versions, and while the Director’s Cut doesn’t change too much, I would still definitely recommend getting your hands on that version.
There are too many scenes of overhead sonic excellence to mention in this release, that I’m just going to have to suggest that you experience it yourself. There’s a persistent heartbeat pouring through the overheads and surrounds throughout the entire film that will rattle your nerves by the time the characters arrive back at the iconic Overlook, and then the Atmos effects take center stage, and you’ll be smiling from ear-to-ear until the credits roll. If you’re not too sure about Atmos yet, Doctor Sleep will definitely get you on the train.
ATMOS IMMERSIVENESS LEVEL
🔊 🔊 🔊 🔊 🔊 / 5
OVERLORD (BLU-RAY – 01/17/22)
Blu-Ray • Dolby Atmos • 1080p Upconverted
Superhuman Nazi Zombies aside, the sound design on this movie is fun as hell. From the get-go, nervous soldiers on a plane rattle through the air, and we’re right in the middle of every bullet and explosion from there on out. There’s a scene where the main character falls out of said plane, and the wind whooshing around him covers the entire overhead landscape. There are a few other standout scenes, including footsteps over creaking boards that might convince you someone is upstairs, and great water trickling in tunnels throughout. This was a really fun one.
ATMOS IMMERSIVENESS LEVEL
🔊 🔊 🔊 🔊 / 5
ARCHIVE 81 (NETFLIX – 01/17/22)
Netflix • Dolby Atmos • 4K
This show is really fun. It goes off the rails in the last two episodes or so, but that’s also when the Atmos effects really kick in. Without spoiling anything for you, there’s a scene in the last episode where a particular structure begins crumbling all around a couple characters and it really feels like the stonework is crashing down over your head. Add in some really cool overhead music effects throughout the entire show, and this makes for one really fun immersive viewing experience. Definitely would recommend this show (especially in the last few episodes) for Atmos demo.
Welcome to the 16th episode of CinemAbysmal: The Podcast, where the three writers of cinemabysmal.com talk about what society would consider some of the worst of the worst media out there. This week, we discuss all things IT! SPOILERS for the new film lie ahead, so if you haven’t seen it, WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING! Go see it now, then listen to us discuss the book and the two cinematic adaptations! Check it out on all your favorite apps below! As always, please SHARE, RATE, AND SUBSCRIBE!
CinemAbysmal: The Podcast – Episode 7 ‘Stuck in Shining, New York’
Our seventh episode is here! This week, we talk some of our favorite movies and try to involve Stephen King in each of them! Check it out on all your favorite apps below! As always, please SHARE, RATE, AND SUBSCRIBE!
Dudes and dudettes, you have to see this movie. It is fucking weird. It is so fucking weird, I was convinced that English was the second or third language for the entire production team. And this was after discovering that it was directed and co-written by Lawrence Kasdan. I love a couple movies written by Kasdan. The ones about Empires and Jedis striking back and returning, but this movie is nothing like those films. This movie features a cast of mostly likeable actors; Damian Lewis, people seem to have a thing for him. Jason Lee and Thomas Jane and Timothy Olyphant, then add Morgan Freeman and you have a cast of characters that I can get behind.
Until they start talking. I love Stephen King as a person. He seems cool and down to earth, but he also loves to write about children friends who grow up to be adult friends that still talk like children. IT suffers heavily from this. Let’s just say, the acting and dialogue choices in this film are strange. It features wise-cracking that takes away from tension and plotting.
When shit goes to hell in this film, I thought the principal actors were in on it, just because they are laughing at fart jokes instead of showing concern for the man who is clearly dying out his butt. Then Morgan Freeman shows up as a general in charge of killing whatever the fuck is attacking these people, and he lives, speaks in monologues, and dies at the end without contributing one iota of a shit cell to the plot.
But it is entertaining in that way that a bad magician is interesting. Yeah, he just cut off his finger, but attempting to figure out what the trick was supposed to be is the most fun part. Did Lawrence Kasdan just shit the bed at every turn or was this all intentional and meant to redefine the alien invasion genre? Oh yeah, there’s aliens in this movie. Surprise! Enjoy!
Stranger Things is technically a television program. What it plays like, however, is the best 7-hour movie that you’ve never seen. For this reason, I have decided to review the series as a film. Stranger Things begins all too familiar. We are immediately reminded of the Spielberg family-scapes of a 1980’s suburbia and given to a not-so-motley crew of nerdy kids that even The Goonies would probably bully. The 80’s worship does not stop there, though. Everyone enjoys a good helping of neon, John Hughes inspired feels and a good Reagan-era pop hit, but Stranger Things takes the decade and molds the story around it.
I was born in the 1980’s. Before I was 5, though, they were over. I can’t really say I know what the decade was actually like, but I’ve always felt a strange kinship to its music, movies and pop culture. So whenever someone makes the creative choice of setting their story in the 80’s, I’m usually intrigued. Donnie Darko did an excellent job making you feel like you were watching something made in the 1980’s and Stranger Things is no different. The music is blissfully extreme in its synth-heavy soundscape, evoking the most insane crescendos in John Carpenter films. The characters’ fashion choices are tamed but convincing, and even a lot of the architecture looks as though it was ripped from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.
Matthew Modine and Winona Ryder hold their respective places in 1980’s filmdom. Ryder is excellent as a grieving mother in the series, slowly descending into understandable craziness while she desperately searches for her son. Modine plays a soft-spoken and mysterious doctor in a laboratory on the outskirts of town, and his looming, often creepy presence grows as the show progresses. Perhaps the most impressive character among the show’s adults, though, is that of David Harbour’s Sherriff Jim Hopper. We’ve all seen Harbour before in small parts (TV and film) but this is really a breakout role for him, as he excellently guides the cast through the series’ ups and downs.
The real stars of the series though, are the four geeky kids mentioned earlier. Never have I been more impressed with children acting than I have with Stranger Things. Led by the spectacular Finn Wolfhard as Mike (who has been cast as Richie Tozier in the new 2017 incarnation of IT), these three boys never give up looking for their friend Will who goes missing in the first installment. Will does not get much screen time, but when he does, he steals every frame. The actors playing Dustin and Lucas are excellent as well, battling bullies and difficulties of middle school life as D&D loving dorks. Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown) is also a really cool character and the focus on her storyline grows throughout the series.
I think what impressed me most about Stranger Things was its ability to take so liberally from those projects that inspired it, and make it its own original story. At times, you’ll feel you’ve seen certain scenes before, whether it’s the bike chase scene in E.T., an alternate universe in Poltergeist or Under the Skin, telekinetic abilities in Stephen King stories like Carrie, a synth-heavy montage in a Carpenter flick…the list goes on and on. Once you watch it yourself, you’ll probably even discover nods yourself that I never would have thought of. It’s really incredible how well the Duffers acknowledge their influences in this.
It’s hard to put into words how much I really loved Stranger Things. It’s become so easy to just sit for hours and “binge” on shows featured on Netflix. But when a project like this comes out and there are only eight nearly hour-long episodes, it really becomes a feature film. A couple “episodes” in, you’re going to be facing a tough choice, just like I did: “I know it’s late, but this is so damn good. I need to finish this.” I suggest you do just that before someone ruins Stranger Things for you.
Final Score: 4/4
Similar Films: E.T. the Extra Terrestrial, The Goonies, Poltergeist