The Minus Man (Blu-ray)

Aimless Vann Siegert takes a bizarre turn in life and becomes a serial killer, tracking down the miserable, the self-destructive and those who otherwise seem willing to die.

April 10, 2024 7 Min Read

Review by: Matt Brighton

Plot: What’s it about?

I’ve said in a number of my reviews that running this site has allowed me to find films that I likewise never would have been able to. I can only think of one at the moment – Howl, but I think one example should suffice, yes? I bring this up as I distinctly remember watching this movie for the first time. It was distributed by Artisan Entertainment (may they rest in peace) and it was one of the studios that actually (at the time) sent me product for review. I’d heard of Owen Wilson, of course, and was a big fan of his from Wes Anderson’s Bottle Rocket. As time has told, Wilson became quite the star back in the early to mid 2000’s and he’s still turning in wonderful performances. But it’s little independent films like this that really get my attention. Admittedly, the cast is a bit of a ragtag group. Yes, they’re names we’ve heard of but I’ve always scratched my head when Sheryl Crow is in the cast of a movie. Or maybe that’s just me. Nevertheless, let’s get started. It’s been a long time coming.

Wilson plays Vann, a drifter who goes from town to town picking up odd jobs. However, he meets people, he’s nice, but gives them a drink and all the sudden they turn up dead and/or missing. We first meet Vann in a bar somewhere between Vancouver and New Mexico. Local barfly, Casper (Sheryl Crow in her first movie) hitches a ride with him after the bar and then she turns up dead in a bathroom along the side of the road. As calmly and as quietly as he came, he’s gone…and it’s off to the next town. He eventually ends up in a quiet little place where he leases a room and manages to get on at the local post office. He keeps to himself, but the “man of the house”, Doug (Brian Cox) temps him to go catch a local High School football game. It’s not too long after this that the star player, Gene (Eric Mabius) turns up missing. It’s then that we get some insight into what Vann’s motives are.

Movies about serial killers are often intriguing, namely because they’re among us. Out there. Everywhere. My wife is enamored with true crime and I’ve always found it odd that her favorite shows are I Almost Got Away With It, Snapped and Wives with Knives. Should I continue to sleep with one eye open? Kidding aside, I’d forgotten how much I enjoyed this movie. It’s been a quarter of a century since I first popped into my DVD player. Owen Wilson was at the forefront of his career here and the cast is varied (Sheryl Crow and Dwight Yoakam, anyone?) but has strong performances from Wilson and Brian Cox. It gives us some good insight into the mind of a serial killer without going over the top. If this is one that’s slipped through the cracks over the years, and I’m willing to bet it has, give it a spin – it’s well worth your time.

Video: How’s it look?

I have no recollection as to how this new version compares to the original and, truthfully, it really doesn’t matter. What we’ve got is a new 2K Scan of the 35mm Interpositive. And if that sounds fancy, it is because I have no idea what an “interpositive” is. I just call ’em like I see ’em and I was pretty impressed at this 1.85:1 AVC HD encode. Despite the subject matter, it’s actually a pretty bright and colorful movie. Detail has been improved, of course, with bolder colors and a strong contrast. Looking back at Owen Wilson, it’s clear to see how much he’s aged (not that he looks bad now), but films really do date someone. At any rate, Kino’s restoration efforts have certainly paid off and this is, hands down, the best the film has ever looked.

Audio: How’s it sound?

We get a fairly by-the-book DTS HD Master Audio soundtrack. I found this a bit low in places, but I did seem to recall that this film wasn’t always about sound. Vocals are clear and crisp, surrounds are active in a few scenes(when a car goes across the screen and so forth), but nothing that will blow your eardrums. Simply put, it does its job and does it well leaving this viewer satisfied.

Supplements: What are the extras?

  • Audio Commentary – The good news is that if you’ve been waiting for an audio commentary for this film – it’s here. Co-Writer/Director Hampton Fancher and Producer Fida Attieh, Moderated by Entertainment Journalist/Author Max Evry collaborate on this track and I think this might be the first commentary track that I’ve listened to that’s actually had a moderator (I’m sure there are others, though). For what it’s worth, I always find it nice to have a new commentary track after a movie has had a sufficient amount of “shelf life.” Fans will eat this one up. Well, maybe “drink it up” might be more appropriate?
  • Theatrical Trailer

The Bottom Line

The Minus Man is one of those films, for me, that you forget how much you enjoyed it until you sit down and watch it. I realize that might not make sense, but in a nutshell – give it a look. We get a new transfer as well as a new audio commentary so it’s nice to see Kino leading the way with some of their Blu-ray and 4K efforts.

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