Reel Evil (Review)

What a solid way to end off a decent year for independent horror film. Yes, Reel Evil is one of the last films to be released before we all die at the end of the month. I’ve had an opportunity to view this feature-length “found footage” ghost story and I’m happy to share my positive review with you all.

Reel Evil is written by Shane Bitterling and directed by Danny Draven under Full Moon Entertainment. The film stars Jessica Morris (“One Life To Live”), Kaiwi Lyman (Mega Python vs. Gatoroid), Jeff Adler, Jim Tavare (Killjoy Goes To Hell), Sandra Hinojosa, and Michael Cline (Lip Service).

In Reel Evil, “Struggling filmmakers – Kennedy, Cory and James – finally catch the break they were looking for when they are hired to shoot a ‘behind-the-scenes’ documentary for a major studio production. But their dream job quickly turns into a nightmare when they explore the legendary, haunted location and find something far worse than anything Hollywood could create. Terror becomes reality for the filmmakers as they uncover the malevolent secrets of the hospital, and the sinister doctor who once ran it. Trapped inside the hospital with no apparent way out, our crew is tormented by the evil, unspeakable fear”

I know right off the bat people will say that Reel Evil is a knockoff of Grave Encounters. But let me tell you – Reel Evil stands on its own two feet for a variety of reasons. Firstly, the core group of main characters is much smaller than in Grave Encounters. Secondly, there is a whole movie production going on inside the haunted asylum, not just a camera crew locked inside. Also, Reel Evil relies more on mystery and suspense more than the shock-and-awe nature of Grave Encounters. In other words – Reel Evil is just like any other horror film, a new approach to an old concept; original in terms of development and character, but still sharing similarities to other films.

Ironically, there is something more frightening in the filming location other than the ghosts who haunt it. I’m talking about a little thing called ego. Reel Evil does a great job of portraying “big shots” in the film world and how unbearable they can be. This is why I’m going to stick with the indie horror film genre. Besides one guy on the set of a film I did this summer, I’ve never ran into an indie horror star who had as big an ego as the characters in this movie. They had the whole, “No one is allowed to look me in the eyes,” “I’m better than you,” thing going on. If I had to choose between being stuck in a haunted hospital with knife wielding doctors or having to work full-time on a Hollywood movie set, I may just have to pick the ghosts!

While I did thoroughly enjoy Reel Evil (I watched it twice in one day), it does have its flaws. The biggest flaw is that nothing really gets scary until about an hour into the movie. Don’t get me wrong, I loved the suspense and the weird happenings, but there wasn’t too much going on for the majority of the movie. The CGI ghost/effects needed a little more work too. They looked out-of-place, amateur – and Reel Evil is far from amateur! These two points coupled with only two likable characters in the whole movie leaves a little more to be desired.

Reel Evil is perfectly shot; great angles, awesome audio, and some really fun performances. I did mention that this is a “found footage” film, but let me tell you… I wish Danny Draven had directed Cloverfield because that film would have been so much better. I didn’t feel sea sick or nauseous from watching Reel Evil, a trait that sometimes comes along with “found footage” films like The Blair Witch Project and Cloverfield. So, many props go out to the director, director of photography, and the camera guys.

Reel Evil is currently shipping pre-orders, is available on DVD, and you can rent a copy at the end of the month from RedBox. I would recommend it, especially for those who need a good Christmas present for a friend who is a horror fan. I know it’s on my list!

Written by Michael DeFellipo

(Senior Editor)