Finding herself flooded with medical bills due to her mother’s illness, Jenny accepts a job in a prestigious research company where security and discretion are their top priorities. After passing thru several checkpoints and identity verification, the young woman finds a set of glasses with augmented reality features, and once she wears them she meet the two other persons that will be working with as chaperones for an advanced study experiment.
As they arrive to what it seems to be a simple underground storage facility, Jenny, Tiggs and Darby are welcomed by an advanced artificial intelligence called Arial, and after noticing that without the glasses they would literately be in the dark, the young adults discover that the candidates selected for the experimental program are actually very young kids that thru the special glasses are learning about several difficult subjects and that can even communicate between them without speaking.
After getting used to the isolation, the lack of natural light and the extreme silence from the children, Jenny notice a strange behavior in one of the kids, like if she was trying for some reason to distance herself from the other candidates. After several isolated incidents, Jenny starts to have some hallucinations that could be due fatigue and the strange working environment, or maybe they could be happening because someone has decided to do some changes in the experiment and that the adults are no longer necessary.
I found the premise of “Let’s Be Evil” very interesting, specially because at moments it deals with the theme of the augmented reality, the technology, and how we can become dangerously dependent of it, it also touches on the crisis on the educational system, and how everything can go really, really wrong when a experiment works a little too bit too well. The problem with the film is that by having a tittle like “Let’s Be Evil”, we are expecting from the beginning a survival, sci-fi themed story with suspense and action with the kids as the antagonists, but the first part of the film consist in a lot of scenes that just try to set the mood, with a lot of dialogue that could be interesting mostly to science fiction fans and thus, by the time the inevitable chaos hits the screen, most of the audience could be no longer that invested in the story.
On the technical side, it was interesting to see how the film presented most of the story on a “first person perspective” thru the special glasses that the characters use, and without necessarily becoming a commercial for Google Glass or Occulus Rift, it left me wondering if the film could have work in a 3-D format. While some people might think about skipping this film because they are not fans of the “Found Footage” genre, I would say this movie feels more like a FPS video game, think of it as “Hardcore Henry” but without the vertigo inducing shots, since in this movie the camera never shakes too much, and we can always clearly see what is happening. I am not sure if this movie will be a trend setter, but I believe it will open more options in terms of story telling with its technique.
The film, as I said before, starts a little bit slow, but when the conflict that we have been waiting for finally arrives, the movie gets a much faster pace and it manages to create a tension with a very good use of sound effects with out relying on cheap jump scares, I’ll point out that there is almost no gore or graphic violence. The special effects are very few, but they work great, specially all those designed to create the illusion of the augmented reality environment. The film also has a soundtrack that I liked a lot (I’m a sucker for synth wave, I recently discovered) and the acting was good. Although in the end we don’t know much about the adults and we end up with several questions unanswered “Let’s Be Evil” works very well as a Sci-fi thriller with a moral to be learn on several levels.
“Let’s Be Evil” was directed by Martin Owen (L.A. Slasher) and co-written with Elizabeth Morris, who plays Jenny in this film, and can be seen in “L.A. Slasher”, the cast also has the talents of Kara Tointon, Ellior James Langridge and Isabelle Allen.
“Let’s Be Evil” will be released on VOD and on selected theaters on August 5th, coming from IFC Midnight Films.