There’s been a murder at a specialised, super-secret correctional facility that houses the most dangerous men in America. With a point to prove, FBI agent Griff Krenshaw (Speight Jr.) is sent to investigate but it’s clear from the outset there’s much more going on here than he realises. Firstly, the facility is doubling as a high tech research centre where scientists have identified a rare genetic defect: The Evil Gene. Secondly, there seems to be darker forces at work in the shadows, forces closer to Griff than he could possibly have imagined.
Sounds cheesy doesn’t it? Well, it is, and not a good way.
The premise at the heart of Kathryn F. Taylor’s debut feature is a decent, if familiar, one. Setting a horror film in a prison / hospital / research facility populated by all kinds of ne’er-do-wells presents a creepy and claustrophobic environment. Giving the film something of a supernatural frisson is also tried and tested, but the problems within The Evil Gene arise very quickly from the banal plotting. Twists that should add to the mystery are as readable as they are tiresome. There are also too many holes, too many convoluted contrivances that prevent the audience from engaging with the story on any level. Reveals, when they do come, will more likely be greeted with a derisory snort rather than a surprised gasp, as each thread plays out exactly as you would expect. And if you can’t see where Agent Krenshaw’s future lies, then you really aren’t paying enough attention – which given the film’s tentative pacing would likely be forgivable.
Locations are atmospheric if also limited, presumably due to budgetary constraints, which does give the film a feeling of being on a very small scale, when the central theme is considerably wider reaching.
The disappointing thing is that you really get the impression everyone involved is trying really, really hard. The effects, while understandably a little basic, are effective enough and the performances are pretty good, although the dialogue is a little too on the nose in places. Despite the issues the filmmakers should be applauded. The Evil Gene does have the odd creepy moment, and is effectively if basically put together. You just can’t help thinking that slightly more tempered ambition would have resulted in a more successful result.
THE EVIL GENE / CERT: TBC / DIRECTOR & SCREENPLAY: KATHRYN F. TAYLOR / STARRING: RICHARD SPEIGHT JR., CAMERON RICHARDSON, LINDSEY GINTER / RELEASE DATE: TBA