Russell Clifton has financial trouble. Do you care? No, you don’t, and neither does anyone else watching The Tie That Binds.
It’s one of the film’s favorite tricks: wasting time. Anything of importance in this Keith Carradine and Daryl Hannah psycho romp happens in the final 10-minutes, the fugitive murderers seeking their daughter from the newly adoptive parents. That’s Clifton (Vincent Spano) by the way along with his wife Dana (Moira Kelly).
Tie That Binds is gifted with this gloriously overdone, melodramatic ’90s score, emphasizing the sheer stupidity and boredom of watching a little girl wander around the orphanage. Wesley Strick directs as if everything here is dramatic, from the campy instance of the kid knocking out five cops while in custody to the birth of a new baby. The latter only exists as a contrivance.
Everything seems filmed simply to pour it on, the emotional trouble of the little girl, the mental disturbances of Hannah/Carradine, and a constant series of shots from the kid’s perspective to further “size up” the situation.
Dialogue is detrimental to the narrative structure and performances more akin to a ’90s TV drama than a feature. Hannah and Carradine are only entertaining for camp purposes, gleefully dancing or spouting off religious babble as if it’s some type of character development. Heavy handed foreshadowing lays out upcoming events just in case the viewer might be surprised, following its own non-complexities to a tee. Can’t have people being surprised now, can we?
Mill Creek snatches this one up for a Blu-ray release, treating it to a 1080i AVC encode from a master that probably first existed sometime in the early ’00s. Damage is persistent on this source print, specks and lines hearty. The grain structure has been devalued to almost nothing, not the result of any tampering, just minimal effort on the part of the releasing company.
The rather dire detail situation is disheartening even a for a film few will care about, overwhelming softness part of what happens when you carry over a DVD era master. Extreme close-ups may represent the best this one can muster, the rest startling in its inability to not only appear crisp and refined, but also like anything resembling a Blu-ray release worth issuing to retailers.
The aspect ratio is opened up slightly, the 1.85:1 cropped to about 1.78:1, no ill effects resulting in terms of composition (not that it’s acceptable regardless). Compression and noise present a miniscule problem, a stray scene here or there succumbing to obvious swarming from the digital presentation. An encode error creeps into the frame about 1:23:03, lasting a couple of frames. Colored boxes pop up around the image, a sure sign someone didn’t proof their work.
Colors look natural to the stock if a little faded, flesh tones flushed a bit to compensate. Black levels are feeble at their worst, adequate at their best, and the contrast flounders its opportunities to impress. A slight bloom is filtered in to warm up and soften a few scenes for effect, the only highlight to this flat, clumsy transfer.
Defective is the only word appropriate for the DTS-HD audio mix, the electronic transition utterly failing to preserve basic integrity. Any sequence with mild to high-pitched sound effects (and there are a plethora) are destroyed by buzzing, warping, distortion, and a sound that can only be compared to playing Missile Command on the Atari 2600. As our leads are driving, the wind whipping through their hair sounds more like an insect staying afloat near your ear, a scratchy, distracting hum that is certainly not the audio track aging.
There’s a fight sequence at 28:57, the entire thing rendered unintelligible as glass shatters, shoes shuffle, and objects scatter. The dialogue is lost to the defects of the encode. The same things goes for the finale as characters scramble through brush and ponds, the splashing enough to do a quick equipment check to ensure it truly is the disc. There’s not another one on the market with such a glaring, easy to hear fault.
Even the music succumbs to something, background jukebox country at 18:20 wobbling in and out as if it’s on a warped record. Thankfully the disc is only given a stereo mix so these glaring, ear-assaulting problems are only being forced through the barely split channels. Dialogue may suffer from fidelity faults, the usual aging introducing a faded quality, but at least it can be heard when sound effects stay out of its way.
Extras? Nope. You won’t even find a trailer. The only options are to play the movie and visit a chapter select.
Note: Interlacing within the screens is an issue with the capture process, not the disc. Any other issues are part of the transfer.