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Sunday, May 6, 2012

BEYOND -- DVD review by porfle

Not your usual supernatural chiller, BEYOND (2011) is a competently-made police procedural in which the main procedure happens to be following psychic leads.

Jon Voight gives his usual solid performance in a role he seems to enjoy playing.  Detective John Koski, who's nearing retirement, excells in finding kidnapped kids although he's still haunted by the one that got away.  When a young couple's daughter Amy is abducted, Koski is put on the case by Chief Musker (Dermot Mulroney), who is the child's uncle. 

Teri Polo plays the mother, Sarah, and if you're a fan of this underappreciated actress you'll like her here.  Sarah is contacted by Farley Connors (Julian Morris), a television psychic who claims to be having visions of Amy.  As you might guess, Koski hits the roof when he finds out, but as you also might guess, he eventually starts taking Connors' psychic impressions a little more seriously.

The real supernatural aspect of BEYOND is Amy's relationship with her "imaginary" friend, Rory, whom we discover soon enough is the ghost of a little girl who met a bad end.  Sarah, her nanny Megan (Skyler Shaye, BRATZ), and Connors even go so far as to fire up the old Ouija board in Amy's room, in addition to coaxing Rory to leave messages on the girl's Etch-a-Sketch. 

It sounds creepy, but aside from some bad vibes emanating from Amy's rocking chair, these scenes aren't really played for major chills.  In fact, nowhere in the film will you find any attempt to actually frighten us, not even the usual jump-scares.  That in itself is kind of refreshing, with seemingly every director these days trying his hand at jarring us out of our seats one way or the other. 

The film's main conflict is between earnest psychic Connors, who wants to use his "gift" to help find the little girl, and crusty old Koski, who thinks he's a fraud who may even be involved in the kidnapping.  Voight easily gives their scenes together enough electricity to keep them interesting without having to do any "big" acting--his performance is low-key and realistic. 

Polo and Mulroney (who is finally looking like a grownup instead of your daughter's scuzzy boyfriend) also add their talents to help elevate what pretty much looks like a well-done TV-movie.  Location filming in Anchorage, Alaska gives everything a chilly, often gloomy atmosphere.

The story maintains our interest as it builds to the exchange of ransom money for Amy, with her father (Ben Crowley) following cell phone directions to the drop point as Koski tails him, but the film never really generates a whole lot of tension or suspense. 

Pacing is slack and things take their time unfolding--even the mildly-surprising twist ending is played out with the patience of a fly fisherman.  Of course, this isn't necessarily a bad thing unless you're expecting nail-biting thrills.

The DVD from Anchor Bay is in 2.40:1 anamorphic widescreen with Dolby 5.1 sound and subtitles in English and Spanish.  No extras.

Neither very good nor very bad, BEYOND easily suffices as a mildly absorbing time-waster that's quite watchable.  But while the idea of blending cop movie and ghost story is interesting, the execution seems to lack any real impact. 

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