LET’S BE EVIL (2016)
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Flick is centered around the use of virtual reality to teach highly intelligent children to better prepare to be the leaders of the future. Three youths, Jenny (Elizabeth Morris), Tiggs (Kara Tointon) and Darby (Elliot James Langridge) are hired to be the caretakers of one such group in an experimental program in a secure location. Strange things start to happen and soon perky Jenny starts to believe the children around them are not so innocent. What exactly are they teaching these kids here and have they learned too much?
Co-written by star Morris along with director Martin Owen, this Village Of The Damned for the virtual reality world has a distinct 80s vibe despite the advanced technology. It also starts out rather low key and then slowly builds tension as things start to get weird. It’s the last act that takes one by surprise, as the filmmakers suddenly crank things up with some intensity and a few vicious moments that you’re not expecting, since the rest of the film operated on a more moderate level. That’s what gave this thriller a little needed punch, as initially it just seemed like another routine cyber/bad seed thriller. Owen delivers some creepy and suspenseful moments as our three councilors realize they are trapped in this cyber prison with some very intelligent and sadistic kids. There are some surprisingly violent scenes to add to the effect and Owen does maintain some solid atmosphere once things get going after the misleading slow start. The are some flaws here, too. Problem with our villains is that we only really get to know one of them, an outcast named Cassandra (Isabelle Allen) who the sinister group seems to have rejected. This keeps them from having any sort of a personality other than a collective of evil presences out to get Jenny, Tiggs and Darby, we assume for their own amusement. Also, the last act reveal wasn’t really a surprise, you see it coming a mile away, but it still worked well enough to give chills. Otherwise, on a production level, the film looks like a modestly budgeted flick, which is fine and there is a very 80s-ish electronic score by Julian Scherle to add atmosphere.
The cast is small with pretty Elizabeth Morris being a solid girl-next-door heroine. She comes across as a sweet, caring girl and appears legitimately frightened when things start to go awry. We like her and therefor care when she is in danger. Morris gives her a nice personality. Kara Tointon is also likable as the spunky Tiggs and gives her character some feistiness and sexiness to contrast the more demure Jenny. Langridge plays Darby as the cynical slacker type. He is the group’s doubter when Jenny thinks something’s wrong and is effective enough in the part. Rounding out our leads, is young Isabelle Allen as Cassandra, who the cyber-brats seem to have cast out. She is good in the part and we sympathize with her as the frightened child, though we have seen enough movies to not completely trust her. There is also an artificial intelligence named Arial who is the group’s guide and is voiced by Natasha Moore with Jamie Bernadette representing her cyber-body.
Overall, this was an entertaining enough little cyber-horror. Sure we have seen computer themed flicks like this often as we have the evil children scenario, but the mash-up does work thanks to a very effective last act. The film starts out with a moderate tone and then catches us off-guard with a very intense and surprisingly violent last half hour. A decent thriller from director Owens and co-writer/star Morris.
3 laptops, although there aren’t any in the movie. Sometimes you work with what you got.