DC Animation has been consistently releasing an impressive array of new movies and shorts over the last 10-plus years. Starring many of their biggest hitters like Wonder Woman, Superman and Batman, DC Animation have consciously factored in their lesser-known characters too, using this medium as fertile ground to expand their reach and bring into the mainstream some of their most popular comic book characters. ‘Constantine – The House of Mystery’ is the latest short from the DC Showcase stable to make it to home entertainment platforms and comes as part of a release that features some additional DC shorts.
Matt Ryan, who plays the live action ‘Constantine’ from his self-titled show and ‘Legends of Tomorrow’, once again reprises his role as the Hellblazer John Constantine. In this all-new short that takes place directly after the cataclysmic events of ‘Justice League Dark: Apokolips War’, John Constantine wakes up in an eerie House of Mystery, with a hazy memory of how he even got there. Some familiar faces from his past and present are there to greet him – but as Constantine soon learns, their presence is altogether nefarious and has him reliving his nightmares as penance for saving the world.
Starting off with a fun live-action segment that’s a POV of someone walking into a comic book shop and looking down the aisles before coming across a comic rack with a copy of ‘House of Mystery’ highlighted, we then get transported straight into the animation. We join the story straight after the finale of ‘Justice League Dark: Apokolips War’. No spoilers if you haven’t seen that yet, but that was one of the best DC Animated movies of the past few years and this short acts as a nice addendum to that story. But don’t worry if you’ve not seen that, as this short fills in a few crucial key questions for the uninitiated viewer.
Camilla Luddington (from ‘Grey’s Anatomy’) and Ray Chase (last seen in the Oscar nominated ‘Licorice Pizza’) reprise their roles from ‘Justice League Dark: Apokolips War’ as Zatanna and Jason Blood/Etrigan. Robin Atkin Downes (‘The Strain’) and Damian O’Hare (‘Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl’) return to their roles from ‘Constantine: City of Demons’ as Negral and Chas. Seasoned voice talent Grey Griffin and screen legend Lou Diamond Phillips (‘Young Guns’) join the cast of the short too, with Phillips playing fan-favourite character The Spectre, who is a great addition to this story.
This is a DC Showcase short, so it’s just under half an hour in length. So to beef things up, also included on the disc are the animated shorts collection, which are made up of ‘Kamandi: The Last Boy on Earth!’ which was initially released as a bonus feature on ‘Justice Society: World War II’. The legendary rag-tag team of World War II outcasts – Captain Storm, Johnny Cloud, “Mile-a-Minute” Jones, rookie Gunner and Sarge – ‘The Losers’, are next up on the disc extras. This was initially included as a bonus feature on ‘Batman: The Long Halloween – Part One’. Silver Age ‘Blue Beetle’ is back in the final short of this ‘Constantine – The House of Mystery’ home entertainment release. This had previously been released as part of the ‘Batman: The Long Halloween – Part Two’ release from earlier this year.
If you’re a huge DC Animation fan then this is a must-own. There’s not much else for the casual viewer, it must be said, but this is a good opportunity to get all of the recent DC Showcase shorts together in one collection. Constantine fans will benefit most from this release, but being such a short animation at only 27mins long, you might need to weigh up if it’s worth buying outright if the other shorts don’t particularly interest you. A better choice would have been to include all of the DC shorts from the last 10 years to make the set stand on its own merits. As for ‘Constantine – The House of Mystery’ itself, it’s an entertaining tale with tinges of horror that could have been worked into a much longer-form film, if some of the themes were explored further.
Cast: Matt Ryan, Ray Chase, Robin Atkin Downes, Grey Griffin, Camilla Luddington, Damian O’Hare, Lou Diamond Phillips Director: Matt Peters Writer: Ernie Altbacker Certificate: 15 Duration: 27 mins Released by: Warner Bros Release date: 3rd May 2021