02nd Feb2017

Review Round-Up: ‘Let’s Be Evil’ & ‘War on Everyone’

by Phil Wheat

LET’S BE EVIL

Stars: Elizabeth Morris, Kara Tointon, Elliot James Langridge, Isabelle Allen, Jamie Bernadette, Brooke Johnston, Martin Owen, Helene Wilson, Paul Casar, Jonathan Willis, Billie Wilson, Aimee Wright | Written by Elizabeth Morris, Martin Owen, Jonathan Willis | Directed by Martin Owen

Lets-be-Evil-image

Desperately in need of money to care for a sick parent, Jenny (Morris) takes a job supervising children at a learning centre for gifted students. But when she and two other new employees are ushered into a maximum-security underground bunker where eerily robotic children are outfitted with augmented reality glasses, Jenny finds herself thrust into a disturbing technological experiment in which she is an unwitting player in a terrifying virtual game.

Techno-horror is a genre that, given my previous experiences with films of this nature, is really hard to get right. The reliance on the technology within, techno-babble et al. can, and often does, overwhelm the story the filmmakers are trying to tell.

However, for the most part, none of that applies to Let’s Be Evil

Let’s Be Evil is a film that uses it’s technological aspects to confuse, bewilder and scare in ways that others of this ilk do not. Throw in some oddly-behaving kids (we all know ahat that means right?), a trio of main characters don’t conform to typical horror character tropes, a constant air of fear/dredd and a killer soundtrack, and you have a horror movie that hits all the right notes. That is until the film falls apart in its final third, succumbing to typical horror cliches and eventually getting trapped in its own obfuscation.

Let’s Be Evil is out now on DVD from Signature Entertainment.

WAR ON EVERYONE

Stars: Alexander Skarsgård, Michael Peña, Tessa Thompson, Theo James, Caleb Landry Jones | Written and Directed by John Michael McDonagh

war-everyone

War on Everyone is the latest film from writer/director John Michael McDonagh (The Guard, Calvary); and follows frustrated Albuquerque cops Terry (Skarsgård) and Bob (Peña) as they attempt to take the law into their own hands.

When the rogue duo discover a group of shady individuals are gathering in town for a big heist, they decide to keep the information from their under-pressure police chief and work the case for their own benefit. Having to fraternise with the kind of characters they’re more used to locking up, they come across a host of ex-cons and lowlifes more than eager to help them reach their goal. But as the pair delve deeper into the New Mexico underworld, they soon realise they may have bitten off more than they can chew.

I’ll be honest, my main reason for watching John Michael McDonagh latest film is not his previous work, it’s actor Michael Peña – who tends to steal the show in each any every film he appears in: Ant-Man, End of Watch, Tower Heist, 30 Minutes of Less… I could go. Peña’s blend of deadpan humour works tremendously well in a film that is as facetious as it is surreal.

Ultimately War on Everyone is like John Michael McDonagh took his idea of the corrupt cop from The Guard and decided to turn it up to eleven – the antithesis of Calvary. Only going such extremes makes his latest film stray from funny to nihilistic; and this blackest-of-black comedy ends up feeling more like a chore than a joy.

War on Everyone is out now on DVD and Blu-ray from Icon.

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