The Gathering DVD Review
Written by Neon Maniac
DVD released by UFA Home Entertainment / Miramax
Directed by Brian Gilbert
Written by Anthony Horowitz
2002, Region 2 (PAL), 83 minutes, Rated 16 (Germany)
DVD released on April 26th, 2004
Christina Ricci as Cassie Grant
Ioan Gruffudd as Dan Blakeley
Stephen Dillane as Simon Kirkman
Kerry Fox as Marion Kirkman
Simon Beale as Luke Fraser
Robert Hardy as The Bishop
A 1st century church is discovered mysteriously buried on a hill in the English countryside. The site is investigated and a theory forms that it was founded by Joseph of Arimathea during his travels after the Crucifixion. A young woman, Cassie, is wandering the same countryside when she is struck by a car driven by the wife of the man investigating the church. Cassie is taken to the hospital where she is found to be uninjured, aside from some memory loss. She remembers her name and that she was going to visit someone in the nearby town, but she can't remember who or why. The woman that hit her takes her into her home and Cassie begins to have horrific visions of the family and other people she meets in the town. What happens from there is a psychological thriller/mystery exploring Cassie's real identity, her odd connections to the church and to the family that has taken her in.
The Gathering starts out as an engaging, thought provoking, psychological film with sinister religious undertones. There's an almost smothering atmosphere of mystery and suspense that grips the viewer then draws them into the world of the film. And then it quickly devolves into a old episode of the "Outer Limits" TV series.
About 2/3 through the film it becomes apparent who Cassie is and what her connection is to the mysterious church. The atmosphere, the mystery and the provoked thoughts all evaporate and the only thing left for the audience to do at that point is sit back and watch it play out to the inevitable ending. Still, the film is well done and it is engaging up until that point. Aside from the story's shortcomings, this film was done well and provides an interesting commentary on human nature that is best left to be discovered by the viewer.
Ricci and Gruffudd do a nice job in their roles, the other actors are top notch as well. Director Brian Gilbert creates a movie that is not only pleasant to look at, but also sucks the viewer in for the most part. Combined, this is reason enough to watch The Gathering. However, this title is currently unavailable in North America and it is probably not worth paying the high European prices to import it, unless you are a hard core Ricci or Gruffudd fan.
Video and Audio:
Impressive picture quality; it translates from the original film very well. Lots of sharp detail and very good use of black/gray levels; something that is not always done well on DVD. For example, most of the scenes in the church are very dark, yet the background always has nice detail. We get to see visual clues left for us by the filmmaker. In another dark scene, where Ricci and Gruffudd are drinking in a pub, the background is lost in shadows, not much detail is shown and it serves to make the scene more intimate. It serves to remind us we are seeing the Director's intent and not the limitations of the DVD medium.
Filmed on the Isle of Man, the film features wonderful panoramic views of the English countryside and architecture.
The Gathering sports a Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack in both the original English and dubbed German. While there was a slight change of film speed due to the PAL>NTSC conversion process, there were no detectable flaws or distortions with the soundtrack. A sweeping orchestral soundtrack adds to the atmosphere of the film.
The extras on this DVD are a trailer for the film (in German), Cast & Crew bios (written in German) and short interviews with the same Cast & Crew. The interviews are in English, but with non-removable subtitles for German. This is a German disc, after all. Overall, very average. The only problem with the extras section are the interviews. Buried deep within the Bios section, you may miss them entirely. Once you find them, you will be underwhelmed.
The interviews look like they were done for a TV special about the film, and none go too in-depth. Oddly, all we see are the people being interviewed giving answers. No questions or interaction with the interviewer is shown. Also, calling them interviews is a bit generous, they are heavily edited sound bites. Be warned, watch these after you watch the movie, lots of spoilers here.
Nothing you haven't seen before, everything you will see again.
(Neon's Movie Lounge contains a Zenith 42" Plasma EDTV, Oppo DV971H DVD player using a DVI connection, JVC 5.1 DD/DTS receiver and JBL Northridge E Series speakers.)
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