Kaleidoscope Blu-ray Review

Written by Robert Gold

Blu-ray released by Scream Factory

Written and directed by Rupert Jones
2016, 100 minutes, Not Rated
Blu-ray released on May 1st, 2018

Toby Jones as Carl
Anne Reid as Aileen
Sinead Matthews as Abby
Cecilia Noble as Monique
Karl Johnson as John



Carl is a simple man with an unexciting life. He lives alone in a large apartment complex where he remains isolated from everyone except his neighbor. He decides to attempt something new in the form of online dating and enjoys his first night out with a woman in many years. The fun is soon over as Carl wakes to find a dead body in his home. Things only get worse as he is forced to deal with an unexpected houseguest, his mother. Their relationship is strained beyond repair but he must endure her visit for a short time if he is to maintain a semblance of the life he has created for himself. Her visit sparks a bit of a breakdown for Carl, who is having difficulty telling fantasy from reality in a rapidly escalating nightmare that soon involves the police. Things are getting real very quickly and Carl isn’t quite sure how he fits at the center of this mystery, but his mother may hold some of the answers.

Kaleidoscope is a psychological drama that aspires to be considered alongside the works of artists like Alfred Hitchcock and Roman Polanski, but falls short of the mark. The mystery is compelling and the complicated story involving, but there is something lacking in the execution. Rupert Jones makes his feature debut as writer/ director with this claustrophobic tale that starts off strong before succumbing to some overly clever repetition. The script itself works more often than not with a nice blending of reality and imagination, but there is something off with the edit that affects the overall pacing. This is a slow boil to be sure and Jones knows how to build tension from one scene to the next without showing his hand too early. He pulls terrific performances from his cast and the cinematography works in spades, but the assembly is lacking and spoils a lot of strong effort.


The always welcome character actor Toby Jones (The Mist), brother to director Rupert, stars as Carl, the soft-spoken protagonist caught in a nightmare that keeps him on edge. Jones takes the lead in almost every scene, navigating the psychological minefield with ease. His best moments come opposite British TV luminary Anne Reid (Hot Fuzz), who plays his domineering mother Aileen. She is not the frail old woman she appears to be from her introduction and proves to be quite the clever and resourceful adversary. She casts a long shadow over her mild-mannered son and knows how to play him no matter how strained their relationship grows. The other woman in Carl’s life is Abby (Sinead Matthews, Pirate Radio), the free spirit who joins him for the evening that sets everything in motion. The two could not be more opposite in personality as she tries to coax him out of his shell and have some fun.

Kaleidoscope is a very promising picture that is undermined by its construction. The twists and turns are welcome as in any mystery, but the execution drags everything down and the picture barely recovers. The performances keep things afloat and Rupert Jones is a strong storyteller with a keen eye for direction. The picture will likely benefit from repeat viewings certain to capture the subtleties of some well-placed clues. It is a shame that the editing gets in the way of the story because I’m sure on paper it is quite compelling.


Video and Audio:

Presented in the original 1.85:1 aspect ratio, the film receives a strong transfer that is pleasing to the eye. Much of this tale is set in the shadows and black levels are up to the task as are the occasionally bold colors. Flesh tones appear natural throughout and there is plenty of small-object detail.

There are two audio options on this disc; a DTS-HD MA 5.1 track and a DTS-HD MA 2.0 stereo mix. Either is suitable, as this is not a very loud picture, but the sound design is given a boost in the expanded 5.1 track.

Optional English or Spanish subtitles are included for anyone in need.


Special Features:

The Making of Kaleidoscope (2 minutes) is a self-explanatory piece that is a standard behind-the-scenes glimpse loaded with interviews with the director and his cast. This is informative but way too short.

Equally brief is the segment Working in the Studio (2 minutes) that features the same participants discussing the benefits of working in a controlled environment.

Keeping Up with the Joneses (2 minutes) keeps things as short as its predecessors with the same talking heads discussing the director and his brother.

The original trailer (2 minutes) is also included.



Movie: Cover
Overall: 3 Star Rating

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Robert Gold
Staff Reviewer
Robert's favorite genres include horror (foreign and domestic), Asian cinema and pornography (foreign and domestic). His ability to seek out and enjoy shot on video (SOV) horror movies is unmatched. His love of films with a budget under $100,000 is unapologetic.
Other articles by this writer


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