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Two Thrillers from Sony Pictures

Closure (September 27/07)

Infused with a deliberate pace and an emphasis on character development, Closure is a low-key drama disguised as a revenge thriller; the film certainly possesses elements of both, though it's ultimately the former that winds up dominating the proceedings. The storyline follows a successful businesswoman (Gillian Anderson's Alice) and her blue-collar date (Danny Dyer's Adam) as they're brutally attacked driving home from a party and essentially left for dead; months later, the two begin plotting their revenge on the trio of men responsible for their physical and psychological wounds. Writer/director Dan Reed is clearly striving for a more meaningful vibe than your typical revenge thriller, as the filmmaker spends much of Closure's running time focused on Alice and Adam's ill-fated efforts at moving on with their lives. And although Reed sporadically infuses their motivations with a decidedly muddled sensibility, there's little doubt that the exceptionally strong performances by Anderson and Dyer play a substantial role in the movie's mild success (Anderson is particularly effective as a character that's virtually the polar opposite of Dana Scully). Further proof of Reed's reluctance to transform the movie into a typical revenge thriller comes in the third act, which is as violent and unforgiving as one might've expected - though the filmmaker's unwillingness to allow Alice and Adam to experience the catharsis they've clearly earned ends the movie on a thoroughly pessimistic note.

out of

Rise: Blood Hunter (September 28/07)

Stylish but sluggish, Rise: Blood Hunter casts Lucy Liu as Sadie Blake - an inquisitive reporter whose latest story brings her face-to-face with an underground society of vampires. After said creatures feast on her and leave her for dead, Sadie - having been turned into a vampire herself - embarks on a campaign of revenge against those responsible for her blood-thirsty fate (including James D'Arcy's Bishop and Carla Gugino's Eve). There's also a subplot revolving around a grizzled cop (Michael Chiklis's Clyde Rawlins) whose daughter was killed by the aforementioned vampires, though his path doesn't cross with Sadie's until the film's third act. Though Rise: Blood Hunter takes an awfully long time to get going - Sadie's transformation doesn't occur until around the half-hour mark - writer/director Sebastian Gutierrez does a nice job of peppering the proceedings with a number of individually compelling moments (Sadie's first attempt at eating human flesh is particularly well done). There's little doubt, however, that things pick up tremendously once the film morphs into a flat-out revenge movie - particularly as Gutierrez places the emphasis on the increasingly sinister nature of D'Arcy's central villain (he even gives Sadie the old "we're not so very different, you and I" line!) Liu's unexpectedly strong performance proves instrumental in the film's ultimate success, and there's little doubt that Rise: Blood Hunter is a far more effective piece of work than one might've expected (particularly based on its puzzlingly harsh reception at the box office earlier this year).

out of

About the DVDs: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment presents both films with anamorphically-enhanced transfers, and while Closure comes up empty in terms of bonus features, Rise: Blood Hunter contains a behind-the-scenes featurette and several storyboard-to-screen comparisons. The latter is also being made available in its unrated form, which is 25 minutes longer than the theatrical cut (this review applies to the 97-minute version).
© David Nusair