DVD Review: THE ALIENIST

Warner Media provided me with a free copy of the DVD I reviewed in this Blog Post. The opinions I share are my own.

THE ALIENIST is based on the best-selling book by Caleb Carr. The limited series stars Daniel Brühl, Luke Evans, Dakota Fanning, Brian Geraghty, Robert Ray Wisdom, Douglas Smith, Matthew Shear, Q’orianka Kilcher and Matt Lintz. The series also features Ted Levine, Michael Ironside, David Wilmot, Sean Young, Jackson Gann and Stephen Louis Grush in recurring roles. Jakob Verbruggen serves as director and executive producer along with Eric Roth, Hossein Amini and E. Max Frye, Steve Golin and Rosalie Swedlin, along with Chris Symes and Cary Fukunaga. Serving as co-executive producers on the series are Marshall Persinger and Jamie Payne.

The best-selling book by Caleb Carr is the basis for “The Alienist,” a psychological thriller set amidst the vast wealth, extreme poverty and technological innovation of 1896 New York. A never-before-seen ritualistic killer is responsible for the gruesome murders of boy prostitutes, and newly appointed police commissioner Theodore Roosevelt calls upon criminal psychologist Dr. Laszlo Kreizler, newspaper illustrator John Moore and police department secretary Sara Howard to conduct the investigation in secret. The brilliant, obsessive Kreizler is known as an alienist — one who studies mental pathologies and the deviant behaviors of those who are alienated from themselves and society. His job, along with his controversial views, makes him a social pariah in some circles. But helped by a band of outsiders, Kreizler’s tireless efforts eventually answer the question behind what makes a man into a murderer.

This turn of the century psychological limited series takes place in 1896 New York. A sadistic serial killer is going around the city and murdering boy prostitutes in horrifying ways. The deranged maniac has shocking trademark methods used that includes the removing of the victim’s eyes as well as slicing off their genitalia and the crimes always take place near a body of water. The police department quietly assigns the brilliant Dr. Laszlo Kreizler (Daniel Brühl), an “alienist” in the controversial new field of treating mental pathologies. The story centers around Kriezler but he’s not alone in his journey.

Kreizler is joined by John Schuyler Moore (Luke Evans), a talented newspaper illustrator and Sara Howard (Dakota Fanning), a headstrong secretary to the Police Commisioner and the first woman employed by the NYPD. While the body count rises, the trio quietly gathers clues that ultimately gets them so much closer to the elusive killer but this mysterious figure always seems to be one step ahead of them. They also have to deal with their own personal and professional drama as well because there’s some tragedy (and a little romance) that slows them down a few times but they ultimately stay on the path that ends up leading them directly to the killer who gets a little reckless in the end.

The packaging comes with a slipcase. The front features the artwork you see at the top of the page and the back includes series details, credits, specs and list of special features. Inside is a keepcase that houses three DVD discs that feature artwork that includes each main character from the limited series. There’s also a flyer that includes episode listing and synopsis along with some images. Inserting each disc, the menu screen was simple and easy to navigate. The picture and sound quality for this standard-definition release were really good. I didn’t have any issues with the video and audio.

Bottom line is, The Alienist ended up being a fascinating watch. The story about this trio that’s paired up to investigate these murders hoping to find out why this mysterious killer is committing these unspeakable crimes in hopes to eventually identity him. These three go on a tough journey and grow close during the process but their focus on these murders takes precedence over everything else in their lives. I thought the writing was exceptional and the cast did a magnificent job with their characters. This is a moody and atmospheric watch and the impressive cinematography helps set the dark tone. The design of all the wardrobes and sets also looked spot on. All in all, this limited series is labled as a psychological thriller but it also possesses strong elements of horror and visual nightmares. The creative team didn’t hold anything back to bring this turn of the century period piece to life and it’s definitely worth a watch. The Alienist will be available on a 3-disc DVD set on September 10th.

Distributor: Warner Media

Run Time: 3 Discs / 10 Episodes / 440 Minutes

Rated: TV-MA

DVD Video: Widescreen Presentation

DVD Audio: English Dolby Digital 5.1

Subtitles: English SDH

Special Features: The extras include Pixel By Pixel, a behind-the-scenes featurette, Inside The Allienist featurette and Inside the Episode featurette.

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