Reign In Darkness (2002)

Sex :
Violence :
Director David W. Allen, Kelly Dolen
Writers David W. Allen, Kelly Dolen
Starring Kelly Dolen, David W. Allen, David No, Chris Kerrison, John Barresi
Genre Vampire
Tagline soon the virus will be unleashed


"Before that day I had never taken an innocent life." - Michael Dorn

Michael Dorn is a Molecular Biologist working on a cure for HIV AIDS. Along with corporate heavies he is injecting local street people with an experimental drug called RVK-17, the results aren't exactly in the Noble prize winning category with drug subjects going Psycho.

During a routine injection of a vagrant, not exactly ethical but what the hey, violence ensues and Michael Dorn ends up being injected himself. Changes are swift with Dorn showing a marked tendency to want to consume human blood. On the bright side he has never felt better. With Corporate hitmen after him, Dorn is after a cure and the real reason behind the drug testing. What he will discover is not exactly what he expects as Dorn uncovers a major conspiracy.

In one of those weird art imitating, well, the internet really, moments I checked up on K-17 to see if the assertion that it's real was based in reality or was something Dave Allen pulled out of his arse cause it sounded cool. Surprisingly I found there's this huge urban rumour about the drug being fair dinkum. See you can convince some folks of anything, and hey those folks supporting the K-17 vamp virus probably see Reign In Darkness as a documentary. Folks I've got a harbour bridge for sale! Actually there was even a website claiming RVK-17 was some sort of secret Government conspiracy, see movies can make a difference to the lifes of people who should be seeking professional help. So it's a digression, shoot me, it's call research around here.

Reign In Darkness has been getting a fair amount of hate delivered on it's doorstep with something of a bandwagon rolling amongst the normal blind followers of said bandwagons who haven't actually seen the movie but feel it's their prerogative to have an opinion. While I'm not going to argue against the claims of wooden or over the top acting, those fake American accents, or a plot that delivers a bunch of ideas that aren't fully realised, I am going to argue that Reign In Darkness is no where near as bad as some people would have you believe, the movie is a debut feature on a limited budget, exactly what were people expecting? The budget here was $49,000, that precludes a lot of the extras that Boredwood $30 million flicks take for granted, and you have to say a damn fine job was made for the limited resources available.

The whole concept of the movie, not mentioned here due to spoilers, is rock solid and provides the basis for a movie that maybe just needed some tweaking on the edges of the script. We follow events via the narration and experiences of central character Michael Dorn (Kelly Dolen doing the business as a sort of white bread version of Blade) as he succumbs to the RVK-17 virus, then seeks to survive corporate hitmen, before trying to get his hands on an antidote. Along the way we have some pretty cool ideas thrown into the mix, half breed vamps, and more action than you could reasonably expect to find in a Chuck Norris movie. Okay so some of the ideas are half baked, i.e not developed successfully, but you still have a pretty good vampire movie flexing it's fangs in amongst the hitmen, gun dealers, and other strange plot inclusions. David W. Allen and Kelly Dolen have delivered a surreal trip into the world of the undead rather than a straight up vamp action flick, there might well be a slight tongue in cheek approach going down here rather than standard movie fodder. Nothing wrong with that in my below the radar opinion, I would rather watch something left field than typical conveyor belt Boredwood stuff.

There's some surprisingly effective aspects to Reign In Darkness that serve notice that the film makers are capable of a whole new level of vision from their debut feature if given a large enough budget. I was digging on the whole red filtered monster POV, with the opening chase scene keeping exactly what sort of monster we are dealing with under wraps. The sequence is effective with some unknown chick only meters from the safety of crowded city streets being chased through an urban wooded parkland. Hey betcha she's not voting Green next election! There's also this cool aerial journey from the outskirts to the center of Melbourne, anyone have any idea where this movie was meant to be set? - that brings to mind Hitchcock's opening to Psycho. I was also digging on the whole Council chamber idea, one of the most outlandishly original ideas I've run across in vampire movie history. This aspect is worth the price of admission alone.

Okay so if you are after a polished Boredwood safe vamp outing then you are in the wrong aisle with Reign In Darkness. This is Indie film making with the associated gonzo approach. Some things work, some things don't, but full marks have to be assigned for mix and matching some cool vampire genre ideas with a large dollop of originality to make something far superior to a lot of the more Critically acclaimed brain dead fodder that litters up our cinemas.

I wasn't quite sure what to expect when I slipped the disc into my player to catch my first viewing of Reign In Darkness. For sure I wasn't expecting a movie filmed mainly during the day that played deliciously with the title, it's not that hard to work out folks! While I'm not going to say the movie is in anyway the definitive statement on what a vampire movie should be, I enjoyed my way through it, rough edges and all. Reign In Darkness is an undiscovered gem that has it's own funky approach to things and which is unapologetic in it's raw qualities. Worth a look for Indie film fans prepared to give low budget debut features a go. While not the greatest ever vampire movie it's not as bad as the would be purveyors of public opinion would have you believe.

If after a copy of the movie, and it will pay you back with a sort of surreal delivery, then try or eBay. Make your own call.

ScaryMinds Rates this movie as ...

  Solid debut feature, and shows what can be done with very limited budgets.