Reel Evil (2012)

I’m yelling! I’m yelling very loudly and at the same time as everyone else thus creating the facade that there is conflict in a boring movie! I am angry for some reason! I am lost in a labyrinth of an abandoned insane asylum and am yelling louder for some reason! Watch me yell some more proving there is conflict where there is none! Loud noises! My temper is inexplicably short! It is very scary when people are lost in dark halls for almost eighty minutes only to hear the occasional whisper and no pay off!

“Reel Evil” is the Full Moon Entertainment version of “Grave Encounters.” And it’s a found footage film meant to be taken as a found footage film that you can obviously see isn’t. It’s just too polished. It’s hard to believe a motion picture in the box office can resemble camera footage, while “Reel Evil” directed on a tight budget is much too glossy to be taken as anything other than a staged series of scenarios insistent on being pegged as a found footage horror film for the popular sub-genre. Everyone is either too obvious to be taken seriously as yokels, or too stilted. The actors on the set of the film deliver their lines with over the top groans and very halting line delivery, all the while our trio of filmmakers are much too tailored to be bought as struggling and starving artists. I mean these people must model on the side when they’re not trying to get their films made.

Kaiwi Lyman as the “struggling” grip Cory, and Jeff Adler as camera man James look like they’re more suited for the hunky roles in a horror film, while aspiring filmmaker (and final girl, lovely Jessica Morris) Kennedy is much too gorgeous to even be slightly bought as a wannabe director. Not to chastise any of these actors for being attractive, but getting in to character would have been a step up. I mean these people arrive on the movie with perfect hair and seamless clean clothing, and there’s never the hint that they’re living day by day for their art form. I also never understood why these struggling filmmakers would have the capability of setting up a paranormal investigation with the limited camera equipment they have for this project they’re forced to take for money.

I mean if it’s this easy to run around with the equipment willy nilly, why not take it all and film your own stuff on the side while making this documentary? And if they’re so anxious to create art throughout the film, why resort to gimmickry as paranormal investigations? What major Hollywood studio films an actual series of short scenes for a drama in an abandoned insane asylum? Most of all without security, entourages, or press to take record? Was the film too low budget to shoot on a sound stage? The monsters of the film for the most part, look fantastic. Make up artist Tom Devlin creates some fine demonic entities, all of whom have their own personas and look absolutely terrifying. It’s just a shame we see very little of them. They spend most of the film hiding in the shadows and obscured behind the doors, and for some odd reason spend their time walking in front of a propped up camera screaming and disappearing. Do they want to be seen or don’t they?

The deaths and gore are mainly reserved for off-screen, so hopes of at least splatter are dashed. One character is pulled in to a room off camera as we hear him being mutilated, and two characters having sex in a morgue are stalked by an undead doctor with a knife only for them to cut to the next scene. Minutes later they’re found dissected on tables. There is absolutely no pay off in the film that could leave us wanting more or at least whet our appetites for elaboration on the premise. It merely ends with police raiding the morgue with guns pointed as they look down at two mutilated bodies gasping and asking “What happened here?” I think they were murdered, Poirot. What a bummer. The special effects and make up from Tom Devlin is fantastic and eye catching while his demonic trio of ghosts are utterly terrifying. In a solid horror film, they’d have been amazing villains, but here they’re wasted on what is an effort to strike found footage lightning in vain. It’s a shame there’s almost ninety minutes and nothing to show for it except a great special effects reel.

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