Reel Evil (2012) DVD Review

 

REEL EVIL (2012)
Dir. Danny Draven         77 mins
88 Films / Full Moon
UK Release: 3rd June 2013

Allow me, if you will, to forego any impartiality for a short period and just rave about how amazing it is to have access in the UK to the latest Full Moon releases courtesy of 88 Films. Not only that – but ‘Reel Evil’ was available to purchase in one of the UK’s largest supermarket chains. This may not seem particularly interesting nor exciting, but to me – the archetypal Full Moon fanatic, this is a very big deal. In the years since Full Moon’s break from Paramount, we UK fans have had it hard. Who can forget the dark days of having Film 2000 as a distributor, frequently misspelling words on the sleeves and once crediting Dave Allen for some FX work on a film even though he’d been dead a number of years.  Anyway, now with 88 Films organising things, we can well and truly bow down and worship at their temple.

All of this fawning preamble takes us to ‘Reel Evil’, Full Moon’s first foray into the crowded, and some might say tired found footage genre. At the helm is Danny Draven, who perhaps is best known for his editing skills at Full Moon, but he’s also made some great movies from the director’s chair – ‘Hell Asylum’, ‘Darkwalker’, and a favourite of mine ‘Horrorvision’. ‘Reel Evil’ begins in a parking lot in Downtown L.A, where we’re introduced to three struggling filmmakers, Kennedy (Jessica Morris), Cory (Kaiwi Lyman) and James (Jeff Adler) who are about to visit a big shot Hollywood producer (Michael Cline) and begin work as a behind the scenes documentary crew. This new direction has been instigated by Kennedy, and has left the other two feeling a little miffed and worried at how this might impact their own careers.

The movie they are working on is on location at a legendary haunted Hollywood location – a former asylum no less. Upon their arrival at this imposing building they’re met by a Crazy Ralph-esque weirdo saying “you’re all doomed”. Well, he doesn’t actually say that, but the teddy bear he’s carrying may well have done. They meet Alec (Christian Edsall), the director straight away who appears to be operating in a pretty dictatorial manner – “nobody is allowed to look me in the eye” he screams. Alec is not the only one who pushes the behind the scenes crew away, as shortly after they meet Tricia (Sandra Hinojosa) the lead actress who wants no part in the documentary as it’s not in her contract. Feeling a little isolated, the behind the scenes crew probe deeper and deeper into the asylum, but the longer they explore the more apparent it becomes that the film set harbors more intriguing secrets the further away they go from the divas and dictators.

Running a video store, I tend to get the impression the people are growing weary of the found footage genre, if only due to the market being flooded with mediocrity these last few years. There is though still the odd gem to be found – the ‘Grave Encounters’ films, ‘REC’ and ‘V/H/S’ off the top of my head. While ‘Reel Evil’ may not match those, it still has a lot to offer indeed thanks predominantly to the excellent casting of Jessica Morris and the way her role is written as a sharp contrast to the cliché of the dim-witted busty female lead.

Morris brings balls to the role of Kennedy, and along with Lyman and Adler as Cory and James, we have three lead characters that are likeable and that we hope survive to the end of the film. The key factor for me to liking any horror movie is the ability to root for someone. It brings an emotional connection to the screen and enhances your enjoyment of the film immeasurably. I thought the look of the film was really impressive, and have a slight disappointment at no blu-ray release. For a film shot in six days though, it seems to have dealt with this restriction effectively and it comes across as a genuinely creepy film, unsettling at times with an excellent array of disturbing ghosts gracing the screen during its running time.

7 out of 10

DVD Extras:
•        Darkest Hours Set Visit: (20:00)
•        Videozone (20:00)
The excellent Videozone is back ! We have the usual intro from Charlie Band and a little behind the scenes look at ‘Reel Evil’ – the most staggering bit of which was the appearance of the actor playing Dr. Klein –  Jim Tavare no less, the famous British double bass themed stand-up, once thought to be Prince Charles’ favourite comedian.
•        Darkest America – an inside look at Linda Vista Hospital (10:00)
•        Blooper Reel (2:30)
•        Music Video (3:43) “I Want To” by TBD
•        2 Original Promos
•        Deleted Scenes (5:00)
•        Trailer Park featuring 10 Full Moon trailers
•        Directors Commentary

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