The Vigil (2019)

FEBRUARY 21, 2021


One thing that is difficult for me (and I'm sure others) to remember when watching anything involving Catholic customs is that people who are part of another religion (or abstain from the idea entirely) might not understand the significance of this or that thing. The easiest example coming to mind is probably Dracula 2000, explaining that the title character was actually Judas Iscariot. For me, a good Catholic boy who had only recently stopped going to church every weekend after 20 years of following the practice, this needed no explanation, but someone raised without this story being recited to them a couple times a year might be like "Wait, who?" So with that in mind, I appreciate when a movie like The Vigil comes along to remind me how it feels to be completely unfamiliar with the customs and "laws" of other beliefs.

Luckily, the movie gives us enough explanation to get the basics (a Fangoria article about the film actually gave more context than necessary). The story hinges on the Jewish concept of the shemira, in which a body must be watched from the time of death until it buried. The watcher, a shomer, is supposed to read prayers of comfort for both the family of the deceased as well as the person's spirit, who may need the prayers to help them understand what has happened. It's actually kind of a lovely idea! No one does that for us Catholics, that's for sure. We just have a wake the day before we're buried, where people come nod at our corpse, shake hands and extend condolences to whoever is near the coffin*, and then make small talk nearby.

Anyway, being a horror movie, you might assume this is about creepy things happening during a shemira, and you'd be correct. Our hero is Yakov (Dave Davis), a man who has recently abandoned his Orthodox ways and even goes to a support group where he discusses the loss/change in his life with others who have done the same. However, his old Rabbi (I think? I apologize if I get the terms mixed up) waits outside the meeting and asks him to be shomer for a man named Litvak, who recently died and is set to be taken by the mortuary in the morning. Luckily for Yakov, the body just needs a watcher for the final six hours; his wife has been doing it, but suffers from dementia and needs to rest. However, the Rabbi has an ulterior motive, in that he hopes Yakov will rejoin their community and that this will give him the push he needs. Yakov doesn't really want to do this, for obvious reasons (he doesn't even know the family) but the man offers to pay him a few hundred bucks that he desperately needs as he is out of a job and rent is due. So he agrees, obviously. Otherwise there's no movie.

It doesn't take long for the odd things to start happening, and writer/director Keith Thomas ramps up the instensity at a fairly gradual pace. At first it's just lights flickering and things like that; he stages a great bit where a spider (?) scurries under the chair that Yakov is sitting in, prompting him to spend a few seconds nervously checking his clothes and trying to look behind his back, a feeling I believe all humans can identify with. Eventually he's seeing things and getting video texts of someone watching him during a brief period where he dozed off (which he is not supposed to do, if I'm understanding), and by the end we're into full surreal territory, with figures stretching out of the walls without actually breaking through (think Freddy coming out of Nancy's bedroom wall). Thomas also get a lot of mileage with a simple cracking sound that plays when the entity keeps mangling Yakov's hand; remember the sound of Mr. Glass' bones breaking when he fell down the subway stairs in Unbreakable? Think that but if it popped up several times in the film and without any indication to the audience that it was about to happen. Gah!

Along the way we also learn why Yakov has abandoned his faith, and it's not only heartbreaking, but also fairly justified in a way you don't often see in relgious themed horror (or even drama for that matter). It's not the usual "Someone I love died so how can there be a God?" kind of thing, but (vague spoiler) something happened specifically because of how Yakov looked as a Jewish man, attracting attention from some bullies that probably wouldn't have given him a second look otherwise. Thomas smartly keeps the details under wraps for a while, letting us just sympathize with Yakov as a young man trying to find his place in the world and scaring us a few times before letting us know exactly why he is seeking this huge change and what it has to do with his religion.

Thomas also gives us what is an increasingly common and welcome sight in modern films: letting us "see" someone's inner thoughts thanks to writing/rewriting text messages. It used to be we'd get those clunky scenes of someone practicing a phone call (and we still do; The Way Back had a good one just last year) but this is a tool they can use to get the same kind of brainstorming out but much quicker. Yakov has attracted the attention of one of the women in his group and she is texting him for the first time while he watches the body, so we not only see him Googling "how to talk to women" (heh, poor sod) but also struggling with basic small talk. When he replies "Hey" to her "hi!" and then pauses over whether to add a period, it's wonderful. In a second of screentime we get what might have been a page's worth of exposition about how he was nervous and didn't want to blow it.

Some of that shorthand doesn't always help the movie, though. There are a pair of flashbacks to a tragedy in Mr Litvak's past (tied into why there's an entity haunting him in death) and they really could have been fleshed out a bit, due to their significance to the story. The first occurs right at the top of the story and the other is near the end, so even though it's not a long film you might have even forgotten about the earlier appearance by the time the followup comes along, so that coupled with the vagueness of their context makes it feel underdeveloped. I also wasn't quite sure how Yakov got back inside the house after falling outside; the wife (familiar character actor Lynn Cohen, who has since passed away) bandages his wounds but she certainly couldn't have gotten him inside? With the number of surreal/hallucinatory moments in the film it's possible he never actually left at all, but his wounds are consistent with the fall he took, so a little clarification here would have been good.

Overall, it's an effective little chiller, nothing less or more. I am happy that Jewish horror fans can get a film of their own (one without a golem no less!) and found Yakov to be a solid lead, but I almost got the sense that Thomas had a banger of a setup but never quite figured out how to end it. It feels a bit padded at times too, which again suggests that the knockout premise was enough to get a greenlight without a fully fleshed out script (or perhaps budgetary restrictions forced them to gut parts of it). At its best (the first half) it gives the same kind of proper spooky vibes as The Autopsy of Jane Doe, with a dash of the (already forgotten) Possession of Hannah Grace; I'm a sucker for the "one night on the job" kind of genre tales and it more or less checks those boxes with the added Jewish element giving it some flavor. Just wish it had a little bit more so I could elevate it to "must see".

What say you?

*I will never forget at my dad's wake when someone who knew him from basketball (he was a volunteer ref and announcer for the local teams) came up to the coffin, said his silent prayer, and then proceeded to tell some of my father's old coworkers how sorry he was for their loss, while ignoring my mother and I standing right next to them. Really need a guest list for these things to keep out the randoms who might inadvertently make you burst out laughing.


Satan's Blood (1978)

FEBRUARY 11, 2021


One fun thing about the various Rosemary's Baby/Exorcist knockoffs of the 1970s is seeing what particular things the filmmakers deemed necessary to recycle for their own version, as if they felt explicitly tipping their hat would keep them safe from plagiarism ("it's an homage!"). For example, I've always been tickled about Beyond the Door having their weird kids drink pea soup straight from the can, and of course my beloved Cathy's Curse certainly seemed to think a swearing little girl was essential. In Satan's Blood (Spanish: Escalofrío), director Carlos Puerto lets you know that we're in Polanski territory instantly by having the elderly neighbors of our heroes stare at them in a knowing way, as if to say "Yes, these people are the Minnie and Roman of this film" before anything else remotely spooky has happened.

In fact the only other thing that might remind you of Rosemary by that point (only about five minutes into the film) is that Mariana Karr's character Ana is pregnant, a plot point that has no bearing on pretty much anything that follows. Despite the similar vibes, her pregnancy ends up being a total non-starter in the grand scheme of things; her husband Andres (José María Guillén) tells her she shouldn't go dancing, but that's about it - she spends the rest of the movie smoking and drinking without any concern. And she isn't even remotely showing (at four months! Bless her!) so if they snipped out the quick conversation about it early on I don't think it'd even cause any continuity or plot hole issues.

It also provides a very flimsy excuse for why Ana is bored, so much that when another couple pulls up next to them at a stoplight and the man claims that he went to school with Andres, she quickly agrees to their invitation to come over their house for a while ("We have wine and cheese" the man's wife offers, sweetening the deal to hang out with strangers). They barely even flinch when the drive turns out to be an hour away, and let's not discount the fact that Andres has no memory of the man whatsoever. I myself wouldn't accept this sort of out of nowhere invitation from someone I DID remember, but that's why I have never found myself as the lead in a Spanish horror film.

Or why I've never gotten to be in an orgy. See, they don't care about the baby, but the new couple is... well, horny. I'm not exactly sure what other motives they had (I'll get into spoilers in a bit for one possible explanation), but they sure enjoy having lots of sex with our heroes. After playing with a Ouija board (per 1970s supernatural movie law) all four of them disrobe and begin enjoying one another in all possible combinations except male on male (though we do see a penis or two, so they're not THAT conservative). Later when it's time for bed the couples enjoy each other on their own, as if reinvigorated by their little foray into group sex. And the woman (Sandra Alberti from Trauma, also recently released from Vinegar Syndrome) tries seduce Andres AND Ana on separate occasions, for good measure. These people would be absolutely miserable if they were still alive to deal with covid!

But in fact (spoilers here!) they're actually already dead. After a number of weird things happen, most of which are never explained (why is there a random would-be rapist hanging out in the house? No one - even the woman he attacks - ever really looks into his whole deal), our heroes finally escape the house and return home, only to discover their belongings are gone. The couple from next door - apartment 66 by the way, because subtlety - invites them in to calm down, and when they enter they see all the people from the house they just escaped. Everyone surrounds them and stabs them to death, and then we cut to a new couple who is out for a drive. At a stoplight, the couple looks over and sees... Andres! Telling the driver they're old friends. So the cycle begins again, which is cool, but I couldn't begin to tell you what the purpose of any of it was. If the only goal was to kill these people why did they drag it out for so long? Can't even say it was "to have more sex" because the horniness dies out by the next morning and there's still plenty of time left (and thus, chances to kill them).

That said, please don't take this as a criticism on the movie, at least from my perspective. I found the whole thing delightful, and - as noted on the historian commentary by Samm Deighan and Kat Ellinger - it's part of the "anything goes" mentality for Spanish horror that makes them so appealing. Unlike (most, not all) American films that have similar setups, there's really no way to predict how this one would end, even with the telltale shifty eyed look from the neighbors early on. Even when I was rewatching with the commentary I found myself surprised on occasion, like "Oh yeah, I forgot there was a random bit of possible cannibalism at one point." There's even a random evil doll element in this movie that would cause enough nightmares for a specific killer doll movie, but instead it's just one of the many oddities you'll find. I love that!

Apart from the historian track (which echoes some of their earlier ones in that it spends a lot of time on the general sub-genre as opposed to anything about the specific film) the disc also offers a lengthy retrospective documentary featuring Alberti, writer/director Carlos Puerto and editor Pedro del Rey. Alberti appears more than the other two combined, I think, but it makes sense since she has the most colorful anecdotes, discussing the film's nudity, a ripoff she saw (she doesn't say the title; from the historian track I THINK she is referring to Black Candles), the other actors, etc. For his part, Puerto sighs about some of the changes that producer Juan Piquer Simón (yes, the Pieces genius) imposed on the film but also takes responsibility for the film's lapses, so that's refreshing. An English dub track - which apparently changes the tone of some scenes by sounding more comical - is included for the film as well, for those who don't want subtitles.

Deighan and Ellinger point out that so many of these films are hard to find nowadays (and even those that are available are often presented shoddily), feeling that Spanish horror has never been given as much reverence from these companies as genre efforts from other European countries (namely Italy and France). So I'm glad Vinegar Syndrome has been focusing so much on it lately; it's a pretty sizable hole in my own viewing history (due in part to the aforementioned availability issues) and I've been having a blast diving in with their nearly monthly releases (I missed the second volume of their Forgotten Gialli boxed sets though, so I gotta pick that up to do my part to help convince them for a third volume). I can see a younger version of me hating this movie for its hazy plot details, but as I get older and more mellow, I find myself drawn to this kind of thing more often, and I look forward to more.

What say you?


A Glitch in the Matrix (2021)

FEBRUARY 5, 2021


(No, this is not a "horror movie". But it's creepy and terrifying all the same, and I don't have anywhere else to write right now, so don't give me any crap about it!)

On the floor in my bedroom is a Christmas card from 2019 (not a typo); it's one of many things in the house that aren't exactly where they should be, but fell or whatever at one point and isn't bothering anything, so no one bothers to pick it up. I pass by it every day and think "I should clean up," but then I continue doing whatever it is I was doing and forget about it until the next day when I see it again. It's something I thought about at a key point in Rodney Ascher's A Glitch in the Matrix, a new documentary that tackles the growing (and in some cases, somewhat convincing!) theories that we are perhaps not flesh and blood human beings, but - like Neo in The Matrix prior to swallowing the pill - just avatars in a simulation run by some higher power.

"What does that have to do with some trash on your floor?" you're asking. Well, one of the talking heads explains how video games work at one point; how everything we see is just ones and zeroes and, when the situation of the game changes, the bits of data that are a flower at one point are later rearranged to become a person. As video game consoles and PC get stronger and faster, the games are able to have more things on screen at once, and will load faster when you enter new areas, and you don't really think much of it beyond "this is still too slow" or "this is so much faster!" as the machine does exactly what that guy described: changing flowers into people, generally speaking.

"...WHAT DOES THAT HAVE TO DO WITH YOUR TRASH!?" I'm getting there, relax, hypothetical reader! OK, so, I don't think about the stupid card every time I enter the room and see it on the floor, right? If we're in a simulation, I have to assume at some point the computer will have reused those bits of data to make something else and will eventually just stop taking time out of its day to recreate the damn thing on my floor every day, because by now, after it's been there for months, it's obviously not something I'm ever going to bother to do, and furthermore if it were to just disappear one day I wouldn't think much of that either. I'll assume my wife picked it up, and by the time I'm ten steps away I'll have forgotten that it was ever there.


I'm also playing Breath of the Wild finally, and like anyone who has played that game knows, it is constantly throwing other things at you to check out, including silly side quests that might take an hour and net you nothing but some food to eat. But I fancy myself a completist (at least for named subquests I start; I probably won't have the patience to find every goddamn Korok seed) and at one point I found the item that the person wanted, returning to the town to give it to them. Once I did that, they moved on and, best as I can tell, never returned to that spot that they had apparently been hanging out in for how many virtual days as I fought monsters, climbed towers, etc without caring much that they put their little virtual life on hold until I returned. what if the damn card is a "side quest" I need to "complete" before I can get rid of it? What if the game overlords are leaving that innoccuous (and probably not particularly large, data-wise!) item there until I pick it up, regardless of how many other things I have done with my life since I first noticed it?

This long-winded pair of anecdotes illustrates the driving force behind Ascher's doc, in that even though it seems completely ridiculous to think we're all avatars in the biggest game of Sims ever constructed, our video games are increasingly making it easier to understand how people can believe in it, and also - though your mileage will vary here - easier to believe in it yourself. While the title suggests that the Wachowskis film will be heavily featured (not unlike The Shining in Ascher's Room 237), I was surprised to discover it was just as reliant on other movies and quite a bit of video games. In the first 50 minutes or so, we see just as much footage from Impostor (!) as The Matrix, as the former was based on Philip K. Dick and his stories (and subsequent film adaptations) form the basis of a lot of these theories.

But it's the game examples that really prove to be eye-opening. There's a clip from Red Dead Redemption 2 that shows how the NPCs are just going about their own lives and will make choices that have almost nothing to do with the player's actions, and like my Zelda example you get the impression that if the player were to just sit in one of the game's saloons or something they could watch little stories unfold within the virtual world. This, in the same medium that has allowed people to "break" games like Pac-Man because the (four) ghosts move along set patterns that can be memorized. It's been less than forty years between the two things, so how far will they come in another forty years? And when we see it, will it really be so hard to buy the idea that we might be in such a game ourselves? If a criminal loves to return to the scene of the crime or taunt the police in hopes of getting caught, wouldn't the same logic apply here? That the puppet masters program people to make these games (and docs like Ascher's - and yes this is addressed in the film) as a way of tipping their hat to see if we can figure it out?

Don't worry, I'm not about to buy into it. Right now on my wall there's a little dent, and a spot where they did a lousy job repainting over a crack or something from the previous tenant, and those are the sort of things that I can't imagine any "dev" bothering to include when there's a strong chance I might have never noticed them - it'd just be a normal, unremarkable wall. Yes, it's weird when you think of a song that you haven't heard for a while and then it's on the radio, and I had a "glitch" experience myself (before the movie even came out in 1999)*, but I lean towards this being a biproduct of the brain being something that we have yet to fully understand, combined with the uncertainty and randomness of how we connect as human beings. And my religious upbringing throws another wrench in the works - maybe God does those things just to let us know they're listening, even if - as we are shown every damn day, especially THESE days - they opt not to intervene with what happens down here.

On that note, religion doesn't factor too much into the film's theories and explanations; it's brought up of course, but never really dwelled on. Instead, Ascher focuses on some specific examples of people who not only believe they're in a simulation, but are actually fine with it. While it can lead to dangerous situations (one interviewee is phoned in from prison, as they murdered their parents thinking it was just a game), these guys are for the most part sort of zen about it. He also covers their appearance in game like avatars, an odd choice that actually ends up working quite well, especially when they do mundane human actions like scratch an elbow or look off to the side when trying to clarify what they're saying. It can be slightly distracting at times, but I got used to it far quicker than I expected I would when first presented with the image of some Dark Souls-y armored guy yammering about simululation theory.

The film runs just under 110 minutes, but honestly could have run for hours or even days; I do not envy the editors and Ascher working to get what was probably a surplus of fascinating interview footage into something manageable (especially when you account for the addition of film clips and animation eating into the runtime). It has inspired me to read up on the topic (feel free to recommend any notable books in the comments!), but more importantly it has gotten me to not write off the idea as such nonsense as I have in the past. Again, I still don't believe in it, but if you told me five years ago that we'd have a President that got banned on Twitter for encouraging a coup that failed, I wouldn't have believed that either. The movie hits VOD today, and I highly recommend it to anyone who enjoyed Ascher's other films (I think it might be his best?), but even more I recommend it to people who think the idea is completely ludicrous. Challenging one's beliefs and opening your mind to other ways of thinking - even if you don't ultimately feel the same way - is what makes us human. The people that are fine with never learning anything new are like those ghosts in Pac-Man: an example of someone's limitations being something someone else can exploit for their own gain.

And yes, I just picked up the card.

What say you?

*Back in college, I was on my way to get my mail one day when I noticed my friend come out of her dorm, with an unfamiliar man exiting the same door about fifty feet behind her. I didn't think too much of it (I only noticed the man because I didn't recognize him, and these dorm buildings were fairly small so I knew all the residents, but he also looked too young to be anyone's dad) until I returned from my errand, only a few minutes later, and saw the same friend followed by the same man exiting the same door once again. It freaked me out but good, and then a month or two later when I saw the Matrix I had my own "whoa" moment thinking about the similarities. But, you know, it was probably that she forgot something and the unfamiliar guy was a repairman who was going back and forth to his truck for parts.


Sputnik (2020)

FEBRUARY 1, 2021


One of the things that really devastated me about 2020's (and, so far, 2021's) endless stream of cancellations is that I didn't get to go to any festivals of note. Screamfest and Beyond Fest had scaled down drive-in versions, but given my aversion to seeing genre fare for the first time on a murky drive-in screen, I didn't attend them as often as I would had they taken place in their usual venues. So I ended up only really going to the films that were already on my radar; as much as I love going in blind and discovering things at a fest, I couldn't muster up the energy to drive an hour and sit uncomfortably to see a subpar presentation of a film I wasn't already interested in seeing. But had these fests (or others, like Fantastic Fest) gone on as normal, I have no doubt that I would have seen Sputnik at one of them and been even more impressed than I was with the Blu-ray at home.

And that's because I wouldn't have been told beforehand how good it was. I rememberered hearing a few raves out of whatever virtual means it premiered on over the summer, and even if I hadn't, this very Blu-ray slaps a Rotten Tomatoes' FRESH! logo right there on the box art (studios: PLEASE stop doing this! Use a sticker on the cellophane if it means so much to you to tout an arbitrary accomplishment), informing me that those who saw it found it to be very blurb-worthy. Normally I bristle at these shenanigans, but luckily I still knew almost nothing about the film's plot, so beyond feeling ready to have a "what's the big deal?" kind of reaction (wouldn't be the first time with these particular circumstances) I was still able to have that same kind of blank slate that I would get at a festival, where I often just see whatever I can fit into my schedule without bothering to look into what it's about or anything like that.

Ironically, if I knew the basic premise I might have liked it even more, as my expectations would be happily subverted. The opening of the film shows two astronauts returning from a space mission (in 1983; it's a period piece though it rarely matters much beyond dated tech like a TV that needs an antenna) and discovering that they brought something back with them, which is, you know, the setup for 800 movies that air on Syfy. One astronaut is seemingly killed and the other is being kept in a military lab of some sort, where he is questioned about the mission and what he remembers about their return. Feeling they need more than they're getting from him, the government jerks bring in Tatyana Yuryevna, a doctor who has recently gotten into hot water for ignoring protocol in order to save her patient - i.e. just the sort of person that might be able to help the poor astronaut.

Why does he need help, you ask? Well, as it turns out (and as the film reveals in a wonderfully casual way), the poor sod is now infected with an alien parasite, one that exits through his mouth every night and leaves him unconscious as it does the sort of thing movie alien monsters tend to do. Then it returns, with the astronaut waking up and seemingly having no memory of the nightly ordeal or that he is carrying another being inside his body. The science behind it serves two purposes; not only does it explain how something so big can be inside of him (the oxygen in the air enlarges it, and it shrinks again as it returns) but also offers a sort of ticking clock scenario, as the two form a symbiotic relationship, so one can't live without the other.

Based on that you will probably assume eventually the thing doesn't WANT to go back inside the guy's body and it becomes a chase kind of movie, with the creature killing various military goons while our hero tries to find a way to save the man she is starting to get close to, but I will only say that that isn't true, and the story takes more surprising turns than the initial premise would have you believe. The runtime (just under two hours) should be enough to inform you that this isn't going to be a schlocky Asylum kind of movie, but what's great about it is that it DOES deliver those same kind of cheap thrills all the same. There are some splatter effects in this that rival the deaths you see in the likes of the Wrong Turn or Hatchet series, which I was certainly not expecting after the first act, which suggested something akin to Arrival, where science and logic were the order of the day.

And even without those elements, the film would still be a winner due to its two-hander setup, where you're rooting for both Tatyana and Konstantin the astronaut, who ultimately learns more about his situation and has a whole new set of problems to worry about. He is a flawed man, but not a bad one - this isn't like Species II where the guy turns into a villain as the alien parasite gets stronger, so you're always on his side even if he occasionally does morally unsound things. Ultimately, alien or not, he just wants to reunite with his family, which I think anyone can appreciate and might even take on more weight with certain viewers in the current climate. Obviously the movie was made pre-lockdown era (it was actually a victim of one of the first major cancellations, as it was set to premiere at Tribeca in April of 2020), but it's going to be much easier to sympathize with Konstantin - confined to a few rooms and devoid of much interaction with other humans - than it might have been a year or so ago.

It's even more impressive that this is the first feature from director Egor Abramenko. His previous effort was a short named The Passenger that this film is seemingly an expanded version of (same plot, per IMDb, and also the same composer - Oleg Karpachev, whose work here is incredible), though that short's writer isn't listed as a writer here, so I'm not sure what the deal is there. But whatever its origins, it never FEELS like an expanded short film like many such things do; the film may be long but it's paced well, doling out reveals at a steady clip while never losing sight of the characters. Even the villain gets shades of grey; you can tell just by looking at him that he's going to be an antagonist eventually (you might expect to see him in a police lineup with guys like Stephen Lang, Neil McDonough, and Gary Oldman), but he's got a strange honesty about him that made him more endearing than the average "we want the alien for weapons!" baddie. His underling, another doctor that gets somewhat sidelined by Tatyana's presence, also keeps things engaging as you're never sure if he will side with her or not. In other words, the gore visuals are great and appreciated, but they're the cherry on top, not the lone bright spot they sometimes are in these kind of things.

As for the creature itself, it's an all CGI creation, which is a bummer, but at least it's a largely well done effect. And more importantly, the design itself is good! It's not one of those JJ Abrams-y monsters that have no discernible thought behind them; you get the idea that Abramenko or one of the writers could actually tell you things about its bodily functions that are never important to the onscreen actions. I might even be able to recognize it from a still image five years from now, unlike say, the Cloverfield monsters (any of them) which left my head the second I walked out of the theater (or shut off Netflix in the last one's case). That's really all I ask of these beasties, yet so many modern filmmakers can't seem to manage, as they prefer to just go nuts with their CGI designs until it's just a giant blob of stuff with a vaguely human or animal form.

The disc is coming next week from Scream Factory, but as is sadly often the case with their IFC Midnight releases, there are no bonus features to speak of - just the trailer. Seems including the Passenger short would be a no-brainer, so I wish that had been included at the very least, though not as much as I wish it defaulted to the original Russian language track. It's there, as are English subtitles of course (there's also a descriptive audio track, which is nice), but it defaults to an English dub, and - at least on the PS4 - there's no way to just toggle the audio or subtitle track with its respective button. Instead you have to bring up the pop up menu and enable them there, which is just frustrating and takes much longer. Scream Factory's discs are among the least user friendly on the planet anyway (no resume play, no return cycling of the menu options, etc. Most of their initial releases didn't even have subtitles!) but this is a new one that is hopefully just some strange error in the mastering and not yet another simple accessibility option that they won't be offering for whatever reason. Get it together, SF!

What say you?


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