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Lionsgate Home Entertainment // R // May 11, 2004
List Price: $19.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
|[insert obvious camcorder joke here]
It's stated repeatedly in the interviews on this DVD that the terror in Nine Lives is meant to be more psychological, not a grue-dripping, visceral slasher flick. I call bullshit.
|At least there's one thing in Nine Lives that's really pleasant to look at.
Also noticeably absent from the exploitation checklist is nudity. I don't want to come across as some sort of lonely horndog, even though I kind of am, but a slasher flick without nudity is like a day without Doris. The closest Nine Lives comes to Mo Fuzz-style production values is Paris Hilton's plunging necklines and a quick shot of her panty-clad butt. Hilton's molded, artificial facial features aside, the female cast members are at least pleasant to look at. Amelia Warner in particular is a complete knockout. The movie itself also looks good, thanks to its gorgeous setting (the same home in which Robert Altman shot Gosford Park) and cinematography from seasoned genre vet Robin Vidgeon. The acting's mostly competent, although no one of any talent could make dialogue this trite and hackneyed sound believable. The most glaring exception is, predictably, Paris Hilton. I think Nine Lives was lensed before she became infamous for her widely-distributed sexual escapades, which leaves me wondering why anyone would bother to put her in a movie at all since she's entirely devoid of any skill as an actress. How can she be this unconvincing, considering that her character is a wealthy, vapid, materialistic debutante? If that's what director Andrew Green wanted to capture, he should've just avoided forking a script over to Paris, merely pushed her onto the set, and let the cameras roll.
|No wait, make that two.
Video: The movie may be horrendous, but at least it looks good on DVD, certainly better than the night vision cam quality people usually associate with a Paris Hilton project. Nine Lives is presented in anamorphic widescreen at an aspect ratio of 1.85:1. The image is crisp and well-defined throughout, though presumably its low budget precluded elaborate lighting setups, leaving shadow detail with a tendency to get murky in some of the darker shots. Even in those scenes before the magic fuse is cut and the overhead lights remain on, colors frequently do appear rather dark, though this is presumably an intentional visual choice. Nine Lives appears to have been shot on 35mm film, although none of the flaws typically associated with shooting on celluloid are apparent. That, or it was shot on digital video and convincingly processed in post to resemble film. The image is entirely free of flecks, nicks, or anything approximating wear. There is a bit of noise lurking in the background, particularly noticeable in one room with solid red walls, but nothing really of note.
Audio: Nine Lives sports Dolby Digital stereo surround audio encoded at a bitrate of 192Kbps. There are no subtitles or alternate soundtracks, though closed captions have been provided. The track's pretty straightforward -- Nine Lives is drenched in dialogue, which comes through cleanly and as clearly as possible considering the varying weight of the cast's accents. There's some light activity in the matrixed surrounds as the slasher fodder stumbles around dimly-lit rooms, but the rears by and large rarely draw attention to themselves. Pretty standard stuff.
Supplements: The only real extra is a collection of interviews. Participating are writer/director/producer Andrew Green, producers Nikolas Korda and Giles Hattersley, and cast members Amelia Warner, Patrick Kennedy, James Schlesinger, Vivienne Harvey, Rosie Feller, David Nicolle, Paris Hilton, Ben Payton, and Lex Shrapnel (who, based on his name alone, should consider supervillainy or professional wrestling). Despite nearly everyone of prominence chiming in, they're individually only given a few sentences a piece, not enough time to say anything particularly substantial. Selecting the Lion's Gate logo on the main menu reveals three trailers for some of the company's other releases, but a Nine Lives clip isn't among them. The DVD includes a set of animated 16x9 menus, and the movie's twelve chapters are listed on the flipside of the keepcase.
Conclusion: Clumsily crafted and relentlessly, soul-crushingly dull, Nine Lives isn't worth a rental or even bothering to stay up till 3:45 AM to watch on Showtime. Skip It.