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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Chiller: The Complete Series
Chiller: The Complete Series
Synapse Films // Unrated // December 11, 2012
List Price: $29.95 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Nick Hartel | posted January 11, 2013 | E-mail the Author
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THE PROGRAM

Initially airing from March through April of 1995, "Chiller" is a long forgotten, six episode British horror anthology series. Unlike "Tales from the Crypt" or "Tales from the Darkside," "Chiller" is a very straight-faced exercise in short form, supernatural storytelling. Covering topics ranging from your standard ghost story to a sinister small-town secret, "Chiller" is very much a slow-burn series that at a surface glance, has the visual look of your standard British drama. While decidedly not campy in production design, "Chiller" proves to be only a mildly effective (and that's debatable) entry in the genre, ultimately finding itself hamstrung by its own low-key approach to entertainment.

The two most effectives are "Toby" and "Number Six," both of which benefit greatly from the slower paced narrative of each episode (approximately 50-minutes). For a supernatural themed series, the writers, out of artistic choice or budget constraints, no one can be sure, keep the series far removed from the fantastical and decidedly over-the-top styles of more well-known genre offerings. "Toby" deals with the haunting and possibly phantom pregnancy of a woman whose baby was killed in a car crash. While never wholly scary, there's a consistent uneasy feeling running throughout the episode and enough false builds that you expect scares to come, even when common sense dictates they won't. "Number Six" is in fact less a horror story and more a police procedural using the investigation of a possible cult killing children as a plot device. There's nothing out of the ordinary in the episode until its final act, which pulls no punches and like "Toby" isn't groundbreaking nor wholly memorable, but at least a satisfying offerings.

The remaining three episodes are generally mediocre as a whole, feeling more like time wasters for genre fans only. The first episode is the most dreadful, taking the hackneyed prophecy/fortune telling plotline and clumsily trying to put a spin on it. I could easily see a viewer encountering this episode and deciding to pass on the rest of the series, which I can't say as I'd blame them. "Chiller" doesn't offer anything new to the game, aside from the deadly serious tone. Production design is sufficient, albeit overly dreary, which stacks the deck in terms of emotional tone. Performances are entirely competent, which makes the weak-on-paper scripts be realized with more life than they should. "Chiller" has remained out of the pubic eye for close to 20 years now and one can't say if that was justified or not. It's a serviceable, short horror series and likely to please, if one's expectations are reduced; nothing more, nothing less.







THE DVD

The Video

The 1.33:1 original aspect ratio transfers are in rough shape. Colors are either overly saturated when the image is clear enough or washed out, mostly in exterior shots that are thick with atmospheric fog. Detail is average at best, with a heavy dose of digital noise/grain overlaying the image. Compression artifacts betray that, the series might have been filmed on very cheap film and transferred to video; either way, not a very eye-catching transfer.

The Audio

The Dolby Digital English 2.0 mono audio track is flat, but free of unnecessary noise or defects. Don't expect any dynamic range, but even the thickest accents in the series manage to come through loud and clear.

The Extras

None.

Final Thoughts

"Chiller" is most likely to appeal to horror fans, but even those casually interested, if starved for a new offering, could do worse than the five episodes here. The technical presentation is adequate, but in a way, does the series no favors in terms of enhancing the viewing atmosphere. Rent It.

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