If Paul Thomas Anderson (Boogie Nights, Magnolia) ever chooses to make a horror film, we can expect that it would be truly terrifying, since he’s managed to make a historical epic of the American oil industry (based on an Upton Sinclair novel) into a thing of such dread and menace as to rival those nightmares from which one wakes feeling tremendous relief that it was but a dream. Aided by a stupendous performance of ambition and greed by Daniel Day-Lewis as oilman Daniel Plainview (for which he deservedly won the Best Actor Oscar) and Paul Dano (Little Miss Sunshine) as an equally ambitious preacher, Anderson’s There Will Be Blood is saved from being hopelessly repellent by the addition of Dillon Freasier as Plainview’s adopted son, and captivates because we are allowed to observe and draw our own conclusions (so rare in American filmmaking) almost as if we were watching this tale unfold firsthand—with periods of little dialogue and only the well-used, but sparse score of Radiohead’s Jonny Greenwood to keep us company. The Collector’s Edition 2-Disc DVD package is woefully short on special features and although the included 1923 silent film The Story of Petroleum gives an education on the industry and the similarly silent 15 Minutes features photographs providing insight into the filmmakers’ attention to historical detail, with no director’s commentary (it’s been said that Anderson dislikes having them quoted back to him) the included teaser trailer, sadly, is the only thing that gives any real insight into the director’s true purpose.
Paramount, 158 minutes
Release date: April 8