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Second Sight Drops 4K Releases for Excellent Films by Brandon Cronenberg, Jeremy Saulnier, and Alexandre Aja

Last year, we highlighted a pair of great releases from the U.K.-based distributor Second Sight in the 4K drops for David Cronenberg’s “Crimes of the Future” and David Robert Mitchell’s “It Follows.” With their early 2024 releases, it’s become clear that this is a production house that values auteurs. Recent editions of “Green Room,” “Possessor,” and “High Tension” emphasize that they’re going to be an important international distributor for collectors of physical media. Jeremy Saulnier, Brandon Cronenberg, and Alexandre Aja all sat for new interviews for these releases, likely drawn by a company that knows what they’re doing when it comes to supporting important voices in genre cinema. The 4K transfers themselves vary in quality—I love one but have some issues with another—but the special features are uniformly great, offering new insight into three films that I already liked a lot, but now appreciate even more. That’s what great physical media can do.

I’m not sure I would have landed here before re-watching the three films but I think my favorite of the bunch is Cronenberg’s “Possessor.” With this film, the son of David Cronenberg fulfilled the long-delayed promise of “Antiviral” (he says in an interview that he spent most of his thirties trying to make this movie), and it feels even more relevant now with the way that potential has expanded even further with “Infinity Pool.” There’s also something prescient about a film that came out pre-COVID and pre-Dobbs that’s really about societal control and bodily autonomy. It’s reflective of so many of the themes in our culture in the four years since it came out. “Possessor” stars Andrea Riseborough as an assassin who uses other people’s bodies to perform her jobs. When she enters the skin of a man played by Christopher Abbott, reality starts to fracture even further.

The 4K transfer here is easily the best of the bunch, a reminder of Cronenberg’s sharp eye and Karim Hussain’s incredible cinematography. The framing, the color palette, the sound design—it all pops better than this film ever has before. The special features are also the most impressive of this crew, highlighted by a fantastic audio commentary track with Cronenberg and Hussain, along with new interviews with key players. They’re all filled with great details—including even a “Nightmare Weekend” easter egg—and information about the practical elements of the production like the extensive make-up and even Andrea’s costume choices. They’re a bit reticent to unpack the themes of the film, but that’s up to you to do.

I can vividly remember attending the TIFF premiere of Jeremy Saulnier’s “Green Room,” one of the most buzzed events of that year. Again, it’s a case of a filmmaker fulfilling potential, building on what we saw in “Blue Ruin” with another brutal piece of vivid entertainment. The late Anton Yelchin stars as a member of a band who end up at a Neo-Nazi bar, where things go very, very wrong. Perfectly cast and edited to maintain peak tension, “Green Room” is one of the best genre films of the 2010s.

The 4K here is a bit dim, although it’s supposed to be a grungy, dirty film—it’s better than if the film was too bright or polished, but I think the color could have been graded a bit brighter in some scenes that are difficult to even see. The sound mix is fantastic, as are the special features, especially a great half-hour interview with Saulnier, now a decade removed from the film and able to really unpack where it stands in his career (as well as to be remarkably vulnerable about the passing of his friend Anton, a truly sad story that I think about often, wondering where he would be today). I wish Saulnier would make something like "Green Room" again soon.

Finally, there’s the Limited Edition release of “High Tension” that came out a few months ago but just arrived in our offices after the last HEG. Roger’s review of this 2003 slasher contains one of his most famous lines when he says that the film has a plot hole “that is not only large enough to drive a truck through, but in fact does have a truck driven right through it.” For me, I see so many horror films that threaten to go off the rails and then pull back in disappointing ways that I love when a film like Aja’s actually FLIES off the rails. “High Tension” doesn’t make sense. I don’t need it to make sense. It’s a genre mood piece, an experiment in gore and tension, and that’s why I like it.

However, I don’t love the transfer here which Aja oversaw and speaks glowingly about in his new interview but looks way too dim for my taste. He complains that it was too bright in the other DVD transfers in the past, but you could see what the heck was going on in those transfers. This one is murky instead of vividly dark. It’s frustrating, but the special features help, especially that Aja interview in which he drops details like the influence of “Dune” on his villain and openly talks about the influence that “High Tension” had on the industry, which is undeniable. Even with that plot hole.

Brian Tallerico

Brian Tallerico is the Managing Editor of RogerEbert.com, and also covers television, film, Blu-ray, and video games. He is also a writer for Vulture, The Playlist, The New York Times, and GQ, and the President of the Chicago Film Critics Association.

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