Reign in Darkness

Reign in Darkness

Hardgore, who are becoming a UK genre label to be reckoned with, dish up another helping of low-budget horror mayhem in the form of David Allen and Kel Dolen's splattery vampire flick Reign in Darkness.

The premise is simple; molecular biologist Michael Dorn (Ken Dolen) is working on a cure for HIV by developing a serum called RVK-17. The only problem with this serum is that whilst it does apparently cure HIV, it also turns its users into vampiric beings who crave the blood of the living. However, Dorn accidentally administers himself a dose of RVK-17 during some unethical testing of the drug, and finds himself a fugitive from forces that wish him dead, which leads to plenty of violent and bloody confrontations with his would-be oppressors.

Unfortunately, despite a promising premise, the film is a vast disappointment. The plot itself borrows heavily from Blade, even down to the body suit he designs for himself and the fact that at the top of the food chain is a 'Council' of true-blood vampires. Sound familiar? And since when were molecular biologists trained in weaponry and advanced fighting techniques..?

It's an Australian film, but the accents right across the cast are laughable and by the end of the film I had no idea where the film was supposed to be set. Speaking of acting - that's pretty awful too - especially the ex-marine bounty hunter. His acting is probably the worst of the entire cast, and his accent is so fake that I was cringing every time he was on screen. And I'm not even going to attempt to explain the speech given by the head vampire, Raphael Ravencroft (John Barresi), in the final reel. What the hell is he on about? I was thoroughly confused by the time he'd finished - and I thought it was supposed to be an explanation! Actually, the whole film itself is a muddled mess and extremely confusing; the characters are one-dimensional and the script makes not one jot of sense.

It's a shame really, as this really was a wasted opportunity. It was obvious that the film had a pretty decent crew and the FX aren't half bad, but it seems to have all been squandered in an attempt to create a lame Hollywood-style movie. Instead of going for the jugular and making something that could have been an all-out balls-to-the-wall horror movie, they ended up making this piece of junk.

The DVD itself is reasonably good, Hardgore have done a fairly respectable job with the transfer. However, one complaint I have with the disc is this - the film is presented in 2:35:1, but at the bottom of the 16x9 frame there was a distracting green line running across the screen. I managed to 'tune it out' as I watched the film, but I can imagine some viewers being a bit disgruntled by it. But yes, the image itself is okay considering it's a relatively low-budget (but not as low as you'd think) shot-on-video flick. Think Session 9 and you'll have a pretty good idea of the picture quality.

The sound is just a standard DD 2.0 presentation which is a shame really - I noticed as the credits rolled at the end of the film that the sound was recorded in DD 6.1 EX, so where was this audio option?

The disc isn't exactly bursting with extras either, no commentary (and I'm pretty sure there is one out there on discs in other regions), no featurette, nothing. Zilch. Nada. Okay, so there's a theatrical trailer as well as trailers for other Hardgore/Screen International releases. But that's your lot.

Overall, a bit of a disappointment and not a film I'd urge you to all rush out and see. I wish I could say more, but I can't. The film was dire and the DVD should have been better than it was in terms of supplementary features. There's plenty of gore on display, but it's really not enough to save this abysmal piece of filmmaking.

Review by C J

Released by Hardgore
Region 2
Rated 18
Extras :
Theatrical Trailer