Halloween Ultra HD Blu-ray Review

Ralph Potts reviews Halloween (2018) that sees the return of Laurie Strode, as she confronts her long-time foe Michael Myers, the masked figure who has haunted her since she narrowly escaped his killing spree on Halloween night four decades ago.

The Review at a Glance:
(max score: 5 )

Film:

Extras:

Audio/UHD Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )

91

Details:

Studio and Year: Universal – 2018
MPAA Rating: R
Feature running time: 106 minutes
Genre: Horror

Disc Format: BD-66
Encoding: HEVC
Video Aspect: 2.39:1
Resolution: 2160p/24

Audio Format(s): English DTS:X/7.1 Master Audio, Spanish/French DTS 5.1
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, French
Starring: Jamie Lee Curtis, Judy Greer, Will Patton, Andi Matichak, Virginia Gardner
Directed by: David Gordon Green
Music by: John Carpenter, Jodi Carpenter, Daniel Davies
Written by: Jeff Fradley, Danny McBride, David Gordon Green
Region Code: A,B,C

Blu-ray Disc release Date: January 15, 2019

“Forty Years Later, Evil Returns Home”

Synopsis:

“Forty years after the events of 1978’s Halloween, Laurie Strode (Curtis) now lives in a heavily guarded home on the edge of Haddonfield, where she’s spent decades preparing for Michael’s potential return. After being locked up in an institution, Myers manages to escape when a bus transfer goes terribly wrong, leading to chaos in the same town he preyed on decades earlier. Laurie now faces a terrifying showdown when the deranged killer returns for her and her family – but this time, she’s ready for him.” – Universal Pictures Home Entertainment


My Take:

I thought I would begin this review with the comments from my review of the original Halloween (1978):

Halloween needs no introduction among genre fans. I really like John Carpenter’s films. I was 14 when it was released and didn’t see it until it was on cable TV. Back then it was all the rage with its suspense, gruesome killings and open ending. Looking at it today it doesn’t quite have the stomach-churning suspense or heart pounding jump scares but, there is no question that it still works. Much of that is owed to the cinematography, and simple, yet effectual nature of the character of Michael Myers.

It has become a cult classic which spun off seven sequels, including a Rob Zombie remake and the upcoming installment which hits theaters next month. I don’t think I saw any of the original releases past Halloween 4: The return of Michael Myers, as I felt that the series was becoming redundant. The original John Carpenter film holds a special place for many, myself included. There is something about it that feels more real than its later iterations. This film started a long running series built around a character/idea that when on to terrorize filmgoers.

I had good intentions when Halloween hit theaters but, I never got around to seeing it. I heard mixed feedback from those that did which made the decision to wait for it to come to home video easier. As I sat down with it I tempered expectations and hoped for a visceral reacquaintance with the series two iconic characters. Well, I simply didn’t have that experience. There seemed to be a rush to get right into the bloodletting as the narrative skimped on Laurie’s past except to introduce her adult daughter, teenage granddaughter and the mere mention that Laurie has spent decades preparing for Michael’s return. Okay, I could have lived with that.

What I didn’t enjoy was the lack of any imagination when it came to the details. What we get is the same clichés and narrative trappings you’d expect to find in a B horror movie. The lack of suspense was palpable and the characters, save for Michael and Laurie, were cardboard cutouts. The things that made the original film so engaging and chilling were rehashed, making this feel much less authentic. I appreciated the nostalgic references and return to the feel of what made the original film work so well but, I was hoping that Halloween was going to reach for another gear while paying homage to the classic we all enjoy so much. There’s just a bit too much camp in the interaction between Laurie and Michael and the story lacks focus especially when it comes to Michael’s victims.

Halloween isn’t terrible and is most assuredly better than the variety of poor sequels we have had to endure over the years. I just couldn’t help but feel as though it was a bit of a missed opportunity.

Replay Value:

Parental Guide:

The rating is for horror violence and bloody images, language, brief drug use and nudity.

AUDIO/VIDEO – By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100/EXCELLENT = 83-91/GOOD = 74-82/AVERAGE = 65-73/BELOW AVERAGE = under 65

**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**

UHD Presentation: 94
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

 

  • HDR: Dark Highlights: 
  • HDR: Bright Highlights: 
  • HDR: Expanded Color: 
  • Resolution: 
  • Visual Impact: 

 

DTS:X Rating: 90
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

 

  • Level of immersion: 
  • Soundstage integration: 
  • Audio object placement: 
  • Effectiveness of platform: 
  • Entertainment factor: 

 

Halloween comes to Ultra HD Blu-ray from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment featuring 2160pHEVC encoded video and lossless DTS:X/7.1 Master Audio sound.

Halloween was derived from digital sources and finished on what appears to be a 2K DI, although, I wasn’t able to confirm this.

Halloween generally adheres to relatively cooler chromatic schemes, with the exception of sequences that call for richer color to provide thematic emphasis, which doesn’t make for especially eye-catching levels of color, but this Ultra HD rendering makes the most of its elements. With a noticeable increase in detail the image appears sharper when compared to the 1080p version. The plethora of close up camera shots reveal plenty of subtle refinement and textures within the image. Primary colors like blue and red are pleasingly rich while whites appear bright and punchy.

The added dimension in the grays, blacks, and shadows gives the image excellent depth. The exterior sequences with their overcast skies, moody visual aesthetic and razor sharpness looked terrific. The film has a variety of sequences that take advantage of high dynamic range. The contrast between the shadow details, bright flashes, firelight and glistening objects gives the image lots of visual pop.

The 1080p rendering of Halloween is quite good so the difference between the two isn’t night and day, but overall, I was very pleased with this presentation, finding that is easily trumps the Blu-ray.

DTS:X:

In listening to the DTS:X surround mix I found it to be of the moderately active variety that made effective use of the platform. Its use of audio objects placed above is a blend of atmospherics and discrete effects. When applied it creates an appreciable level of immersion that coincides with the onscreen events. Where this mix excels is in its use of the platform at ear level. There are many instances that show off the track’s thematic blend of music, weapon fire and smaller object sounds that create a wonderfully involving listening experience, that broadens the soundstage. I enjoyed the balance of atmosphere as well as the integration of discrete object placement. I think that it complimented the source material and drew me into the film when it mattered most.

For those not familiar with the details regarding Ultra HD Blu-ray you can refer to my article that includes some pertinent data on the subject. Here is the link:

Ultra HD Blu-ray Has Come to AVS Forum Blu-ray Reviews

Blu-ray Video:

Video: 96
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

 

  • Resolution/Clarity: 
  • Black Level/Shadow Detail: 
  • Color Reproduction: 
  • Fleshtones:
  • Compression: 

 

Audio: 92
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

 

  • Dynamics: 
  • Low frequency effects: 
  • Surround Sound presentation: 
  • Clarity/Detail: 
  • Dialog Reproduction: 
  • DSU/DTS Neural:X Rating * (non-rated element): NA

 

Halloween comes to Blu-ray Disc from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment featuring 1080p AVC encoded video and lossless DTS:X/7.1 Master Audio sound.

This is an excellent high definition rendering that sports plenty of fine detail and crisp definition that provides discerning dimensional perspective. Colors range from warm and vivid to cool, reserved and almost tonally neutral. This is obviously a creative decision that draws definitive visual boundaries and works quite well. Contrast is strong and blacks are deep without compromise to delineation. Shadowy areas exhibit excellent depth of field and visible gradational stages. The wide-angle shots of Haddonfield during the day look great. Framed at 2.39:1, images onscreen have excellent depth, and a stimulating visual aura. I didn’t see any signs of video degrading artifacts or extraneous compression related noise. Halloween looks great on Blu-ray.

The lossless DTS-HD MA soundtrack has good dynamic range, detail rich clarity and makes ample use of the surround platform to drive the film’s elements. The detection of subtle background sounds, off camera cues and spatial dimension within the room’s acoustic environment is notable. Discrete rear channel activity isn’t extensive however the elements of fright/action provide an enriching level of immersion which is punctuated by palpably rich bass. Dialog is firmly planted in the center channel and renders voices and effects with appropriate distinction. This surround mix capably handles the subtle intricacies thrown at by this soundtrack as it augments the thematic tone of this film.

Bonus Features:

  • Disc 1: Halloween Ultra HD Blu-ray
  • Disc 2: Halloween Blu-ray
    • Deleted/Extended Scenes
    o Extended Shooting Range
    o Shower Mask Visit
    o Jog to a Hanging Dog
    o Allyson and Friends at School
    o Cameron and Cops Don’t Mix
    o Deluxe Banh Mi Cops
    o Sartain and Hawkins Ride Along
    • Back in Haddonfield: Making Halloween
    • The Original Scream Queen
    • The Sound of Fear
    • Journey of the Mask
    • The Legacy of Halloween
  • Digital Copy

Final Thoughts:

Halloween brings one of the genre’s most iconic characters up to date but, fails to deliver a truly defining and refreshing horror film experience. It comes to Blu-ray from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment in this Ultra HD Combo Pack that features excellent overall image quality, terrific lossless surround sound, including an invigorating DTS:X immersive sound mix and, a worthwhile assortment of bonus materials. Despite being somewhat disappointed in Halloween I think it deserves consideration for a place in the collections of series fans. Give it a rent on Blu-ray and decide for yourself.

 

Ralph Potts
AVS Forum Blu-ray Reviews

Reference Review System:

JVC DLA-RS500 3D/4K Ready High Definition Front Projector
(Calibrated with Calman 5 & C6-HDR Meter from Spectracal)
Stewart Filmscreen – Studiotek 130 G3 100” 16×9 Screen
Carada Masquerade Electronic Horizontal Masking System
Marantz AV7704 Audio/Video Processor
Emotiva XPA-7 Gen 3 Seven Channel Amplifier
Emotiva XPA-11 Gen 3 Amplifier
Panasonic DP-UB820 Ultra HD Blu-ray Player
System Controller: Apple iPad/iRule Pro HD Universal Remote Control
Canton “Ergo” and Canton In-Ceiling Series Speakers
SVS Ultra Surrounds (Gloss Finish in Bipolar Configuration)
Dual SVS PC4000 Cylinder Subwoofers
Panamax M5400-PM Power Conditioner/Surge Protector
Wireworld, Better Cables (Silver Serpent) – Audio/Video/Speaker Cabling
AC Infinity Aircom T8 Component Cooling Systems 

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