DC Showcase – Constantine: The House of Mystery
Studios: Warner Bros. Animation, Warner Bros. Home Entertainment
Release Dates: Blu-ray, Digital – May 3, 2022
Press Release: Click here
Description: Warner Bros. Animation continues to glean beloved characters from DC’s robust library for the popular DC Showcase line of animated shorts, this time opting to elevate Constantine, Kamandi, The Losers, and Blue Beetle in the 2021-2022 compilation release, DC Showcase – Constantine: The House of Mystery.
Matt Ryan (Constantine, DC’s Legends of Tomorrow) reprises his live-action and animated role as the Hellblazer himself in Constantine: The House of Mystery. In the all-new short, John Constantine wakes up in the eerie House of Mystery with no recollection of how he got there. Fortunately, Zatanna and his friends are all there. Unfortunately, they have a bad habit of turning into demons and ripping him to shreds, over and over again! Camilla Luddington (Grey’s Anatomy) and Ray Chase (Licorice Pizza) reprise their roles from Justice League Dark: Apokolips War as Zatanna and Jason Blood/Etrigan, respectively, while Robin Atkin Downes (The Strain) and Damian O’Hare (Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl) reprise their roles from Constantine: City of Demons as Negral and Chas, respectively. In addition, Grey Griffin (Scooby-Doo franchise) and Lou Diamond Phillips (La Bamba, Longmire, Young Guns) join the cast of the short, which is directed by Matt Peters (Injustice) from a script by Ernie Altbacker (Batman: Hush).
Produced by Warner Bros. Animation, DC and Warner Bros. Home Entertainment, and inspired by characters and stories from the iconic DC Universe, the all-new quartet of DC Showcase shorts are produced by Rick Morales (Mortal Kombat Legends franchise, Injustice). Jim Krieg is producer, and Sam Register is executive producer.
While Kamandi: The Last Boy on Earth!, The Losers and Blue Beetle have all appeared as enhanced content on past DC Universe Movies, the extended-length Constantine – The House of Mystery makes its public debut as the anchor for this dynamic shorts compilation.
DC Showcase – Constantine: The House of Mystery Home Media Special Features
Blu-ray and Digital
DC Showcase: One Story at a Time (New Featurette) – Since the 1993 debut of Batman: Mask of the Phantasm, Warner Bros. Animation has revolutionized and mastered the feature film world with their critically successful DC Universe Movies and DC Animated Movies. In 2010, the creative team hit upon the idea of presenting some of the more under-utilized DC characters in shorter stories – and thus, the DC Showcase was born. The shorts program has provided a fertile venue for creators and animators to explore the vast array of DC’s diverse heroes, worlds and universes, and gives audiences a taste of their infinite possibilities. Featuring some big names as well as the deeper cuts, these short films reflect different styles and sensibilities, and are inspired by renown creators like Jack Kirby, Steve Ditko and Alan Moore. This documentary takes a look at the roots of DC Showcase – from Catwoman and Sgt. Rock to Death and Superman/Shazam: The Return of Black Adam, as well as the current quartet of shorts. Included are interviews with producer Rick Morales and directors Matt Peters & Milo Neuman as they explore the featured heroes and villains, the comics that inspired them, and these adventures’ place in the bigger picture of the DC animated universe.
By James Harvey
The Hellblazer finds himself fighting for his life over, and over, and over, and over again in the gripping Constantine: The House of Mystery, the anchor title of Warner Bros. Home Entertainment’s third collection of the acclaimed DC Showcase animated shorts line. Along with shorts based on Kamandi, Blue Beetle and The Losers, Warner Bros. digs deep and pulls out a diverse selection of characters, and while the quality varies, each are still respectively solid offerings. Legitimately engrossing and packed full of fun surprises and twists, with Constantine: The House of Mystery itself packing one heckuvan ending, Warner Bros. Animation has again put together another great batch of animated shorts based on some of DC Comics’ best (and, perhaps, most obscure) characters.
Constantine: The House of Mystery finds John Constantine waking up in said mysterious domicile, along with Zatanna and his friends, with no recollection of how he got there. However, once Constantine’s friends start turning into demons and killing him, over and over, the Hellblazer realizes that something isn’t quite right, nor are things going to end the way he expects. And that tense thriller kicks off the latest DC Showcase collection, which also includes a 1960s Spider-Man-spin on Blue Beetle, a Jack Kirby-inspired Kamandi: The Last Boy on Earth! adventure, and a deadly mission in The Losers.
As usual, spoilers will be as light as possible.
Gripping right up to its shocking finale, Constantine: The House of Mystery follows the famed magician as he searches to discover the truth behind his incarceration in said devious mansion. He soon discovers his hellish trap are tied to the events of Justice League Dark: Apokolips War, and that’s just the start of things. To say any more than that would ruin some of the film’s biggest surprises. That said, overall, it’s a fantastic, twisted and occasionally quite funny little mystery. The short’s quick pace really helps to create a sense of urgency, helped by the frequent twists and surprises, lasting right up to the film’s final seconds. It’s a great ride, start to finish.
Running for over 26 minutes, Constantine: The House of mystery is the longest animated short in this DC Showcase collection, and our titular protagonist carries nearly the whole tale solo. Matt Ryan does some of his best work with the character here, at least in terms of his animated appearances, as he’s clearly game for the emotional wringer Constantine endures. His performance in the final few moments of the short are particularly bone-chilling. And yes, since this is a story inspired by DC’s classic The House of Mystery comic series, things don’t go exactly as the Hellblazer hopes.
That being said, to quickly touch on the short’s finale (while keeping details as vague as possible), it can be read a couple different ways. In one way, it does act as it’s own solid wrap with that typical House of Mystery twist fans of the comic likely remember. Another way, however, is that the finale could be read as a hint toward something bigger on the horizon.
So much about Constantine: The House of Mystery clicks just right. The slick directing by Matt Peters, the legitimately engaging story by Ernie Altbacker, the fantastic score by Robert Kral, and even the film’s surprising animated style … or, more accurately, styles. As we learn more about the secrets of how Constantine ended up his current predicament, we’re privy to a flashback or two which uses an animation style which fans of the DC Universe Movie series will find very familiar (and will undoubtedly spark conversation). Animation quality overall is good, save for the odd rickety bit here or there.
Constantine isn’t the only DC Comics character who endures some pretty heavy stuff on this third DC Showcase compilation title. The other shorts on this release include Kamandi: The Last Boy on Earth!, Blue Beetle and The Losers, and reviews for each can be found here, here and here, respectively.
Arguably the strongest short in an already impressive collection, Constantine: The House of Mystery is a tense tale packed with legitimate surprises and more than a few shocks, and it nicely anchors this fine DC Comics-based title from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment. Arriving both on Blu-ray and Digital, this release includes all four installments from the third wave of DC Showcase animated shorts along with a bonus featurette covering the production of each.
Starting with said special feature, “DC Showcase: One Story at a Time” runs roughly 16 minutes and features the creators behind Constantine: The House of Mystery, Kamandi: The Last Boy on Earth!, Blue Beetle and The Losers chatting about their respective works here in this collection along with some brief comments on the animated shorts line as a whole. And while it’s a nice look at the third wave of DC Showcase shorts, previous installments in the line are unfortunately not comparatively discussed in-depth. Still, what we get here is pretty great and there are more than a few nifty nuggets (particularly about Blue Beetle) shared from the talented crew.
Outside of the featurette, the only additional extras on this release are some trailers and a digital copy of Constantine: The House of Mystery. Bonus content is light, true, but at least what’s included in the package is worth watching and nicely compliments the main show.
In terms of the release’s audio and video quality, it’s a pretty good overall presentation. Outside of occasional artifacting and some macroblocking, it’s a fine looking transfer, with any blemishes barely a noticeable blip. The audio is just as good, if not better, with every word of dialogue and beat of action coming through crystal clear and no issues whatsoever.
DC Showcase – Constantine: The House of Mystery collects another batch of fun DC Showcase animated shorts, led by the Hellblazer himself in the title feature. The variety of animated content on display here is particularly note-worthy, with each short is as unique as the next and usually just as enjoyable (again, check the links above in the review for a closer look at each). While the light amount of bonus content is somewhat disappointing, what we get nicely rounds out the collection. Besides, the big draw should be the main feature here (ie: the animated shorts), and this release does not disappoint. Anchored by a thrilling mystery, DC Showcase – Constantine: The House of Mystery is another top-shelf production which comes Highly Recommended, though casual or new fans may want to consider a rental first.
Warner Bros. Home Entertainment provided The World’s Finest with a Blu-ray copy of DC Showcase – Constantine: The House of Mystery for the purpose of this review, though that had no impact on the product’s final assessment.