The Garden DVD Review
Written by Steve Pattee
DVD Released by Anchor Bay
There never was an apple. – Ben
Directed by Don Michael Paul
Written by Sam Bozzo
2006, Region 1 (NTSC), 92 minutes, Not rated
DVD released on July 11th, 2006
Lance Henriksen as Ben Zachary
Brian Wimmer as David
Clauder Christian as the doctor
Adam Taylor Gordon as Sam
Sean Young as Miss Chapman
Sam (Adam Taylor Gordon – Cellular) has been having some messed-up dreams lately. Dreams involving trees and snakes and things of a Biblical nature. Plus, he cuts himself.
His concerned father, David (Brian Wimmer – TV’s “China Beach”), takes him to a specialist (Claudia Christian – The Haunting of Hell House), who tells him his son sees things differently than other people. Almost alluding that he has visions, but not quite admitting it.
On the way home from the appointment, Sam sees a man in the middle of the road and he grabs the wheel of the car from his father, forcing their truck off the road.
He awakens two days later in a house owned by the enigmatic Ben Zachary (Lance Henriksen – AVP: Alien vs. Predator, TV’s “Millennium”). Due to a toxic spill at their home, Sam and David must stay at the ranch until the quarantine is lifted. Fortunately, though, Ben is an older gentlemen, and he has offered David a job on the ranch until they can leave—which David eagerly takes.
But Sam doesn’t like Ben. There’s something untrustworthy about him. And when Sam watches him butcher someone, that just seals it. This guy just might be evil.
Wait until Sam realizes he’s living with the Devil himself.
I love religious-themed horror movies, but let’s face it; for the most part, they suck. Sure, The Exorcist rocked, as did its second sequel, The Exorcist III. Yeah, The Prophecy was pretty damn good and The Omen still has its moments. But there were also movies like End of Days and Stigmata (both of which I liked, but even I can admit they were pretty bad). The Garden fits somewhere in the middle of the road.
The Garden is not a bad movie, but its major flaw is that it is so forgettable. There’s nothing in it you can go back and tell people about. When you think of The Exorcist, I guarantee you can think of at least one scene that affected you. Same with Exorcist III. But you can’t say the same for The Garden.
It’s tough to really slam The Garden, as it has some great things going for. The acting is completely solid across the board, with the obvious standout being Lance Henriksen. Ol’ LFH — that would be Lance Fucking Henriksen, because he’s that fucking cool — just nails it. He completely underplays Old Scratch, making his character that much more believable. Quiet, thoughtful and manipulative, I have not seen a performance depicting Satan so ubercool since Viggo Mortensen’s turn as Beelzebub in The Prophecy. There is something more fearful about the Prince of Darkness never raising his voice and being as calm, cool and collected as Henriksen was.
But, unfortunately, that’s the most positive thing about the film. Everything else is either forgettable, or questionable — such as Sean Young’s character.
Young (Blade Runner) portrays Sam’s teacher, who happens to be teaching about the Bible. She seems to be a religious woman, but does something at the end of the movie that really makes no sense. Sure, the script attempts to cover what she does with some sort of half-assed explanation, but that explanation doesn’t work. If a little more character development had occurred, it may have been more believable, but even then, I have my doubts.
Also, and this is paragraph contains mild spoilers, it eventually becomes clear that the movie is centering around a tree in Satan’s yard. The Tree of Knowledge. That’s right, kids, the tree Adam and Eve ate from in the Garden. The Garden of Eden. Okay, I’m not a biblical scholar by any stretch of the imagination, but I’m fairly certain the Tree of Knowledge doesn’t sit on some ranch in the western United States.
The biggest problem of all, though, is the movie doesn’t quite know what it wants to be, so it ends up all over the place. At some parts, you feel as if you are watching a feel-good family movie, but then Henriksen is sewing someone’s mouth up with needle and thread. Or you are thinking it’s a horror movie, then Sam starts reaching for golden swords that are appearing out of the sky or trying to befriend the riders of the apocalypse.
All said, it’s a movie that tries to do too much at once, and ends up not doing enough of anything.
Video and Audio:
Garden’s anamorphic picture is clean and free from blemishes. The blacks are solid and the colors are natural, which is nice because it the film bounces back between darkness and light.
Surprisingly, only a Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack is offered. The dialogue is never muffled, and Jon Lee’s score sounds terrific — especially if you are a fan of Mark Snow (TV’s “The X-Files” and “Millennium”).
- Audio commentary with director Don Michael Paul
- “The Garden: Behind the Scenes”
- Theatrical trailer
- Still Gallery
- Lance Henriksen bio
The commentary with Don Michael Paul is skippable. There are a lot of “dead” spots and nothing to be gained from it.
“The Garden: Behind the Scenes” runs just under six minutes, and is pretty enjoyable if you like straight behind-the-scenes footage. No interviews, just some second-camera stuff. I happen to enjoy that sort of thing, so it was right up my alley.
The LFH bio is nothing you can’t find on the Internet, and I haven’t seen a “special feature” of the static bio’s caliber since DVDs came out 10 years ago. I guess Anchor Bay is taking it old school.
A still gallery. Yay.
Trailers for Masters of Horror, Left in the Darkness, The Tooth Fairy, It Waits and Room 6 are available.
Pretty lame special features for a company that used to deliver the goods.
Henriksen fans would probably want to give this one a rent. Everyone else, catch it on the Sci-Fi channel.
(Equipment includes a Mitsubishi WS-48613 48” HDTV, Sony DVP-CX875P DVD player and Onkyo HTS-770 Home Theater System and, in some cases, a Sony 27” WEGA TV and a Sony DVP-NS50P DVD player.)
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