Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Evil Things (2009)

You have just received a letter from the US Department of Justice which is accompanied by video evidence from a recent investigation that arrives in the form of a DVD, simply titled "The Artifact." The letter reads that the FBI is investigating the disappearance of five friends in the Catskills Mountain range. In an attempt to locate the missing persons, Agent Dominic Perez has requested your help in reviewing the evidence and reporting back with your findings. This is EVIL THINGS.

EVIL THINGS jumps on the "found-footage" trend that has been re-popularized in recent years by films like QUARANTINE and PARANORMAL ACTIVITY. The format can be quite effective if done right, or it can completely distracting if done wrong. EVIL THINGS is done right. The shaky hand-held appearance and muffled audio that occasionally occur throughout the film have the opposite effect that they would normally, lending credibility and integrity to the footage. Perez has also selected a cast of believable, real-life people, as opposed to falling back on bland characterizations. The lack of character development is replaced with character interaction, which makes complete sense in this environment. Characters would not be discussing their backgrounds, dreams, and motivations in a natural setting. It is very much like Greg McLean's brilliant WOLF CREEK in this regard.

Because there is so much downtime in between scares, EVIL THINGS looks and feels authentic. It does not simply line up one startling moment after another, but rather builds on the isolation of the location and the growing fear of the characters. This is both its greatest strength and its greatest weakness, since the pace is sure to turn off many bored parties before any real action takes place. Perez plants an early seed of unease as the characters are being stalked by a mysterious character in the opening scenes. While the terror seemingly subsides, the audience is still left wondering where and when the killer will strike. This all leads up to the shocking twist that lands on the front doorstep in the form of "The Artifact" about an hour in, a videocassette that is sure to chill to the bone! EVIL THINGS plays a complete and unexpected reversal on the "found-footage" format, which validates the film and adds a clever new turn for the genre. The implied violence in the end only goes on to prove that Perez is able to craft a frightening terror tale without resorting to gratuitous gore.

EVIL THINGS is one of the better Independent forays into the "found-footage" format, and a welcome addition for fans of REC, THE LAST HORROR MOVIE, and Haneke's CACHE.

Rating: 7/10.

Read our interview with director Dominic Perez HERE!!

If you liked EVIL THINGS, check out:
CACHE, THE LAST HORROR MOVIE, CLOVERFIELD, LONG PIGS, EYES IN THE DARK, WOLF CREEK.



3 comments:

  1. I'm back again. I watched it and have a review up, so I can finally read your take in full. The comparison to Wolf Creek is spot on. I really enjoyed the slow build, getting to know the characters, and was never bored. I do have some quibbles with the end, because I honestly felt underwhelmed at the conclusion. That turning point, just before the climax, though, really is incredibly creepy.

    On a side note, I noticed some very subtle score earlier in the film (such as when they were in the diner). In fact, it's more of an ambient drone that occurs a couple other times. I think this is the same score that was used towards the end, but I could be wrong.

    ReplyDelete
  2. You are correct Becks that droning does occur earlier on in the film as well, and at both points I think removing it would strengthen the integrity. The shortened finale seems to be the problem that is coming up on most reviews, but the reason I would say I accept it for being so short is due to the fact that in a real life situation where this would be happening, it would make more sense that the characters would drop the camera or be killed quickly than in an extensive cat and mouse game. However, Dominic might consider extending the other vantage point to make up for the difference.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Hey Carl, maybe you can read my review of Evil Things now that you've watched it.

    I saw this (around June)before Paranormal Activity and I instantly compared it to Cloverfield (which I hated) and BWP.

    Its really good in its marketing, its characters (non annoying hipsters) and some decent tension.

    But did you notice the POV switch during the end? Can't overlook that.

    All in all good stuff. It should have gotten some of the positive wake when Paranormal came out but didn't. At least its getting it now with I Like Horror Movies and The Horror Effect.

    ReplyDelete