I interviewed the Director, Pedro Chaves, while this film was in post-production. It is an idependant movie made on a low budget over a very short time period, and we can only dream about what it might have been were more time and finances available, but we have to take it as it is. The lack of resources shows, but it’s still a real accomplishment with an inspired concept and good production values.
Not to be confused with massage or the art of healing, Reiki is a violent film about two rival sets of immortals – “The Order” and “Witches” – able to live on after death by reincarnation, and the one weapon that can kill them perminently: The Sword called “Reiki.”
A film of highs and lows, it’s 50% stilted acting and 50% competent. The first half is… difficult to get through. I assume the scenes were filmed in order because initially the actors do not seem comfortable in their roles. Of course, at this stage in the story the characters have no idea who they or or what’s going on, so there’s very little for the actors – or the audience – to get a grip on. I appreciate the amnesia is supposed to create mystery and suspense, but all I experienced was confusion.
Without any idea of the significance of what is happening or the characters motives the series of random fight scenes that follow are just that: a series of random fights. I didn’t care about the characters enough to invest in the outcome, plus neither side seemed in real danger, with every coup de grace systematically avoided. And then Zombies appeared, which seemed so ridiculously random it made me laugh out loud! By now I was extremely close to switching off and giving up Reiki as a bad job. But I’m glad I didn’t.
The second half is a totally different beast. It’s confident and powerful. I can only assume that the production crew finally hit ther stride. We’re given flashbacks to Vann (Martin Swabey)’s past as his memories gradually start to emerge, retrospectively making sense of everything. We’re given some highly atmospheric and emotive scenes that are extremely gripping. Boy, was I investing now! This all lead to the ending which in my opinion makes this movie. This is pretty unusual, normally endings disappoint me, but in this case it made the whole experience worthwhile. Reiki builds from a bit of a ‘Bleh’ move to a powerful climax. The last few minutes are a work of art, both emotive and thought-provoking.
If you are a fan of independant productions or like your Fantasy a bit more on the experimental side I believe, overall, you will enjoy Reiki. It is a film of niche appeal and it’s unfortunate the beginning is so difficult to get through. (But, y’know, you could skip the beginning and not miss a great deal. Seriously, it’s the ending you want). Reiki isn’t a Hollywood re-hash, it’s different and fresh. Reiki is notably the first Belgium feature-length fantasy film and it’ll be interesting to see what this Director produces in the future.