When Evil Reigns
By: Devon B. on September 11, 2006  |  Comments ()  |  Bookmark and Share
Directors: Luke C Jackson, Alix Jackson
Starring: Alix Jackson, Ceara Nelson, Ian Seymour, Tim Clark, Emma Jackson, Tanya Stuart
Screenplay: Luke C Jackson, Alix Jackson
Duration: 92 minutes
Country: Australia
Year: 2006
When Evil Reigns is a new film from Melbourne based indie film makers Alix and Luke Jackson, who were heavily involved in many areas of the film's production, including acting. The film was shot on mini-DV and took six years to complete.

When Evil Reigns opens a bit chaotically. Two runners get into an argument as it starts to rain, and the argument gets physically violent. A Good Samaritan biker intervenes, but the male runner goes after her. Instead of phoning the police, she goes home and gets her partner. He also doesn't phone the police, but instead goes to confront the assailant. Fortunately, the assailant is still there, along with the corpse of the other runner (I'm guessing the biker lady lived close by?), but things don't go so well for the Good Samaritan.

Despite being a bit jumpy, this intro held quite a lot of promise. Unfortunately, from there the film takes us to a Uni campus, and introduces most of our main players. The film settles in to a much slower pace, as we see some silly Uni stuff that is ultimately not very important. Eventually the rain returns, and evil possesses those caught out in it. The possessed trap some students and staff inside the university. Being locked in while waiting to be attacked by possessed people, a common theme for first time horror directors…

When I first put When Evil Reigns on, I was dismayed to find it was a 92 minute shot on video movie, because a feature length run time for these low budget efforts usually equals padding, and lots of it. While I'm not sure I'd say When Evil Reigns is padded, there are certainly elaborate, ponderous set ups that allow the viewer to get ahead of the movie plot wise. There's also a lot of chit-chat, which causes a different problem, since some of the dialogue can be tough to understand due to audio issues (which hopefully will be fixed for the official DVD release). With the general pacing off, the film is way too slow. That's too bad, because it's a pretty good idea, and a strong feature length film could've been made of it.

The editing is surprisingly competent within a scene (bar the action heavy opening), except for the standard low budget problems of unconvincing fight scenes. I was pleased that in terms of editing, I could always tell what was going on, which doesn't always happen in these low budget films. It's too bad entire sections of the film could've been edited out, but at least what was there remained coherent. The editing is also restrained, not the flashy "Look how cool and innovative I am" jumbled mess a lot of burgeoning filmmakers use, but there are a few cool style tricks used.

The possessed are sort of like cannibalistic versions of the infected from 28 Days Later; and The Thing (1982) and Bill Shattner's best work, The Devil's Rain, were possible sources of inspiration. Unfortunately, with a killer in rain gear prominent towards the end, the film also echoes the I Know What You Did Last Summer series. Most of the time the possessed in When Evil Reigns do a decent job, up until the end when all of the sudden they all just stand around waiting to be dispatched.

The film was made for $5,000, and the acting isn't bad, especially with that budget in mind. The film does have a few good gags, and I really like the idea of rain = death and mayhem for a country that always seems to be in drought. I think there's room here for a remake, or a sequel, and hopefully once the Jackson's have honed their skills, we'll get a tighter, engaging, indie horror flick from them.
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