100 Feet (2008)
By: Paul Ryan on October 30, 2009  | 
Icon (Australia). Region 4, PAL. 1.78:1 (16:9 enhanced). English DD 5.1, English DD 2.0. 92 minutes
The Movie
Cover Art
Director: Eric Red
Starring: Famke Janssen, Bobby Cannavale, Ed Westwick, Michael Paré
Screenplay: Eric Red
External Links
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It's been a long time between drinks for Eric Red – writer of 80s classics The Hitcher and Near Dark - , whose last film as director was the 1996 werewolf flick Bad Moon. The reason for such a long period of inactivity is largely due to his involvement in a fatal road accident in 2000, which resulted in a civil suit in which he was found liable. Normally, I wouldn't include such details in a review, but it's hard not to feel that this experience has helped shape his new film, 100 Feet. Dealing with themes of guilt, shame, and atonement in the form of a ghost story, this is as much about the psychology of guilt as it is the mechanics of screen suspense.

Marnie Watson (Famke Janssen) is released from jail following several years of incarceration for the manslaughter of her husband, Mike (Michael Pare). However, her sentence isn't over, as she has to spend one year under house arrest in the Brooklyn home she lived in with Mike – and where she killed him after years of domestic violence. Mike was a local cop, and his ex-partner – and friend - Lou Shanks (Bobby Cannavale) is in charge of overseeing her home detention. Under the terms of her detention, Marnie is fitted with an ankle bracelet, which is set to alert the police if she moves outside of a set 100-feet radius. If she steps outside the house, she'll go straight back to jail with ten years added on to her sentence. Confined to a house full of mementos, dust and memories, Marnie is also regarded as a pariah by her old neighbours. While Lou continually harasses her, she takes solace in a growing attachment to grocery delivery guy Joey (Ed Westwick). But memories aren't the only thing haunting this old house, and Mike is still very much present, and determined to wreak revenge, and it's not as if Marnie can simply move out…

Exceptionally tense, atmospheric, and very well acted, 100 Feet is a very impressive exercise in suspense. Confined to a single location, we become familiar with the nooks and crannies of the house, and begin to share Marnie's sense of confinement and unpleasant familiarity. Red delivers a plenty of nail-biting setups (the scene with the sink disposal unit being a highpoint) that makes a couple of contrivances in his script – for one, why would Mike's ex-partner be overseeing his killer's house arrest? – forgivable.

But it's the depiction of Marnie's ongoing guilt that really gives weight and purpose to the film. We get a sense of the emotions that come with navigating the consequences of life-changing actions, and it's this attention to characterisation that shapes and enriches the film. Famke Janssen is excellent as Marnie. With her pale beauty and slightly haunted eyes, she is compelling and empathetic throughout. As the embittered, resentful, though ultimately well-intentioned cop, Bobby Cannavale is equally good, whilst Michael Pare cuts an unusually menacing figure as the vengeful husband.

Dumped on cable in the US prior to a quiet DVD release, 100 Feet is a genuinely nerve-rattling thriller (shot partially in New York with interiors in Budapest!) that rises above stock genre conventions to be something more memorable, and is well worth seeking out.
Given that this is such a recent film - and one mercilessly off-loaded on the home entertainment market – it's no surprise that the video transfer is spotless and high-quality. With many scenes filmed in low light, shadow detail is superb. The film's bleak look is very effectively rendered, and there are no compression issues or film artifacts. On the downside, this was shot (and released abroad) in 2.35:1, whilst we get it in 1.78:1 instead. It was filmed in Super 35 (meaning that the picture can be composed for multiple aspect ratios), and while the visual composition doesn't look compromised, it's still a shame we don't get to see the film the way its director intended.
5.1 and 2.0 Dolby tracks are on offer here, and they're both very good. There are some great surround effects in the 5.1 track, though the 2.0 brings out the background sounds a bit more prominently, so both have their particular virtues.
Extra Features
All you get here is a trailer for Brit flick 12 In a Box, which plays on startup.
The Verdict
Movie Score
Disc Score
Overall Score
It's great to see a suspense film that is truly suspenseful for a change, and 100 Feet combines palpable, sustained tension with detailed characterization and fine performances. Icon's DVD is virtually bare-bones, but audio and video – despite aspect ratio issues - are excellent.

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