XII (Twelve) DVD review
Written by Daniel Benson
DVD released by Chelsea Films
Directed by Michael A. Nickles
Written by Michael A. Nickles and Tennyson E. Stead
2008, Region 2 (PAL), 80 minutes, Rated 18 (UK)
DVD released on 27th September 2010
Steven Brand as Agent Naughton
Michael Leydon Campbell as Tony
Jeremy Fitzgerald as Leonard karlsson
Emily Hardy as Claire
Vanessa Long as Phoebe
Mercedes McNab as Vicki
Josh Nuncio as Shane
Joe Nunez as Harry
I’ve had a good run of decent films on my review pile lately and I knew that would come to an end at some point. Thankfully, XII didn’t bring the standard crashing straight down to the bottom of the barrel, it fell just short of the mark.
Leonard Karlson, incarcerated for child molestation, is dealt a torturous existence while serving his time. He’s beaten and persecuted by the other inmates, who carve up his face in retribution for his crimes. On his release, a suspiciously short five years later, he returns to his home town and starts to hunt down and kill the twelve jurors who convicted him.
Bringing little new to the serial killer movie, XII gets all of the back story put of the way during the opening credits and launches into one of its best scenes almost immediately. A young couple, just married in Vegas, is driving along a highway when a pickup truck pulls alongside and a shotgun blast obliterates the new groom’s head in spectacular style. There is an entire featurette on the disc devoted to this sequence which, incredibly, reveals that the effect was achieved using several overlayed layers of computer trickery and a ‘real’ exploding head. Perhaps XII played its ace card too early with this, as there’s little else to compare to it until the final minutes.
Seeing as Leonard got his own face carved up in prison, he makes a point of repaying the jury by delivering them the same fate. As Leonard’s home town is a one-horse affair in the middle of nowhere, some of them have moved on, so we get reports of similar murders from Seattle down to Vegas. It’s these similar killings that bring in an FBI agent to investigate, although he doesn’t last long either.
Rather predictably, the honour of sole survivor goes to Claire (newcomer Emily Hardy) who is the atypical clean and wholesome, if a little weak, hometown girl. While all around her think only of themselves, she’s the only one considering other people. After losing most of her ex-juror pals to a stranger in a red pickup, she finds herself trussed up in Leonard’s tin shack, watching through the cracks as he rips the faces off her friends.
To its credit, XII doesn’t opt for the, now clichéd, ‘false death’ of the killer and once she’s managed to put him down he stays right there. It’s all over in a matter of 80 minutes, and XII leaves an undying sense of ambivalence having done just enough to keep the viewer interested but not enough to thrill.
Video and Audio:
The 1.78:1 Widscreen picture is satisfactory, if a little soft. No signs of digital break up in the darker scenes, but one noticeable flaw is a momentary stutter of the picture during long panning shots (of which there are many) caused by the conversion from NTSC to PAL.
The audio is a choice of DD 5.1 or a Stereo 2.0 mix, neither being anything to get excited over.
A surprising number of special features prop up the disc. There's a full audio commentary with director, Nickles, producer/composer Tim Montijo and lead actress Emily Hardy. Beneath the Skin is a talking heads piece on getting the movie cast, scored and into production. A Shotgun to the Head delves into the techniques used to create the opening exploding head sequence and there's a makeup FX gallery showing in detail the prosthetics used in the film.
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