It didn't take much deliberation for Judge David Johnson to pass sentence on this ill-fated British thriller.
Trust not what you see, for they eyes they do deceive.
Based in an odd vision of the future, The Rook follows the exploits of John Abbott (Martin Donovan) as an investigator looking into the mysterious death of a woman in a politically charged village, rife with secret societies and an atmospheric soundtrack.
This future is described on the disc jacket as a cross between "a medieval village and an industrial warehouse district." Yeah, that's about accurate, but one should always beware of the partisan proclamations boldly trumpeted on disc jackets. "The most inventive art direction since Brazil," screams a quote on the cover. Unfortunately, this one is a bit off, as most of the movie takes place in rather regular-looking rooms.
Okay, where were we?
Apparently, in this composite future of mish-mashed genres, a revolution has broken out. The land, ruled by an apparent theocracy, and stringently religious, has fallen into disarray as rebels have, well, rebelled.
The mystery this film sets up is how far have the tentacles and influence of the rebellion infiltrated the town? As Abbott is a staunch supporter of the traditionalist government, he may be a marked man.
What unfolds is Abbot's pursuit of the mystery's resolution, marked by his bizarre encounters with some of the town's more eccentric residents. Scattered throughout is some cool imagery—specifically, the mechanical desk scene—but it's no visual landmark.
The Rook isn't really exciting. For you ultra-cerebral audience members, it may provide enough suspense and enigma to capture your attention for its 88 minutes. On the other hand, Joe Viewer night have a tough time suppressing slumber; or maybe I'm a knuckle-dragging Neanderthal who requires exploding propane tanks and ceaseless gunfire to be entertained.
The widescreen format is nice, but the transfer looks pretty dated, despite the fact the movie was made in 1994. The picture is fairly lucid, though things get pretty muddled in the dark. Sound is in stereo, but that doesn't matter because nothing loud ever happens. For bonus features, Pathfinder included a director's interview, a stills gallery, and some biographies.
If secret societies and weird visions of the future are you cup of tea, drink up. Be warned, this particular tea may make you drowsy.
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• Director's interview
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