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directed by Danny Draven
USA 2012

 

Documentary film crew Kennedy (Jessica Morris, THE DEAD WANT WOMEN), cameraman James (Jeff Adler), and sound recordist Cory (Kaiwi Lyman, TRESPASSERS) arrive at the long abandoned Longfellow Mental Institution not to become victims of a "found footage" exploration of stigmatized property, but to shoot behind-the-scenes footage of producer Dirk Bailey's (Michael Cline, DREAMGIRLS) psychological drama. They nevertheless set themselves up to be slaughtered when they decide to explore the building's catacombs and closed off wings rather than deal with the film's pretentious director (Christian Edsall) - who has a "manifesto" a la Marcus Nispel - and diva star Tricia (Sandra Hinojosa) who pulls a Christian Bale when the documentarians pass within her eyeline. The usual strange noises, slamming doors, and flipped over tables inspire the trio not to get the hell out of there, but to set up night vision cameras to catchy any "paranormal activity" for their very own documentary (ostensibly on "mental health in America"), but they and various horny cast and crew members find themselves lost when - as such buildings are wont to do in the sub-genre - the building becomes an inescapable labyrinth populated by the souls of mad doctors, child killers, and rapists cannibals.

REEL EVIL belongs to the "found footage" sub-genre dealing with visits to abandoned mental hospitals including GRAVE ENCOUNTERS and the lesser PARANORMAL INCIDENT (and their even lesser sequels) as well as the more recent and well-made GREYSTONE PARK; although this is the first time Charles Band's Full Moon has tackled the approach (as with the PARANORMAL ACTIVITY films, REEL EVIL moves the opening Full Moon logo to the end and starts right away). It's well-made by director Danny Draven - a regular editor, special featuers producer, and occasional director (HELL ASYLUM) on Band's projects - with likable leads (although the characterization is paper-thin as expected); but the plotting is fairly by-the-numbers even for this genre. There's the slightest hint of medical misdeads and mention of a couple inmates, but no real backstory to inspire dread and far more set-up than payoff. Draven can be commended for not throwing in flashfowards to characters' impending fates early on to assure impatient viewers that something will eventually happen; and the visual effects are modest but better designed and rendered than in similar product from The Asylum and the many indie one-offs. There isn't much gore, but there is some titillating toplessness (mammaries that not only jiggle but spin!). The ultimate problem isn't that the film is formulaic or bad, it just leaves the viewer - especially the dedicated Full Moon fan - wishing for a more ambitious effort in an overfamiliar sub-genre from a seasoned and enduring horror/fantasy studio.

Eric Cotenas

Poster

Theatrical Release: 4 December 2012 (USA)

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DVD Review: 88 Films - Region 0 - NTSC

Big thanks to Eric Cotenas for the Review!

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Distribution

88 Films

Region 0 - NTSC

Runtime 1:17:42
Video

1.78:1 Original Aspect Ratio

16X9 enhanced
Average Bitrate: 6.15 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Bitrate

Audio English Dolby Digital 5.1; English Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo
Subtitles none
Features Release Information:
Studio: 88 Films

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen anamorphic - 1.78:1

Edition Details:
• Audio Commentary by director Danny Draven
• Behind the Scenes of 'Reel Evil' (16:9; 19:41)
• Darkest Hours: The 'Reel Evil' Set Visit Episode (16:9; 20:56)
• Darkest America: A Look Inside the Linda Vista Hospital (16:9; 10:36)
• Blooper Reel (16:9; 2:33)
• Music Video (16:9; 3:42)
• Original 'Reel Evil' Promos:
• - Promo 1 (16:9; 0:32)
• - Promo 2 (16:9; 1:34)
• Deleted Scenes:
• - Missing Reel 001: Cory's Tape X (1:32)
• - Missing Reel 002: Extended Meeting Scene (3:18)
• - Missing Reel 003: Celebrate (0:29)
• Trailers: 'Castle Freak', 'Puppet Master', 'Tourist Trap', 'Zombies vs Strippers', 'Puppet Master II
• 'Creepozoids', 'The Dead Want Women', 'Puppet Master III', 'Subspecies', and 'Puppet Master X'

DVD Release Date: 3 June 2013
Amaray

Chapters 12

 

Comments

This dual-layer DVD is a first for UK label 88 Films in that it is a Region 0 NTSC disc instead of PAL, so it may be even more accessible to stateside fans (that is, if it has anything extra that isn't on the US release [B009DA73IK] that came out back in January). On both sides of the pond, this seems to be a DVD-only title for now; although the film's closing credits cite director Danny Draven as being responsible for Blu-ray authoring (presumably a cancelled or postponed US edition). Given the "found footage" style which includes the simulation of different camera types and resolutions - not to mention simulated night vision and various supernatural distortions (the included blooper reel reveals what most of the shots look like without post-processing - the inconsistent image is probably as good as it can be in SD. 5.1 audio is appropriately gimmicky here with offscreen sounds, half-heard voices, as well as some rare interjections of musical accompaniment (a 2.0 stereo downmix is also included).

On the commentary track, director Draven talks about the six-day shoot, the locations, and points out some misfires (like the fact that the viewer is probably more focused on the bare breasts of a background actress than actress Sandra Hinojosa in the foreground doing her "Christian Bale" diatribe). Of course, there is some publicity-friendly intimations about how he and the cast and crew experienced strange things in the creepy location (Draven's EVP session is apparently up on YouTube), which is expounded upon in the making-of segment, which is notable for being the second of Full Moon's resurrected VideoZone behind the scenes documentaries (the featurette also includes a spotlight segment on the film's effects artist). The featurette "Darkest America" also includes more on the actual history of the location (the Linda Vista Hospital" which has also played host to the horror films ROOM 6 and DAY OF THE DEAD 2 as well as the forthcoming INSIDIOUS 2) including the toll taken on the hospital by diminishing funding and increasing lawsuits about unexplained deaths (more likely exaggerated by the featurette's host). The "Darkest Hours" show set visit to the location includes additional input from writer Shane Bitterling, production designer Billy Jett, the make-up artists, and actors.

Horndogs will want to check out the deleted scenes since they feature an alternate version of the camcorded sex scene with some full frontal nudity (the actress wears a thong in the feature version). The music video for the song "I Want To" by TBD features some shots of some more visually interesting places in the hospital that are not exploited in the feature. The trailer that has appeared on other releases is filed under a promos sub-menu along with a shorter teaser. The package is rounded out by the usual "Full Moon Trailer Park" selection of ten current and forthcoming DVD/Blu-ray titles.

  - Eric Cotenas

 


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Distribution

88 Films

Region 0 - NTSC

 




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