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Super Hybrid (2011)

Anchor Bay Entertainment
Blu-ray Disc Released: 8/23/2011

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Review by Mike Long, Posted on 8/18/2011

Not to put too sharp a point on it, but most horror movies are about people dying, and the people who are killed in these movies falls victim to a vast variety of weapons -- knives, axes, machetes, chainsaws, electrical appliances, and sometimes a good old-fashioned gun. So, it's interesting when you consider that one of the most dangerous weapons in real-life, the automobile, is rarely used. Last year, nearly 100 people a day died on U.S. roads, but not that many fell victim to vehicular mayhem in the movies. Still, that doesn't mean that this idea is completely ignored in the cinema and someone had the wherewithall to bring us Super Hybrid, a killer-car movie.

Super Hybrid takes place at a city auto garage in Chicago (Although the garage's purpose is quite vague. Wrecked cars are brought there, but they also repair police cars.) The garage is being painted and will be shutting down for the weekend. Despite this, one last vehicle, which has been involved in a spectacular collision, is brought in. The staff go about their business, under the strict eye of manager, Ray (Oded Fehr). Al (Josh Strait) goes to investigate the wrecked car, which now looks brand new, and it immediately attacks and kills him. Tilda (Shannon Beckner), Bobby (Ryan Kennedy), and Gordy (Adrien Dorval) go to investigate and they're fascinated by the unique design of the car. They're also surprised by the fact that the car has giant eels under the hood. The car attacks once again, and a standoff begins between the humans and the car, all of whom are trapped in the building. Things get worse for Tilda and her co-workers when they realize that the car can look like any vehicle that it wishes.

It would be an understatement to call me jaded and cynical, but I just don't expect anything from most low-budget horror movies anymore. Of course, you can also call me a hypocrite, because it was the low-budget horror movies which I watched in my developmental years which blew my mind with their originality. Well, I guess I've learned my lesson, as Super Hybrid surprised me with an idea that I've never seen before...granted, it was a dumb idea, but it was original.

When most people think of "killer car" movies, a sub-genre which seems to check in every 10 years or so, most think of Christine. Super Hybrid comes much closer to 1977's The Car, which was itself simply a version of Jaws set on dry land with a car in place of the shark. Super Hybrid takes this idea and runs with it. (As in The Car, there are shots from the car's point-of-view...which seems silly...and is.) The movie actually plays like an Earth-bound version of Alien or a subterranean version of Deep Blue Sea. The characters are trapped in the garage with no chance of rescue as the car stalks them changing its appearance as needed. They make plans to trap the car and must put aside their personal differences in order to stop the onslaught.

So, we get the typical personal interactions (Ray is a jerk and Tilda is the only one who will stand up to him) and the kind of hide and seek stalking that we've seen in many other movies. The garage is filled with dark corners which allow the car to jump out of the shadows, just as we've seen in other movies. So, what's the original part? Did I mention that the car is a chameleon which can change shape at will? It's not a Transformer -- it can become any car that it wants. Did I mention that the car was filled with eel-like creatures? When was the last time that you saw that in a movie? No explanation is given for the origin of the eel-laden deathmobile and any backstory would probably ruin everything. We just learn that the car is alive and that it wants to kill and the movie takes it from there.

If you think that Super Hybrid sounds as dumb as a box of rocks and like something which should be relegated to SyFy, you're half right. The story is pretty stupid, but the movie is one of the better "it came out of nowhere" low-budget horror movies which I've seen lately. Super Hybrid comes from Director Eric Valette, who made the underrated One Missed Call remake, and Neal Marshall Stevens the writer of 2001's Thirteen Ghosts. While Oded Fehr may be the only recognizable face in front of the camera, having these vets behind the camera makes a difference. The movie may be stupid, but it's effective. There genuine moments of tension as the character go through the garage, unsure of which car is which, and there are some surprising deaths. The movie leans more towards goofy fun than scary, but the bottom line is that Super Hybrid pay homage to silly movies from the past while bringing something new to the table, and that got my engine running.

Super Hybrid could have turned into some cooler-looking cars if it really wanted to on Blu-ray Disc courtesy of Anchor Bay Entertainment. The film has been letterboxed at 1.78:1 and the Disc carries an AVC 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 30 Mbps. The image is very sharp and clear, showing no grain and no defects from the source material. The picture is a bit dark at times, but the black tones still look rich and true. The image has a nice level of detail, as we can see textures on surfaces. The depth is good, as the garage looks like it goes on forever. The Disc carries a Dolby TrueHD 5.1 track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 4.0 Mbps. The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. The bass is very solid and the subwoofer got a great workout from the track. The front channels are active as well, and the stereo effects are very detailed. However, the surround sound often blends with the front channels, save for the finale.

The lone extra on the Super Hybrid Blu-ray Disc is "Under the Hood of Super Hybrid" (34 minutes). This is a detailed making-of featurette which contains an ample amount of comments from the cast and filmmakers, as well as behind-the-scenes footage. The piece opens by exploring how the project got off the ground, moves into the casting process (where the characters are discussed). From there, the production is examined, specifically the look of the garage to the cars of the film and the special effects.

Review Copyright 2011 by Mike Long