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A dash of noir mood – The Reign of Death (film)

In 2009, Matthew Savege (The Dark Knight, X-Men: First Class, Doctor Who, among others) wrote and directed this short film featuring Noel Clarke (Doctor Who) in the lead role.
The film toured the whole UK film festival circuit that year and became quite popular on the net.
In an interview in July 2010, Clarked talked about a film project based on the short, but I couldn’t find any info on the film actually being shot.

REIGN OF DEATH - a short dieselpunk film with a lot of noir and SF #shortfilm Share on X

I enjoyed the film, though in all honesty I’m not sure I’d enjoy the story as much if I read it in a book. The basic idea, though working, is nothing to get excited about. Characters and situation are quite clichéd, included the end twist, which is so common I’m not sure I’d even consider it a true twist. This said, I enjoyed the surprise at the end.

Other then the story, everything else clicked for me. The setting and the characters are no doubt noir. Colours and sounds recreate the feel of the noir films effectively and the dieselpunk element is right there with one of the characters.

I enjoyed it. And you?


A very insightful review of the short film by Short of the Week
A short behind the scene video by VFX Breakdowns
An interesting discussion on io9


  • Crispian Thurlborn
    Posted February 23, 2015 at 10:37

    Excellent short. I enjoyed it very much. I think the story would work provided the writer didn’t reveal the robot element immediately, but rather offered that later as the twist. It could be done quite well.

    • Post Author
      Posted February 25, 2015 at 06:31

      Uhm… maybe. In general, I’m not too keen on stories that rely solely on a final twist. I prefer more organic ideas. But I understand that telling a story in under 6 minutes it’s a challenge 🙂

  • CW Hawes
    Posted February 23, 2015 at 15:25

    Glad you posted the film, Sarah. Quite honestly, it didn’t do much for me. The noir element was fun and I liked the robot. But the mood struck me as fairly campy, which sapped the effect of the noir atmosphere.

  • Post Author
    Posted February 25, 2015 at 06:34

    I read reviews that addressed the shifting mood of the film and yeah, I agree the mood isn’t consistent. Besides, noir relies both on dark elements as well as sarcasm, and I think striking a balance is harder than one would think.

    • CW Hawes
      Posted February 25, 2015 at 21:36

      Yes, I agree. I think the sarcasm is the more difficult to pull off. I’ve thought some more about the film and, while it is still rather campy, I did like the twist at the end. He “kills” the robot and then to add insult to injury urinates on him only to be electricuted in the process. Then the robot revives and, well, I have to say I rather like that. 🙂

  • Nasim Mansuri
    Posted March 3, 2015 at 06:17

    I have to say, that’s one of the weirdest things I’ve seen in a while… I appreciate a good noir short, but this was, like you said, pretty cliched and probably not as well executed as it could have been. I do love the universe it seems to be set in, though.

    (I’m catching up on your blog now, sorry for the delay!)

  • Post Author
    Posted March 3, 2015 at 06:28

    Hi Nasim and thanks for stopping by 🙂
    Yeah, it is a bit weird, but I enjoyed it.

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