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Texas Killing Fields (Blu-ray) Official AVSForum

post #1 of 7
Thread Starter 
The Review at a Glance: ( max score: 5 )

Film: attachment.php?attachmentid=109943&d=1210373697

Extras: 2&d=1210373697

Audio/Video total rating:

( Max score: 100 )


Studio and Year: Anchor Bay Films - 2011
MPAA Rating: R
Feature running time: 105 minutes
Genre: Crime, Drama, Thriller

Disc Format: BD-25
Encoding: AVC (MPEG-4)
Video Aspect: 2.40:1
Resolution: 1080p/24

Audio Format(s): English Dolby TrueHD 7.1, Spanish Mono
Subtitles: English SDH
Starring: Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Sam Worthington, Jessica Chastain, Chloe Grace Moretz
Directed by: Ami Canaan Mann
Music by: Dickon Hinchliffe
Written by: Donald F. Ferrarone
Region Code: A

Blu-ray Disc release Date: January 31, 2012

"No One Is Safe."

Film Synopsis:

Inspired by true events, this tense and haunting thriller follows Detective Souder (Sam Worthington), a homicide detective in a small Texan town, and his partner, transplanted New York City cop Detective Heigh (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) as they track a sadistic serial killer dumping his victims’ mutilated bodies in a nearby marsh locals call “The Killing Fields.” Though the swampland crime scenes are outside their jurisdiction, Detective Heigh is unable to turn his back on solving the gruesome murders. Despite his partner’s warnings, he sets out to investigate the crimes. Before long, the killer changes the game and begins hunting the detectives, teasing them with possible clues at the crime scenes while always remaining one step ahead. When familiar local girl Anne (Chloë Grace Moretz) goes missing, the detectives find themselves racing against time to catch the killer and save the young girl’s life. Directed by Ami Canaan Mann, Produced by Michael Mann and Michael Jaffe, Texas Killing Fields also stars Jessica Chastain, Jason Clarke (Public Enemies, FOX’s “Chicago Code”) and Stephen Graham (Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, HBO’s “Boardwalk Empire”). Executive Produced by Bill Block, Paul Hanson and Ethan Smith, with music by Dickon Hinchliffe.

My Take:

Well after that synopsis I'm tongue tied-- That is Texas Killing Fields from beginning to end.

So was it good? Sometimes.

Acting was top notch with Jessica Chastain (Tree of Life, The Help) stealing the show as Worthington's ex-wife and the officer in the Killing Fields jurisdiction asking Detective Heigh (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) for help. Jeffrey Dean Morgan was typically convincing, adding a bit of weight to his religious and ethical character. Worthington never does anything for me but his monotone delivery fit the jaded Detective Souder quite well. Chloë Grace Moretz again shows her acting chops are leaps beyond her 14 years as Anne, the troubled girl who found a special place in Heigh's heart.

Directed by Ami Canaan Mann, daughter of Micheal Mann, the film was stylistically interesting, switching from a digital look to filmic look, and having some interesting steady-cam shots (especially the opening scene). Her pacing saved the movie as it really could have been an hour long crime series plot. The film starts off quite interesting, but at an hour in we know the killer is from one of the few convoluted subplots, and the real menace is just not apparent or scary enough for us to feel threatened or much emotion. The plot spreads itself thin trying to throw the viewer off which it completely fails in doing. If the film took a firmer stance withs it identity (is it a cop drama or a serial killer flick?), then it would have garnered a higher recommended.

Parental Guide:

Rated R for violence and language including some sexual references.

AUDIO/VIDEO - By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100 / EXCELLENT = 83-91 / GOOD = 74-82 / AVERAGE = 65-73 / BELOW AVERAGE = under 65

**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**

(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

Audio: 80

  • Dynamics: attachment.php?attachmentid=109946&d=1210373699

  • Low frequency extension: attachment.php?attachmentid=109946&d=1210373699

  • Surround Sound presentation: attachment.php?attachmentid=109945&d=1210373699

  • Clarity/Detail: attachment.php?attachmentid=109947&d=1210373699

  • Dialogue Reproduction: attachment.php?attachmentid=109946&d=1210373699

(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

Video: 80

  • Resolution/Clarity: attachment.php?attachmentid=109946&d=1210373699

  • Black level/Shadow detail: attachment.php?attachmentid=109946&d=1210373699

  • Color reproduction: attachment.php?attachmentid=109946&d=1210373699

  • Fleshtones: attachment.php?attachmentid=109946&d=1210373699

  • Compression: attachment.php?attachmentid=109946&d=1210373699

Texas Killing Fields comes Blu-ray Disc from Anchor Bay Entertainment & Starz featuring 1080p AVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 24.8 mbps and Dolby TrueHD sound that has an average bitrate of 3.3 mbps

Thankfully Texas Killing Fields video had strong and stable blacks with just a few moments of crush, as most of the time the film was in the dark. A thin veneer of what must be video noise covered the image, but was not distracting. It would be considered film grain if you didn't know it was shot on Digital HD Video. Colors never look vibrant enough, but seemed to fit the films local and general vibe. I think a bit more pop in that department might have elevated the over-all look. Fine details were quite nice, especially during the daytime close-ups. The Dolby TrueHD 7.1 track was a bit of a let down. When I see 7.1 I expect the film and mix must utilize the rear sound-stage a bit more than usual. Here it was basically atmospherics like crickets etc. Pretty disappointing really. The track was mostly quiet and a talkie, with dialogue that had a few occasional moment of "what did they say?". Rare scenes of action showcased car engine's and bullets that have a nice and palpable concussion, showing the track does have legs in the dynamic and LFE departments.

Bonus Features:

  • Feature Commentary track with Director Ami Canaan Mann and Writer Donald F. Ferrarone

  • (HD) Texas Killing Fields Trailer

Final Thoughts:

There's a reason a flick with a cast like this went covertly under the radar. It's because Texas Killing Fields felt like a pilot episode for CSI Texas. Acting and direction were all great, but the plot spreads itself thin trying to throw the viewer off, which it completely fails in doing. Besides a trailer and audio commentary, there are no extra features to be found. Above average sound and video from Anchor Bay help make the film worth a rental when nothing else is available in your queue.


Lee Weber
AVS Forum Blu-ray Reviews

Reference Review System:

JVC DLA-RS45 3D 1080p 3D High Definition Front Projector
Screen Innovations Solar HD 1.3 120" 2.40:1 CinemaScope Screen
Denon AVR 4311 Pre/Pro
Sunfire Theater Grand 7201 Amplifier
Sony PS3 Slim Blu-ray Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
MK Sound S-150MKII LCR
MK Sound S-150T Tripole Surrounds
MK Sound MX-350MKII Subwoofer
post #2 of 7
Think i'll give this one a spin despite how CSI'ish the plot maybe. True events like this intrigue me.

Thanks Lee!
post #3 of 7
Thanks Lee. This is one I want to see and am getting it tomorrow from Netflix. Mostly because I'm a big fan of Chloe Moretz so it was good to read in your review that she played her part well. Doesn't look like a movie destined for my library.
post #4 of 7
I read another comment this story happen in League City? Thats where my brother live.

I like both of these actor. So its a good movie and I will watch base on that. :-)
post #5 of 7

Thanks Lee. I liked this one a bit more than you did. I didn't find the secondary subplot about the 15 year old homicide victim to be convoluted but rather saw it as connective tissue regarding the relationship between the two detectives. I also didn't find the portrayal of more than one potential bad guy to be a veiled attempt to throw viewers off the scent. It became obvious pretty early on who was responsible for the homicide and who the real suspect was in the killing fields murders.

I would bump it up to three out of five..

post #6 of 7
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by Ralph Potts View Post

I also didn't find the portrayal of more than one potential bad guy to be a veiled attempt to throw viewers off the scent. It became obvious pretty early on who was responsible for the homicide and who the real suspect was in the killing fields murders.

I am glad you liked this one. I felt that when we pretty much knew who it was, what was the point of the other bad guys? For me it was an attempt to make us think that maybe he was involved, and I found that to not work at all and be a waste of screen time.
post #7 of 7
I watched this one last night via Netflix and enjoyed it ok--pretty much as I expected from reading your review, Lee. But I enjoyed how Chloe Moretz played her role so it was worth the watch for me.
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