The Shining

Dolby Atmos Immersiveness

Updated 01/19/2022

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)

Paramount

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)

Warner Brothers

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)

Warner Brothers

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)

Paramount

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

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.

ATMOS IMMERSIVENESS LEVEL:

🔊 🔊 🔊 🔊 / 5

CinemAbysmal: The Podcast – Episode 7 ‘Stuck in Shining, New York’

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!

iTunes – https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/cinemabysmal/id1153464020?mt=2

Google Play Music – https://play.google.com/music/m/Irjld24rxpsi22hdnugilmxh57u?t=CinemAbysmal

SoundCloud – https://soundcloud.com/cinemabysmal/07-stuck-in-shining-new-york

Stitcher – http://www.stitcher.com/s?fid=128435&refid=asa

Spreaker – http://www.spreaker.com/show/cinemabysmals-show

You can also find us on BeyondPod! Just search for CinemAbysmal.

31 Days of Horror – ‘The Canal’

thecanal

The Canal  

Directed by: Ivan Kavanagh

Starring: Rupert Evans and Antonia Campbell-Hughes

Review by CinemAbysmal

This is a genuinely mean and frightening film. You look at the picture above, and you’ll probably think it’s a typical ghost flick where the submerged body comes floating to the surface to haunt the living. Truth is though, this movie is a straight ripper. Rather than relying on jump scares and things that go bump in the night, The Canal presents a story floating face down in a murky puddle of grief and infidelity.

I am not saying that there are no horrific parts in this. There are some absolutely chilling scenes brought on by ghosts haunting a house. There is a disgusting public bathroom that is repeatedly revisited causing a great amount of discomfort as a Shiningesque score wobbles and whines in the background. There is a tale of a family that was killed by their patriarch in 1902 in the house in which the main character now lives. The director, Kavanagh knows what he is doing to make the viewer as uneasy as possible.

Back to what makes The Canal brutally scary though, is the weaving story of the main character and his wife. The movie begins with them looking at a house, deeply in love and childless, their whole lives together ahead of them. Several years later the film jumps ahead and we are led to believe that the main character’s wife is cheating on him, leaving him with their son. His reaction is genuine and awful and heartbreaking, and I feel this is where the horrible fright of this film lies: everyone’s worst fears coming to life causing an unrelenting descent into madness in the face of infidelity.

For those into haunted house movies, this movie should be quite enough for you. But if you’re looking for a really depressing film that will most likely just absolutely devastate you while some ghosts tease the living, this one is definitely for you. Check out this bad boy on Netflix now. I promise it will affect you in some way.

 

31 Days of Horror – ‘The Amityville Horror (2005)’

amity

The Amityville Horror (2005)  

Directed by: Andrew Douglas

Starring: Ryan Reynolds and Melissa George

Review by Eric Scot Lemons

Ah, Amityville Horror. What do you say about a film that has nothing to say? I have never seen the original but this one, starring Ryan Reynolds before he was likable, talented Ryan Reynolds, and was still trying to wash himself of the fetor heaped upon him by Two Guys and a Girl and a fucking Pizza Place.

Ryan Reynolds is a step-father in the 70’s, married to Melissa George. That is pretty much all we know. The set up is pretty cliche, for which I won’t really fault it considering this is a remake of the original “family moves into house and is terrorized by ghosts” story. But it definitely doesn’t expand or redefine the genre in any interesting way, instead opting to fester in its own mediocrity while borrowing heavily from films that did it much better; most notably Poltergeist and The Shining.

Speaking of The Shining, I had heard King disliked Kubrick’s casting of Jack Nicholson because he felt it wasn’t a stretch to see him going crazy. This is how I feel about the choice to make Ryan Reynolds a stepdad. When shit starts going crazy, and he starts being physically and verbally abusive toward his family, I didn’t suspect a supernatural force was behind it, because I just think that’s how stepdads are.

Ultimately, the film is the type of film you have seen a million times if you watch horror flicks. Family moves into house, things get wacky, child speaks to ghost, there is some demon that gets stronger, family tries exorcism or intervention which doesn’t work, then they have to fight for their lives, and they leave the house. It isn’t interesting and they show the ghosts far too often and with comically long takes. The key to a good horror flick, especially one dependent on jump-scares, is to keep shots of the monster very short, so that our brains can register the danger, yet not unravel its flaws. And this film had many, many flaws.

We Are Still Here

weare

We Are Still Here (2015) – Horror | Drama

Directed by: Ted Geoghegan

Starring: Barbara Crampton and Andrew Sensenig

How I Watched: Blu-Ray

Best Line: “You’re not leaving here. You stay, you satisfy the darkness.”

A good haunted house movie is defined by the house itself. It has to use the house in a way that it stands as its own character, impacting the story in a way that you, as the viewer, do not want to be in that house. It has become a difficult feat in modern horror cinema, something that was taken to heart back in the 1970’s. The Shining and The Exorcist both used their surroundings to scare the living hell out of their audiences and first-time director Ted Geoghegan knows this well.

We Are Still Here‘s house is a prime example of how to use the setting as an effective character. The movie begins with the characters driving up to the house and then shots of the lonely rooms inside of its antiquated shell. Each great shot is dripping with dread and it really does not let up from these first few moments for the rest of the film. Setting this in the 1970’s was extremely effective as well. The absence of cell phones in We Are Still Here plays a big part in this story and I think Geoghegan knew this when he wrote it.

The cast is not especially incredible but it does not really need to be. Barbara Crampton plays the grieving and ever-optimistic mother role pretty well, carrying a few scenes that really needed a convincing performance. Andrew Sensinig does a convincing enough job as her husband and Lisa Marie plays a pretty damn good hippie with self-professed mental gifts. Monte Markham has a particularly good turn as the film’s menacing antihero, growling his way through some pretty dark scenes.

We Are Still Here‘s standout performance though, comes from Larry Fessenden. Evoking a stoner Jack Nicholson from The Shining, Fessenden grabs the screen from his first appearance as Jacob Lewis, husband of Lisa Marie’s bohemian telepath. He seems immediately lovable, providing the film with its first hints of levity from the opening credits. His ultimate scene though, is one of the most intense in the movie, reminiscent of The Exorcist at its most extreme. This scene will cause you to grit your teeth and sink into the safety of your couch and was really the standout of the film, for me at least.

Though We Are Still Here is set in the 70’s, the movie feels like it was filmed in that decade as well. It seems purposely low budget, not dirty, but not very polished. Scenes are awash in a sea of grey and earthy tones, making the red in the especially gory scenes stand out that much more. CGI is used sparingly, Geoghegan springing instead for physically acted frights. There are not many jump scares to speak of and darkness is used cleverly by the film’s cinematographer. The score is not overbearing and its electronic elements remind me a lot of Fulci’s films, as well as Romero’s Dawn of the Dead.

I think why I enjoyed this movie so much was due to how they used the house. One of the most repeated quotes by multiple characters in We Are Still Here is, “This house needs a family,” suggesting ultimately, that the house itself is an active character. This idea has frightened me since I saw The Shining for the first time, imagining that an inanimate object can bend the will of humans. It gives me shudders and this film carries this idea out masterfully.

We Are Still Here definitely isn’t perfect. It precariously rides the fine line between B-Horror throwback and haunted house hall of fame. Some may understandably find the low budget schlock angle off-putting and even a bit silly. What the film lacks in polish though, it returns in a deliciously vicious mountain of dread. It takes quite a bit of love and dedication to make a haunted house movie this well, and to learn that this is director Ted Geoghegan’s debut is very impressive. I really can’t wait to see what he has for us next.

Final Score: 3.5/4

_____________

Similar Films: The Innkeepers, The Evil Dead, The Shining

Crimson Peak

crimson

Crimson Peak (2015) – Horror | Drama

Directed by: Guillermo Del Toro

Starring: Mia Wasikowska and Tom Hiddleston

How I Watched: Amazon Instant Video

Best Line: “A house as old as this one becomes, in time, a living thing. It starts holding onto things. Keeping them alive when they shouldn’t be.”

Let me begin by warning you that this movie is not scary in the way that you’d expect an R-rated haunted house flick directed by Guillermo Del Toro to be. Crimson Peak is at times, uncomfortably frightening but it just manages to avoid terrifying you into oblivion. Its story instead grows increasingly insidious as it progresses and is almost surgical in its mental burrowing of the viewer. What it will not do however, is cripple you into fear like some scenes in The Conjuring or The ExorcistCrimson Peak is a classically well-told ghost story built upon the back of a Victorian era love affair.

Those of you that are now planning to avoid this one due to the words, “Victorian era love affair,” hey, I don’t blame you. From the trailers, I could tell that this one was possibly more Jane Eyre than Del Toro’s exceedingly brutal Pan’s Labyrinth or The Devil’s Backbone. When all is said and done though, trust me, it works. Fear not, thy testosterone. There’s enough tense moments in Crimson Peak to get at least a couple nods out of even the most jaded Horror film aficionado.

If you’re familiar with Del Toro’s track record, you know he’s made some pretty solid films. Including the two mentioned above, he’s credited with the insane Cronos, the Hellboy series and Pacific Rim. Sure, Mimic and Blade II weren’t exactly Citizen Kane, but c’mon. Everybody is allowed to slip up once in a while. While The Devil’s Backbone is his only other true ghost story, there were plenty of horrifying scenes in Pan’s Labyrinth, as well as movies he helped produce like The Orphanage and Mama, so I was not worried that he could handle the task of scaring us again.

For a little background on the film itself, the story features a young American writer that is swept off her feet by a mysterious entrepreneur that lives in a haunted British estate. For a bit, I felt the movie was going to be like 2012’s The Woman in Black. English accents swept over the lines and it started to seem as it was going to be a costume-themed period piece, until it really began to pick up once the story moved to this British estate. Those that have picked up on it might have already realized that the estate is called ‘Crimson Peak.’ I won’t tell you why but really, the more I think about it, the stranger this story gets.

The cast in Crimson Peak is pretty good, but it’s not exactly something to write home about. I was a bit disappointed that Del Toro didn’t manage to slip stalwart Ron Perlman anywhere in the movie, but hey, Doug Jones made it in so I guess I can forgive the man. Leads Wasikowska and Hiddleston do enough the keep the story going, but I really think this one belongs to Jessica Chastain. Del Toro is famous for his absolutely stone cold, evil villains and Chastain does not break this chain. It’s pretty refreshing to see her play a character that is not emotionally or morally confounded in a muddled thriller and she definitely steals the show from the rest of the cast.

As I mentioned above, this movie isn’t going to turn your blood cold. A few scenes will have you gripping the arms of the couch (if you’re in the right mood), but honestly, Crimson Peak is just more of a really cool movie. The cinematography is absolutely stunning and though I felt Guillermo was a bit liberal with some of the CGI effects, it was not enough to take away from the tale itself. Del Toro weaves his story intricately with those scares and avoids the easy jump-frights that a good number of recent horror films are guilty of. He instead takes the opportunity to build the terror like a layered cake, until those final few moments when he knows he has you roped in and invested in the storyline.

Final Score: 3.5/4

_____________

Similar Films: The Others, The Devil’s Backbone, The Shining