Review: The Dry Land DVD

The Dry Land DVD boxSTUDIO: Maya Entertainment | DIRECTOR: Ryan Piers Williams | CAST: Ryan O’Nan, America Ferrera, Jason Ritter
RELEASE DATE: 11/9/2010 | PRICE: DVD $27.98, Blu-ray $29.88
BONUSES: commentary, resources
SPECS: R | 92 min. | Drama | 2.35:1 aspect ratio | audio | Spanish and French subtitles

RATINGS (out of 5 dishes): Movie | Audio | Video | Overall

With this DVD, Maya Entertainment is adding to the long line of movie’s exploring the plight of soldiers returning home after being at war, including the recent Brothers and older Born on the Fourth of July. As such, watching The Dry Land, you get the feeling that you’ve seen it all before.

The Dry Land movie sceneThe independent film follows soldier James (Ryan O’Nan) as he returns home from duty in Iraq and tries to reintegrate himself into his old life while dealing with post-traumatic stress. As he struggles with bad dreams and a job at the local slaughter house, James lashes out at those closest to him. To try to get ahold of his life, he goes on a road trip to visit two soldiers he served with, seeking answers about an incident that happened right before he left the war.

The film stars relatively unknown actors, but it does have a few names in smaller roles, including America Ferrera (TV’s Ugly Betty) as James’ wife and Jason Ritter (TV’s The Event) as James’ friend back home. They provide anchors to the movie, but their co-stars hold their own in the bigger parts.

The main problem with The Dry Land is a lack of depth. The story is a less dramatic version of Brothers, even down to the climax. That’s not to say The Dry Land doesn’t have drama, it does; its stakes are just not as high as other movies of this kind.

That said, The Dry Land is a perfectly serviceable film and will be enjoyed by those who can’t get enough about the hardships of life after war. Squeamish viewers might want to turn away at the slaughter house scene — what you see is not special effects, and I wonder how much it’s really needed.

The DVD doesn’t have much in the way of special features, but what it has is fitting for an independent film of this kind. First up is a text page showing resources where viewers can get more information about post-traumatic stress, an admirable inclusion.

Second is a commentary with first-time feature writer/director Ryan Piers Williams and Ferrera, who also executive produced the movie. Ferrera and Williams are reportedly friends from the University of Southern California, and that friendship comes through in the commentary. They are relaxed and comfortable chatting about the making of this film.


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About S. Clark

Sam Clark is the former Managing Editor/Online Editor of Video Business magazine. With 19 years experience in journalism, 12 in the home entertainment industry, Sam has been hooked on movies on since she saw E.T. then stared into the sky waiting to meet her own friendly alien. Thanks to her husband’s shared love of movies, Sam reviews Blu-ray discs in a true home theater, with a 118-inch screen, projector and cushy recliners with cup holders.