The Haunting of Julia - 4K Ultra HD Blu-rayOverview -
The Haunting of Julia aka Full Circle finally arrives on physical disc with a brand new 4K picture and a DTS-HD mono mix. The results are impressive as this is the best the film has ever looked thus far. Scream Factory has done a wonderful job with its transfer along with some brand-new bonus features that are a ton of fun to watch. This film about evil, supernatural children is a blast and is not a forgotten movie anymore, but rather a gem in the horror genre. Highly Recommended!
"The perfect blending of role and performer with Mia Farrow ... either the victim of a ghostly possession or slowly disintegrating into madness" – Kevin Thomas, Los Angeles Times
Magnus and Julia Lofting (Keir Dullea, Black Christmas, and Mia Farrow, Rosemary's Baby) suffer a tremendous shock one morning when their daughter Kate (Sophie Ward, The Hunger) begins choking. Unsure what to do, Julia attempts a tracheotomy, inadvertently causing Kate's death. The tragedy sends Julia to a hospital to recover, but when Magnus asks that she come home, she prefers to buy a new house in London to live alone. Magnus begins pondering Julia's fragile sanity, while Julia becomes convinced that her house is haunted by the spirit of a little girl. A supernatural fable based on the novel Julia by Peter Straub, The Haunting Of Julia is brimming with haunting imagery and chilly atmosphere.
Contains a reversible art wrap featuring the original theatrical poster artwork for the film under the title FULL CIRCLE.
Storyline: Our Reviewer's Take
A good horror trope that usually sticks its landing is the scary, supernatural kids storyline. There's just something terrifying about an innocent child who wants to haunt the living and wreak havoc for the sake of being evil. In 1977, a movie titled Full Circle was released overseas but failed to find an audience for various reasons. A few years later in 1981, the movie changed its name to The Haunting of Julia and had similar failures even with the success of star Mia Farrow. More than forty years later, this movie has resurrected itself and comes to play with a vengeance that feels fresher than most horror movies today.
Julia and Magnus (Farrow and Kier Duella - Dave from 2001: A Space Odyssey) are a married couple who suffer the loss of their only daughter. Their marriage suffers from this tragedy and Julia moves out on her own. Lonely, she crosses paths with new people, one of them being a spiritual medium, which is where strange and creepy events start to take place in and outside of her new abode. These hauntings have deadly results as people around town start turning up murdered in increasingly bizarre ways.
The Haunting of Julia was a novel by Peter Straub who wrote 1981's Ghost Story and co-wrote The Talisman with Stephen King. This would eventually find funding and come to filmmaker Richard Loncraine (Wimbledon) who wanted American actress Mia Farrow who was still on fire from Rosemary's Baby. The result here navigates the struggle of two parents who are grieving over the loss of their child who may or may not have come back as a violent spirit.
Comparisons have been made to the film Don't Look Now with Donald Sutherland about grief-stricken parents and a supernatural child, but with The Haunting of Julia, things are more malevolent with the horror leaning into the anger and grief. But instead of working that angle of the parents and the death of their young kid, the movie travels to something more sinister that can be a bit misleading. Still, the end result is a gut punch that states grief never really leaves the human mind.
The Haunting of Julia is almost like two movies in one. There's the coming to terms with the loss of a loved one angle and trying to find a way to communicate with a spirit for closure. Then there is the evil entity that only wants to cause harm to others where both of these cross paths and don't necessarily make sense, but due to its amazing cinematography, direction, and fantastic performances, the movie succeeds and comes across as an original take on the genre. Either way, it goes, The Haunting of Julia feels like it could make big waves in modern cinema today with the likes of some important and well-respected horror filmmakers who are gutsy enough to tackle the subject. This is one film that deserves to be revisited and seen because there's nothing quite like it.
Vital Disc Stats: The 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray
The Haunting of Julia spooks itself to 4K via Scream Factory with a 2-Disc set. Both the 4K and Blu-ray discs are housed inside a hard, black plastic case with a cardboard sleeve. There is no insert or digital code available. The cardboard sleeve features an illustrated, creepy image of the main young girl with the USA title below. The case itself has reversible artwork where one side features the same as the cardboard sleeve and the other side depicts the Full Circle cover with an illustrated Mia Farrow looking from behind a curtain.
Interestingly enough there doesn't seem to be a physical release of this movie since the '80s, at least not an official one. The distribution rights must have come up this year because at least four companies in different territories are releasing the film at the same time. The most comprehensive version looks to be this brand new 2160p 4K UHD with Dolby Vision image from Scream Factory. This is a brand new 4K scan from the original camera negative and it looks exceptional. Sometimes when Scream Factory plays ball, they knock it out of the park and this is one of those times.
The color palette is much brighter and bolder with this new transfer. Being shot in England and the tone of the film keep it from being completely vibrant, so there is a dim look to the entire picture. But foggy grays and blues mix well with the green leaves in the park and trees in the surrounding village. The brown and gold colors in the interior shots look amazing. The Dolby Vision enhances those darkly lit sequences that reveal brighter wardrobe colors and distinguishes those darker shades of brown and earthy tones better. The white balance is natural and the black levels are mostly inky. There is almost a fantasy-like glow to some of the scenes, representing an afterlife and supernatural vibe, which fits perfectly. That somewhat hinders those black levels a little bit here and there. The blood always shows off its great shades of red in the different ambient lighting.
The detail is sharp and vivid now that reveals wonderful closeups. Facial pores, practical effects, individual hairs, background item textures, and stitching in the costumes look amazing now. There is a nice layer of grain keeping the filmic look of the movie. And the wider shots of the city and apartments look exquisite and never soft. There are no major problems with this '70s film and this is the best the movie has looked thus far.
This Scream Factory release comes with a DT-SH MA 2.0 Mono mix. There's a misprint on the package that says Stereo, but that's not the case. It's too bad this release doesn't have a 5.1 option, due to all the ambient noises and creepy sounds this movie has to offer, but this Mono track does the job well. It sounds fuller and more lifelike than on previous old releases and should satisfy those purists who watch. Sound effects are more robust this time around but don't offer a ton of heft with a low end during the more intense sequences. Background noises do come through but don't offer that surround effectiveness. The score always adds to the suspense and the dialogue is clean and clear with no tin can sound. This is a great listen but could have benefitted from a 5.1 option.
There are about 64 minutes of new extras with this release, and all of them are worth watching because everyone is so happy and energetic about talking about the film again. There is also a new commentary track this is recommended.
- Audio Commentary - Original Director Richard Loncraine and Film Historian Simon Fitzjohn engage in a funny and wonderful commentary track that is new for this release. They discuss locations, the story, casting, and fun anecdotes from the set with some great jokes along the way. This is a fantastic listen.
- Intro (HD, 1 Min.) - Loncraine intros the film.
- Coming Full Circle (HD, 11 Mins.) - Actor Tom Conti delivers a new interview about his career, horror movies, and working on set.
- The Fear of Growing Up (HD, 11 Mins.) - Actress Samantha Gates discusses working on the movie, with the other actors, and the horror movie genre in detail in this new interview.
- Park Life (HD, 16 Mins.) - Simon Fitzjohn takes the camera around the locations from the movie and showcases them as they are now as he discusses the film. This is pretty lively.
- A Haunting Retrospective (HD, 25 Mins.) - The hilarious and energetic critic Kim Newman talks about the movie and a ton of horror films of the '70s in this new interview.
The Haunting of Julia aka Full Circle is one of those forgotten horror movies from the 1970s but has been rediscovered and put to good use through 4K and courtesy of Scream Factory. This is one slow-burn horror film that has some frightening moments and goes to some unexpected places. The new 4K image with the DTS-HD mono track is both great and the bonus features are worthwhile. Highly Recommended!
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