Blu-Ray Review: The Master

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Some films are just too bizarre to properly quantify. That’s exactly what I found myself staring at when our friends out at Anchor Bay sent over a copy of “The Master” for me to review, and found a truly puzzling performance awaiting. This one won’t hit until Feb. 26, so for those looking for a real mindblower, well, you’ll have a little bit of a wait for it.

“The Master” follows Freddie Quell, a World War II veteran turned drifter who finds an unusual movement–it seems more like a cult, really, but many call it a movement, so okay, it’s a movement–known as “The Cause”.

The Cause is led by Lancaster Dodd and his wife Peggy, though Lancaster Dodd is better known by another name: the titular “Master”. But the longer Freddie spends with The Master and his wife, the more he’s changed by the experience. Can he outrun his own past? Will his changes be for the better? Or will The Master oversee Freddie’s ultimate destruction?

Bizarre, frankly, is the best way to describe this one. Watching Freddie’s drifting trip through what I’m guessing is most of the United States is unnerving and wildly unfocused. I spent most of the first half hour having virtually no idea what was going on. And then, by the end of the first hour, I realized that I was watching a man be psychoanalyzed by what I was guessing was an early prototypical Scientologist or maybe a cult leader of some kind. Then the hypnosis kicked in. And the time travel.

Then I began to realize that I was just as confused as Freddie was, and that was not a good thing. I can no more call this a good movie or a bad movie than I can call two hours of watching a cuttlefish swim a good or bad movie. It’s just too bizarre, too utterly alien, to slap with an appellation denoting its quality. I have seen some bizarre stuff in my time. I have seen movies that most people have never heard of and would rather not hear of. But this one, this one takes the taco. This is the weirdest thing I’ve seen Anchor Bay put out and it may be the weirdest thing I’ve ever seen.

As for special features, “The Master” will be absolutely laden with them. Not only will there be a whole other film included in this one–specifically, John Huston’s World War II veteran-centered documentary “Let There Be Light”–you’ll also get a behind the scenes featurette, a set of outtakes, a set of deleted scenes, a set of audio options, your choice of English or Spanish subtitles, a set of audio options, and in something of a bizarre twist, not one single trailer. Nothing. Nada. Not a one. That was bizarre to say the least. However, being that this is a Blu-ray combo pack, you’ll also get a DVD version, and a digital copy thrown in for added value.

“The Master” is a wholly baffling feature. A strange ride, not without its satisfaction, but just so thoroughly unlike anything else out there that it defies classification. See it if you’re dying for a shot of something so unique that you’ll never be able to pin down a comparison point, but be clear: this is some very, very weird stuff.


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