VOD film review: Let’s Be Evil
Matthew Turner | On 28, Oct 2016
Director: Martin Owen
Cast: Elizabeth Morris, Kara Tointon
Watch Let’s Be Evil online in the UK: Prime Video (Buy/Rent) / Virgin Movies / eir Vision Movies / Rakuten TV / Google Play
Co-written and directed by Martin Owen, this low-budget British sci-fi thriller stars Elizabeth Morris (who also co-wrote the script) as Jenny, a young woman who accepts a mysterious job as a chaperone in something called The Posterity Project, in order to pay for her ailing mother’s expensive medical treatment. Squirrelled away in a top secret underground base, Jenny meets her two fellow chaperones, cheerful Tiggs (Kara Tointon, doing a pretty decent American accent) and surly Darby (Elliot James Langridge) and the trio are given pairs of virtual reality glasses that they have to wear at all times, followed by a guided tour from guide ARIAL (voiced by Natasha Moore).
The glasses transform their dark surroundings into a garishly lit facility, housing a number of super-advanced young children, who are engaged in advanced learning procedures via the use of augmented reality (meaning that they appear to be interacting with the air, which presumably saved on the props budget). However, it isn’t long before the kids start acting strangely and the technology goes haywire, leaving Jenny, Tiggs and Darby trapped underground and pursued by deadly forces.
The VR gimmick means that once Jenny enters the facility, the film switches to the characters’ point of view, with the name and photo of whoever’s glasses we’re looking out of constantly appearing in the top left hand side of the screen, as well as whatever graphics are required, such as tiny, Skype-like screens appearing when they try to contact each other. This is moderately effective as an idea (especially since they’re plunged into darkness if they take the glasses off), but the script never exploits the gimmick to its full potential.
Indeed, it’s fair to say that a lot of imagination has gone into the initial set-up and concept, particularly given the film’s obviously low budget – it’s just a shame that the same level of ingenuity doesn’t extend to the script. Morris and Tointon deliver likeable performances and there’s suitably creepy support from young Isabelle Allen as Cassandra (the film really likes its rather pointless Greek myth references), a disturbed child who latches onto Jenny, but Langridge is rather under-served as Darby, as we never find out why he’s so grumpy – you wonder why anyone thought he’d make a good child-minder in the first place.
The main problem is that the film doesn’t seem to know what it wants to say – there’s clearly some message in there somewhere about education and the dangers of living too much of your life online, but none of it is adequately conveyed. Similarly, once things start going wrong, the film quickly degenerates into generic running-down-corridors and crawling-around-ventilation-shafts material and quickly loses all sense of tension, as well as more or less abandoning its central premise.