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Reign In Darkness (2002)
Writers and directors: David W. Allen, Kel Dolen

review by Steve Anderson

Okay... if you ever wanted a convoluted, unnecessarily complicated movie about vampires, where the writers and directors are either so hard up for cash or so egomaniacal that they take the starring roles in their own movie then Reign In Darkness is just the ticket for you.

Get this. "The virus, K-17, portrayed in this motion picture is believed to be real and existing in our society today." This is their opening screen. Just some text that says exactly what I said in quotes. First off, I want to know just who believes this virus to be real and existing in our society today. The filmmakers? Because I'm sure they believe it exists. If they make somebody think this is real it'll boost their rentals and sales like no tomorrow.

But anyway, real or otherwise, what K-17 does is turn people into vampires. Really nasty ones that rip things to bits and pieces in psychopathic blood rages, including our biological researcher / hero of the story, Michael Dorn. And no, it's not Commander Worf. I know, I know... I was expecting the big black guy with the basso profundo that made Barry White sound like the lost member of the Chipmunks. I was as disappointed as you no doubt are to see this spindly white guy instead.

So anyway... now that the False Dorn (which is what I'm gonna call this guy for the rest of the review - I refuse to dignify his name by mentioning it) has been infected with K-17, he's going to take care of business by going out and hunting up every vampire on the face of the earth. And apparently, there's a whole bunch of people who aren't too pleased with that idea, so they send a bounty hunter and another vampire to kill the False Dorn.

Criminy, how many vampires are there in this picture, anyway? Can't tell the vampires without a score card... And you know what? I haven't been with this bounty hunter for more than a half hour, and I already can't stand him. First off, he's got this horrible, horrible accent - lahke sum kahnd of thick twangy thang, almost a patois. And worst off, he won't. Stop. Talking. The guy talks like he's at a Republican Party fundraiser whenever he's on screen.

And the False Dorn is no better. Not only does he narrate, he also has loads upon loads of dialogue. Yap, yap, yap... whether it's what he's doing right now or what he's thinking about or what he's planning to do later, he's telling us about it. It's a wonder he hasn't come out with 'I was, at that moment, never hungrier for nachos.' And the narration is so dry and written in such a substandard manner that listening to it makes me cringe.

Reign In Darkness is possibly one of the strangest movies I've seen in a long time. It blends dry, pale dialogue that stretches for what seems like hours in with some brief moments of pulse-pounding action. It's like alphabet soup flavoured with habaneras - bland but not actively tasteless base with a few instances of truly horrifying heat. It has more peaks and valleys than a relief map of the Himalayas. If only there were a way to balance them all out... then maybe we'd have a pretty good movie on our hands. But we really can't, so that leaves us with a bit of a quandary.

Is Reign in Darkness any freaking good? Yes, actually, but not very. It is a firm entry in the 'average but dull' category, just one more brick in the wall, and another part of the grim and occasionally gleeful procession of mediocrity that pretty much sums up the concept of the direct-to-video industry. The ending is a long-winded yawn-fest in which people who exist by drinking the blood of unwilling victims moralise at their audience for five long minutes about greed and non-green politics. I couldn't believe it. Vampires were telling me how evil I was because I polluted the atmosphere. I killed the spotted owl, and this somehow makes me a more vicious, horrible monster than the guy who rips out human throats nightly. Pot to kettle: 'you are black'.

Better yet, according to the vampires, HIV was created in government labs to kill off drug dealers and homosexuals. Wow... somebody's been reading his Hollow Earth back issues. Reign In Darkness isn't actively offensive, but isn't terribly good either. If they'd stop talking for a little while, and start actually doing something a little more often, maybe they could have picked things up.

The DVD extra features, such as they are, include a behind the scenes featurette and trailers for Reign In Darkness, Wish You Were Dead, Hellion: The Devil's Playground, and Blood Moon.
Reign In Darkness

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