Cradle of Fear (2001)
By: CJ on May 10, 2004  |  Comments  |  Bookmark and Share
DVD
The AV Channel (Australia). All Regions, PAL. 1.66:1 (Non-anamorphic). English DD 2.0. 120 minutes
The Movie
Credits
Director: Alex Chandon
Starring:Dani Filth, Eileen Daly, Emily Bouffante, Stuart Laing and Louie Brownsell
Screenplay: Alex Chandon
Tagline: 'It's not if they die, it's how…'
Country: UK
Alex Chandon's Cradle of Fear reaches DVD courtesy of Australian distributor Umbrella Entertainment. It's good to see Umbrella building up an impressive catalogue of films on DVD, but sadly this isn't one of their better titles. That's not to say it's a bad release, it's just that the film itself is rather poor.

Cradle of Fear is an anthology movie with the stories tied together with linking segments featuring Cradle of Filth's Dani Filth as 'The Man'. Dani tries to be sinister but just comes over as being a bit silly, really. The four stories contained in the film take in a violence-orientated interactive website, a man who needs a new leg (so he takes one!), a woman carrying a very unholy offspring, and a revenge piece after two women rob and kill an old man.

It sounds promising, doesn't it? Unfortunately, it's all handled so badly that I found it very difficult to get any entertainment out of it. The final segment had some chilling moments, but that was about as good as it got. I don't want to be too harsh on Chandon, as he has a great love and affection of the horror genre; however, sometimes fans are not the best people to make horror movies (just take a look at The Dead Next Door for a prime example). The running time is way too long, clocking in at 2 hours, and it was a real test of my endurance to sit through the whole abysmal mess. Chandon should definitely have shortened the running time and tightened the pacing a hell of a lot more than he did.

The main problem is that this isn't really very good, it suffers from poor scripting, bad acting and laughably inept special effects. Sure, there are buckets of gore and plentiful nudity on display, but these elements do not in themselves make a good film. It's also pretty apparent that Chandon has relied on the presence of Dani Filth to sell the film, never mind the fact that Dani can barely act.

I'm really struggling here to say anything good about this film – it doesn't even have that 'cheese' factor that makes so many low-budget offerings such enjoyable viewing. It's a shame, as Chandon obviously had some good resources at his disposal, but he wastes all of them. He lingers far too long on the gore, which quickly becomes tedious, aside from also revealing how fake the gore actually is – sometimes less is more, a lesson he should learn. In making the film so graphic he has removed all elements of suspense and terror, instead he adopts a 'let's repulse the audience as much as we can' attitude. I think Chandon needs to understand that horror is far more than simple violence and bloodshed, and learn to tap into people's fears instead. Gore isn't frightening, but it can be utilised as a shock element, but only if done properly.

This isn't Chandon's debut feature, so I expected more from him than this muddled, incomprehensible mess. I hope that he learns from this experience and that his next piece of work will show a little more maturity as a filmmaker. There's no denying that Chandon has talent, but he certainly doesn't realise his full potential with this film.
Video
Cradle of Fear is cheaply shot on digital video, and this is reflected in the quality of the presentation. Framed at about 1.66:1 non-anamorphically, it looks as good as it's going to, considering the mastering source. Umbrella have done good job with the film, but the cheapness of the production is evident and I doubt there's anything more that Umbrella could do with the elements they were provided with.
Audio
The audio is a basic Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo, which is perfectly adequate. The music is rendered well (a mixture of techno and metal, which grates on the nerves after a while) and the dialogue is crisp and clear. Again, this is probably the best that could be done with what was provided, but it's serviceable and gets the job done well enough.
Extra Features
By the time the film was over I didn't really care if there were any extras or not – but a couple are provided, if you're still remotely interested by the time the film closes. These extras take the form of two theatrical trailers (though I would hate to have been stuck for 2 hours in a cinema with this pile of shit) and a short behind-the-scenes featurette.
The Verdict
Overlong, badly executed and uninteresting. A huge disappointment. Come on, Alex, I know you can do better than this.
Movie Score
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