Reel Evil Review

The Film

Does the world need another found footage movie? Are we not all bored to tears with daring film-makers, camera wielding teens and earnest documentarians and the troubles they find? Is there any more to be mined from these variations on the misadventuring thriller?
Or is this now such a mainstay of modern horrors that all the viewer wants is a few more fictional artists to serve up their own demises for entertainment and not consider the repetition or the worn out meta meaning? Or do we not really care as long as there's enough thrills, exploitation and shaky-cam to occupy us for just over an hour? Well, Reel Evil hopes that the answer to the last question is yes.

Reel Evil is another outing from Charles Band's Full Moon Pictures which borrows heavily from the likes of REC, Blair Witch, and possibly the daddy of them all, Cannibal Holocaust. A young idealistic film crew, desperate for dosh, find themselves some easy money making a featurette for a pretty squalid hollywood movie being made at the old insane asylum. Once there, the bitchiness of the film crew and the dreadful welcome they receive prompt our young idealists to go wandering around the closed wards, cells and boiler rooms of the creepy hospital.
Of course, we, the viewer, are lucky that they decide to do this and to carry their cameras, sound equipment and lighting with them, only to discover that the hospital is not quite as deserted as it seems and that former British stand-up comedians, sans double-bass, may be on his way to operate. For someone who remembers Jim Tavare's musical cabaret from the alternative comedy circuit of the eighties and nineties, this is a peculiar delight in an otherwise rather predictable film.

Reel Evil is not badly made, although the acting is not always in the correct register and the dialogue is rather poor, switching character traits between the leads as the circumstance requires so that one moment Jessica Morris fearlessly searches the dark and the next she is a scaredy cat little girl. Naked flesh, gory experiments and plenty of jump scares serve up what you expect as well so that the entertainment quotient is complete.
So what you get is a competent low budget b-movie that won't change the world but will pass the time well enough.

The Disc

88 films' release came out in June, and it is a region free, seemingly NTSC encoded dual layer disc. The short film is accompanied by quite a number of extra features, including three featurettes ,one presented by Mr Band himself, teasers, music video, bloopers and deleted scenes, and a commentary from the director. Draven is decent company and is joined on the phone by the writer at one point, and celebrates his luck in finding the location and its real creepiness. Please note that the script is not included as a DVD-ROM extra as stated in the commentary.
Two of the featurettes are from some show led by a middle aged goth with a joy for horror based puns, the first involves on set footage and interviews with crew and cast and the second maxes out on the real-life location which has been used for Charmed and ER previously. The music video is shouty metal territory co-written with the director's wife.

Transfer-wise, there's little to be annoyed with. It is a NTSC transfer, unusually, and the movie seems to have been transferred well with a filmic look even if my guess is that it was DV shot. There is some edge enhancement and black levels are not perfect with exterior shots very contrasty but this is meant to look naturalistic and a little home made so I don't see the problem.

Sound comes in stereo and 5.1 mixes. Whilst the more elaborate mix does offer some more spookiness, sound design is not so clever that the 5.1 stands out greatly with the use of the separate channels. The elements of voices, effects and score are well mixed and mastered though and the only real let down is the sad omission of subtitles.


An entertaining if not ground-breaking film gets decent extras on a port of the US release.

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