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“EVERLY” (FANTASTICA Blu-Ray Review)

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For genre fans, EVERLY is, on many levels, Joe Lynch’s time to shine without lingering in any specific shadow. While the Troma graduate has made good over the years and developed his skills as a filmmaker, his previous feature films, WRONG TURN 2 and KNIGHTS OF BADASSDOM, have largely operated against the reputation of a franchise or, in case of the latter, behind the scenes problems. But with EVERLY, Lynch had the chance to create a bloody and badass tale in a universe of his own design, and while the film hits peaks and valleys narratively, the sense of passion in Lynch’s cinematic voice is unmistakable.

For those unfamiliar, EVERLY has a fairly straightforward premise as we follow a victim of sex trafficking as she turns the tables on her captors and finds herself in a fight for her life and the life of her unwitting family. While the subject matter may seem heavy-handed and depressing, Lynch’s approach is much more heightened, tackling EVERLY as a shoot-’em-up with flourishes of Tarantino-esque worldbuilding and female empowerment drama. In doing so, the construct of EVERLY- often described as “DIE HARD in a room”- is subverted, with colorful characters and interesting visuals coming to the action rather than the other way around. And yet while EVERLY does work for the large part, the repetitive nature of the film as well as a wealth of two-dimensional characters keep the film from being a home run.

Overall, audiences will know within the first ten minutes whether or not EVERLY is for them; it’s a very specific kind of action film with a very colorful atmosphere. EVERLY is also somewhat of a tonal rollercoaster, jumping from a harrowing story about an unwilling prostitute and pained mother to a bloody action tale with eccentric villains and expendable henchman. That’s not to say both aspects can’t co-exist; in fact, one of Lynch’s strong points in EVERLY is segueing between tones and material, all the while keeping the story organic to its path. But it does mean that EVERLY requires a bit of an open-mind and a fair share of patience towards the logic of its almost comic book-esque chain of events.

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And thanks a Blu-ray from the good folks at Anchor Bay, those who can appreciate EVERLY for the strange beast that it is can enjoy the film in high definition. However, in terms of recent releases, one can’t help but be dismayed by EVERLY’s HD transfer, which may be admittedly weaker than that of the film’s “Ultra-VOD” release. The picture quality is still, for the most part, stunning, especially during close-ups, but the digital cinematography does not seem as vibrant or effective as it had previously. However, where Anchor Bay did succeed is the audio transfer, providing a bombastic sound mix that really immerses the audience into the chaotic world of EVERLY.

Unfortunately, EVERLY also contains a disappointing lack of tangible special features. While the Lynch-directed “Silent Night” music video for Raya Yarbrough is visually stunning, it’s little more than a dramatic black and white rendition of an all-too-familiar Christmas song. And while the disc also features two separate commentary tracks, a “creative feature commentary” and a “technical feature commentary”, the tracks are largely guided by Lynch himself. That’s certainly not a bad thing, especially considering Lynch’s natural charisma, but it does shift the perspectives from two separate and unique tracks to essentially opposite sides of the same coin.

Make no mistake: EVERLY is a very fun film when it wants to be, and has ambition like few other films of its budget and “DIE HARD in a ___” have, which should guide Lynch and action fans to the disc in any case. But for a film that takes so many narrative chances and shoots for the moon, EVERLY deserves a less pedestrian home media release. Anchor Bay knows how to put out a solid film release when they need to be, as they’ve provided and continue to provide some of the coolest indie discs to date in the genre, and there’s also the possibility that the materials they were given from Radius-TWC may have been lesser compared to their Digital HD release. But in any case, with nearly inconsequential features, picking up EVERLY on Blu-ray will largely revolve around how you liked the kick-ass film in general, and should the film find a greater audience on home media, perhaps fans will get a proper collector’s edition for this frenzied flick.

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About the author
Ken W. Hanley
Ken W. Hanley is the Managing Web Editor for FANGORIA and STARLOG, as well as the former Web Editor for Diabolique Magazine and a contributing writer to YouWonCannes.com. He’s a graduate from Montclair State University, where he received an award for Excellence in Screenwriting. He’s currently working on screenplays, his debut novel "THE I IN EVIL", and various other projects, and can be followed on Twitter: @movieguyiguess.
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