Review: Reel Evil / Cert: 18 / Director: Danny Draven / Screenplay: Shane Bitterling / Starring: Jessica Morris, Kaiwi Lyman, Jeff Adler, Sandra Hinojosa / Release Date: Out Now
It's a bit of a shock seeing Full Moon Features, an indie production company that for so many years has been a bastion of comic booky, dayglo-hued '80s-style horror, having a stab at the found footage subgenre, especially at a time when the wheels have all but come off that particular bandwagon. But that's exactly what they've gone and done with Reel Evil. Ballsy move; let's just hope Full Moon don't lose their trousers over it.
As for the premise, well, we've been there and shaky-cammed that before. A trio of struggling documentary makers are hired to film a behind-the-scenes feature about a horror movie being shot in a notorious insane asylum. They turn up with their equipment at the vast, derelict building, but they soon forget about their day job and go off exploring. Naturally, this proves to be a mistake, as they draw the attention of various leering, hospital-garbed spectres haunting the place.
Among the ensuing shenanigans, there's undeniably a touch of the wandering-down-endless-corridors-jumping-at-shadows which has become a cliché of the subgenre, but, on the whole, Shane Bittering's script provides more structure and variety than we've come to expect from your standard found footage fare. The bitchiness and pettiness of the film shoot supplies some light relief, and there's plenty of decent banter between the central trio before things get serious. The performances are well-judged, too, with Hinojosa's turn as the diva-esque star of the film-within-the-film pitched slightly broader than everyone else's, and Robbie Savage-lookalike Lyman catching the eye as the laconic soundman who soon starts losing his bottle.
Director Danny Draven builds the chills smoothly and deploys some unexpectedly classy CGI, but the film's ace in the hole is its use of the real-life Linda Vista Community Hospital – a massive abandoned complex that is reputedly the most haunted structure in Los Angeles – as its primary location. The DVD comes with a nice set of extras in which the cast and crew all seem to have their tales to tell about how creepy it was shooting there. Reel Evil doesn't break any new ground, but if found footage is your thing, then this is a good addition to the genre.
Extras: Behind the Scenes of Reel Evil / Darkest Hours – The Reel Evil Set Visit Episode / Darkest America – An Inside Look at Linda Vista Hospital / Blooper Reel / Music Video / Promos / Deleted scenes