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The Spine of Night (4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Review)

REVIEW OVERVIEW

The Film
The Video
The Audio
The Supplements
Overall

SUMMARY

In a medieval land filled with a powerful magical element, a librarian from the Church's sacred library steals a powerful substance called 'the bloom' from a witch and becomes corrupted by the power, spreading chaos, panic, pain, violence, and death amongst mankind in this violent and gorgeously animated fantasy with a star-studded voice cast featuring Lucy Lawless, Patton Oswalt, Richard E. Grant, and Joe Manganiello.

The Spine of Night is a rotoscoped fantasy animation feature written and directed by Philip Gelatt and Morgan Galen King that debuted at SXSW in 2021.

In a medieval world where a strange magical power called ‘the bloom’ exists, a librarian from the powerful church’s ancient library steals the power from a local witch and unleashes centuries of conflict, misery, death, and destruction on mankind even under the watch of the mysterious Prophet of Doom.

This is a film that is very much aimed at adults. If you’re looking for a Pixar film the whole family can watch, look elsewhere. The Spine of Night is dark, brooding, and revels in its medieval-level violence. The gorgeously animated rotoscope (the process of hand drawing over a live film to create a more realistic animation) production looks stunning and makes one long for the olden days of animation. If you know the films of Ralph Bakshi, like Wizards (1977) for example, then you have an idea what to expect from this film visually.

Then there’s the outstanding voice cast work from the likes of Lucy Lawless, Patton Oswalt, Richard E. Grant, Joe Manganiello and others that create evocative, often bone-chilling characters to go along with the eye-popping visuals. Does the screenplay sometimes lose its way and need a little more fleshing out? Yes. It’s quick 90 minutes or so could perhaps use an additional 20 or 30 minutes to help expand on some of the plotlines and the details of the world we are thrust into. Apart from this, this film makes a strong running for one of the best American animated films in the past few years.

The Video

The Spine of Night comes in a 1.78:1 HEVC 2160p (4K UHD) SDR encodement. Despite the lack of HDR, this animated feature looks gorgeous on this 4K platter with a filmic presentation absent of any banding or noise, lots of detail, wonderful colors, especially the dazzling cerulean blue of the bloom.

The Audio

This film gets an English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix that supplies superb balance and dynamic range with natural sounding atmospherics and full, robust low frequencies underpinning every wallop, gallop, and boom. This may not be the absolute top reference quality audio release, but it comes close, especially for only 5.1.

The Supplements

The two short films expand on the world of The Spine of Night and are not to be missed. There is also a very interesting ‘making of’ that gives a lot of behind-the-scenes looks at the production.

  • Blu-ray with feature and bonus features
  • Steelbook packaging
  • The Making of The Spine of Night (1080p; 00:29:49)
  • Exordium Short Film (4K UHD; 00:08:01)
  • Mongrel Short Film (4K UHD; 00:02:50)

The Final Assessment

Fantastic, violent, eye-popping, dark, and brooding animated film that evokes classic animated features aimed toward adult audiences. Highly recommended.

The Spine of Night is out on 4K Steelbook February 1, 2022 from RLJE Films & Shudder.


  • Rating Certificate: NR
  • Studios & Distributors: Gorgonaut | Reno Productions | RLJE Films | Shudder
  • Directors: Philip Gelatt | Morgan Galen King
  • Written By: Philip Gelatt | Morgan Galen King
  • Run Time: 94 Mins.
  • Street Date: 1 February 2022
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
  • Video Format: HEVC 2160p (4K UHD)
  • HDR Format: SDR
  • Primary Audio: English DTS-HD MA 5.1
  • Subtitles: English SDH | French | Spanish
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The Spine of Night (4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Review)In a medieval land filled with a powerful magical element, a librarian from the Church's sacred library steals a powerful substance called 'the bloom' from a witch and becomes corrupted by the power, spreading chaos, panic, pain, violence, and death amongst mankind in this violent and gorgeously animated fantasy with a star-studded voice cast featuring Lucy Lawless, Patton Oswalt, Richard E. Grant, and Joe Manganiello.
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