Remember the days of browsing you local video store for hours in search of the next direct to video treasure? Well, this writer definitely does and it's an admittedly bittersweet set of memories, those were truly simpler times... But I digress, Bram Stoker's Shadowbuilder is one of the treasures I came across during the "DVD boom" at video stores. It's a totally awesome low-budget horror flick that's sadly been overlooked and forgotten. That is, until the fantastic company, MVD Rewind Collection, revived the film for a stunning new Blu-ray release!
In Shadowbuilder, an Archbishop and his loyal cult summon a demon with the purpose of consuming the soul of a young boy named Chris (Kevin Zegers), who has the potential of becoming a saint. If the demon is successful, all of Hell will break loose, bringing an end to life on Earth. Thankfully, Father Vassey, an ass-kicking, priest brilliantly portrayed by Michael Rooker, is on the case. After disposing of the cult in a very Punisher-esque way, Vassey travels to Chris' hometown, where strange occurrences are beginning to unfold. The demon has begun its search for the boy, taking the souls of unlucky townspeople and turning their bodies into shadows, which disintegrate as soon as they come in contact with any light source. Light is the demon's only weakness, but its resistance grows with each soul it consumes. Also growing, is the demon's dark influence on the town's residents (including a couple of rabid dogs), which it uses to turn the once peaceful town into a warzone that's sent spiraling towards its own destruction. Can Father Vassey, the town sheriff (Shawn Thompson) and his girlfriend (Leslie Hope), who happens to be Chris' aunt, stop the "Shadowbuilder" and save the world from destruction? If you've seen the film, you know the answer. If not, you'll have to watch and find out!
Shadowbuilder is a damn fun, late '90s flick that was widely overlooked by the masses upon release and sadly, still is today. I'm hoping that this Blu-ray release changes that. The film features a very solid cast, highlighted by the "hard ass" acting of Michael Rooker and a show-stealing cameo by the legendary Tony Todd. Featuring a chilling atmosphere and tense thrills, Shadowbuilder will appeal to both horror and action fans. I'd also like to mention that the special effects, though early CG, look surprisingly excellent! It's a shame that director Jamie Dixon only directed one other film after Shadowbuilder, the film definitely has sequel potential.
MVD Rewind did a fantastic job with the High Definition transfer for the film, the details are crisp and colors vibrant. This is a fairly dark film, so grain and white flecks are noticeable and present in darker scenes but it's not bad enough to detract from the viewing experience. The LPCM 2.0 audio track is clear and fully supports the film's dialogue, effects, and the brooding score by Eckart Seeber. There was no trace of distortion or dropout to be heard.
This is my first time reviewing a release for MVD Rewind and I must say, I'm insanely impressed! The Blu-ray comes packaged in a slipcover that gives a throw-back look of a weathered VHS case, retro stickers and all! On top of that, it's packed with bonus features. We get an informative 30-plus minute Making of Shadowbuilder that includes interviews with Dixon, actor Andrew Jackson, Tony Todd, and others. Other featurettes cover the film's VFX and profile the young star of the film, Kevin Zegers. We also get a commentary track with Director Jamie Dixon and a slew of trailers.
If you're an old-school fan of this film or are just looking for something unique to watch, this release is a must-own! If you already own the film on DVD, it's worth upgrading to this Blu-ray. The horror and genre film world needs great companies like MVD Rewind to uncover and re-release these overlooked treasures. I look forward to checking out other films from the collection!