Friday, September 9, 2016

Don't Watch This Alone!: THE EVIL GENE

Welcome to another installment of DON'T WATCH THIS ALONE!, where we review the best, the worst and everything in between in the world of horror. This week we review a horror story based on real scientific research...HHS-282 better know as THE EVIL GENE.

There is one of those endless and sometimes fun tests going around Facebook right now that asks you to take it and see if you are a psychopath or not. According to the test, I’m one…but that’s for another discussion. The reason I bring that particular test up in this movie review is that it’s basically what the premise of The Evil Gene centers around. The very real idea that people can be born with a rare genetic defect, known as HHS-282, that triggers violent, psychotic breakdowns in those who carry it. It’s an interesting premise that writer/director Kathryn F. Taylor weaves into a story that is both spooky and intense and that asks the question; what if evil wasn’t a choice?

The Evil Gene stars Richard Speight, Jr. as FBI Agent Griff Krenshaw who has been sent to the top secret Federal Corrections Facility, known as Godfrey, where geneticists and psychoanalysts have been experimenting on criminals to test the theory that this gene exists. He is there to investigate the apparent suicide death of the head of research, Dr. Mobley. His bosses at the FBI, Director Carlson (Lindsay Ayliffe) and Director Nelson (Don Hartman), have doubts that the death was really a suicide. At the prison facility, Griff meets Dr. Dana Ehrhart (Cameron Richardson), Mobley’s assistant, and Warden Sweeney (Lindsey Ginter). Both are also convinced that Mobley committed suicide. After Griff is presented with Dr. Mobley’s journal, which is filled with strange drawings and cryptic passages, the Agent begins to suspect that something darker is happening within the prison walls than just research into criminals with a genetic defect. As he begins experiencing strange sightings of a mysterious man with black eyes wandering the halls (Jon-Paul Vertuccio) and meets up with Father Warren (Ted Heyck), the chaplain of the prison, he becomes convinced that there are demonic forces at work within Godfrey. However, as The Evil Gene unfolds and Krenshaw begins to be influenced by the priest and the notions of demons, nothing is what it seems.

Richard Speight, Jr. is no stranger to working with storylines involving demons, having been in four episodes of the TV series Supernatural playing The Trickster/The Angel Gabriel. In The Evil Gene, Speight Jr. takes on the role of the ‘by the books and tightly wound’ character of Griff Krenshaw and makes you believe that this character is a man who is slowly coming unraveled. He doesn’t just peel back layers, he radiates the kind of intensity in the role that burns them away.  The stark, enclosed setting of the prison lends to the emotional tensions that run through the characters in The Evil Gene, from the guards, to the research scientists to the criminals themselves. Kathryn F. Taylor’s script is filled with twists and turns that become even more unnerving in this kind of close quarters setting.

Not to say this movie doesn’t have weak spots. Aside from Richard Speight, Jr. carrying the storyline and a good performance from Lindsey Ginter as Warden Sweeney, the rest of the actors seem to fall a bit flat in their roles which were on the overly clich├ęd side as it was; especially the prisoners. Cameron Richardson as Dana Ehrhart just didn’t seem very convincing in her role as far as I am concerned, often seeming to just be phoning in her lines.

The Evil Gene is a good movie, it certainly keeps you guessing about what is really going on at the Godfrey facility. The story premise is based on real, scientific studies into the HHS-282 gene’s possible existence. Richard Speight Jr.’s presence and acting is this movie well worth watching it for.

Marla’s Score: 7/10

The Evil Gene from UnCork'd Entertainment is now available digitally on iTunes, Xbox, Google, Vudu, Amazon, DirecTV, Dish and more. Also available on DVD from Walmart and Family Video.

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1 comment:

  1. This review is well written. You are a talented writer.