Revisiting I Think We're Alone Now

This is one I never expected to see on blu-ray because, as we'll see, blu-ray really couldn't help this movie.  And that's not me taking a shot - this movie is great, I've been a huge fan of it since it first came out on DVD back in 2010.  But considering how this film was made, I don't think it could benefit from being in HD.  Vinegar Syndrome partner label ETR Media, however, seems to disagree.  Or at least they have some reason to reissue this on blu, so I'm hooked.  Let's see what they're bringing to the table.
If you've never heard of it, 2008's I Think We're Alone Now is a documentary that takes a very intimate look at two Tiffany (as in the 80's pop star who sang the hit record "I Think We're Alone Now") stalkers.  This is a very personal story of two very different (from each other and most anybody else) people, that certainly puts their eccentricities up for display, and is a very eye-opening look at the sort of person who almost never get spotlight.  But it's not exploitative like, say, 1998's Jefftowne.  I remember several co-workers of mine getting very excited about the Troma DVD of Jefftowne, which is also a very intimate look at, in this case, someone with Down's Syndrome, and the hook there was that he drank beer, cursed and was essentially a bad boy shit-kicker type - isn't that a funny?  And there is something very compelling about that film, too, just because the filmmakers get very close.  But I was mostly struck by how cruel the people were around him, encouraging his bad behavior for laughs and toying with him, embarrassing him by talking about his crushes and porn to the camera, even though he ostensibly didn't mind.  Thankfully, this film isn't like that.  It has all the good but none of the bad.
I mean, first of all, neither of the two characters in this film, Jeff and Kelly, have Down's Syndrome.  Jeff tells us he has Asperger's Syndrome and they're both suffering a weird an extreme fixation, but they're both have complete mental faculties and clearly know what they're getting into and sharing with us.  There are certainly humorous elements here, but we're not just being set up here to point and laugh at the weirdos.  In fact, this is can be a pretty wrenching film in terms of how much you wind up feeling for everyone involved.  You feel sorry for Tiffany, because she has had to get restraining orders and things.  This film starts out with the newspaper headlines of some of the things she's had to go through with Jeff.  These aren't just really big fans of her music; they feel they are fully, completely in love with her.  And in some way we're just sinking into their inevitable heartbreak.  But fortunately they have enough spirit to keep us from spiraling into utter depression - scenes like the one where Jeff tells his pastor, who's trying to sing a hymn, how he talked to Tiffany at a porn convention (apparently she went because she once posed for Playboy), and she was the most Christ-like person in the world put a great big smile on my face.  The movie's a roller coaster.
2010 MVD Visual DVD top; 2022 ETR Media BD bottom.
I Think We're Alone Now is another one of those early digital shot-on-SD films, and in this particular case, seems to have been shot with a mix of different consumer cameras.  So there's no additional detail to restore.  The BD is a smidgen wider, going from 1.33:1 to 1.35:1, which I suppose is a slight correction.  The DVD was interlaced, and so is the BD; again, because it's surely baked into the original footage.  I owned a couple digital cameras in those days, and unless you spent the money for serious professional cameras, this is what you've got.  The camera struggles especially in low-light, yielding almost as much digital noise as actual detail.  Putting it on a higher def disc doesn't help that.  It does look like efforts were made to color correct the film, look at the second set of shots.  Well, results vary scene by scene, but in the above shot, I think the original DVD looks more natural.  Not that I'm saying the DVD is superior than the BD, but in terms of PQ at least, it's pretty much a dead tie, with all the little variances mostly just being arbitrary and minor enough viewers wouldn't notice anyway.

And the Dolby 2.0 audio is at least lossless DTS-HD on the blu, though it's still pretty raw, low-fi stuff.  They've also added optional English subtitles.  So we start to see the BD pull ahead now.
The real reasons to double-dip are the new extras.  Not that the DVD was lacking in this department.  There are two audio commentaries: one by Jeff and one by Kelly.  Both offer fascinating additional insights into these two characters, though Kelly's track has a lot of dead-air.  So that one's a bit of a chore, but there are moments that make it worth the struggle.  Then there's a collection of deleted scenes, which are often just as compelling as the rest of the film, and given its short running time (the film is just 61 minutes long), I'm surprised they cut most of this out.  There's a great chunk on Alyssa Milano, and a fascinating look at the man who sold Jeff his "radionic, psionic, psychotronic devices" he uses to tune into Tiffany's "resonant frequencies."  There's also a music video and the trailer.

Thankfully, the BD keeps all of that wonderful stuff, except for the trailer.  And there's new stuff.  There's a new director's commentary, which is pretty interesting and insightful.  There's a short animated featurette about the origins of the film.  And best of all, there are new updates interviewing both Jeff and Kelly about where they're at now in 2022 - there are some new twists for sure, and it's takes you even further along their emotional journeys.  Oh, and there's a new interview clip of Jeff explaining the surprising reason why he knows for certain how Natalie Wood was murdered.  The first 1000 copies also come in a limited edition slipcover.
So in the most direct way, the blu-ray is not an upgrade over the DVD, and could even be argued to be a slight downgrade.  You know, we're used to judging whether to replace a DVD with a BD based on picture quality, and in this column it rates a "no."  But factor in everything else and it's an absolute must double-dip.  The audio: meh, but sure.  The subtitles: handy, for some viewers more than others.  And the extras: essential.  It's like a little sequel.

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