On a concept level alone, Let’s Be Evil has a lot going for it; a super claustrophobic location, relatively in-date tech (Google Glass may have failed but this is a noticeable step up), and a pretty creepy set of kids that are certainly a little too Village of the Damned for comfort.
So even though the actual execution of the ideas in play might be a tad too lacklustre in places, there’s still a lot of fun to be had with the set-ups and settings anyway.
After all, it’s a pretty tight film, rounding up a fairly basic but well-chosen base cast and throwing them out into the shadowy dangers pretty early on. For a plot that’s based around semi-sci-fi ideals, the world-building behind it’s ruthlessly efficient, without ever feeling particularly spoon-fed, managing to open up a pretty huge sandbox for all sorts of unimaginable horrors, in what basically comes down to a trio of early-twenty-somethings wandering the halls of a fairly ominous facility, searching for a few missing kids. Obviously things gradually escalate, but Let’s Be Evil never really transcends the realms of simplicity, much to its credit.
Brit newbie Martin Owen is clearly playing with a pretty tiny budget here, and he milks it well, shooting almost everything on low-rent POV cameras (which is surprisingly not distracting at all) in a windowless former nuclear bunker. The result is something that often feels a little too much like a first-person video-game, but on the whole it certainly works visually. In fact, what could’ve at one time formed a major, found-footage-style disruption, actually ends up helping the film to stand out pretty well, skipping out on the usual shakey-cam faux pas for an image that stays clean and clear when it matters
The issues come though when the actual ‘horror’ elements jump into play, with Owen refusing to commit to the genre fully, instead dealing out some pretty sanitised spookiness that feels much too chopped-up during some real integral moments. Heavily built-up scares dissipate annoyingly quickly and on a few occasions, it’s actually hard to tell what’s gone on. Most frustrating of all though, it ends up putting the film into something of a nosedive on the lead up to its finale, meaning the climactic twist doesn’t really hit home as well it probably should, coming off predictable at best or otherwise unintelligible to some.
On the whole Let’s Be Evil is a pretty firm stab in the right direction for Owen and co., packed with plenty of creative touches, a praiseworthy cast and an exciting enough plot-line that never really draws reference to the film’s peanuts budget. There’s some bolts that need tightening, and it’s all a little too watered-down to be considered a proper horror flick, but overall it remains impressive nonetheless and will no doubt sit well with a less genre-lead audience.
Let’s Be Evil is released in the UK on 28th October.