Monday, January 18, 2010
Evil Things (2009)
We are late on the gravy train of this micro budgeted horror film that has been passed around the blogosphere like the head cheerleader to (and through) the varsity football team. Thanks to our buddy over at Freddy In Space, the irrepressible Johnny Boots for alerting us to this one.
Evil Things is a found footage horror film about a young group of five friends (one of which is an aspiring filmmaker that brings along his camera, hence the found footage) that drive out to the countryside for a weekend of fun and celebration as its one of their birthdays. I don't know what it is about the employ of the found footage format that gets me hooked but I'm a total sucker for them. As a matter of fact, yes I do know why. There is a sense of immediate realism to them, a draw of putting you front and center to the experiences that the onscreen characters are going through. In order for the format to work, it must execute on multiple levels to be effective and to that end, Evil Things mostly succeeds.
As the friends drive out to their weekend destination, they come across a dark van that initially, they pull around while driving along a winding road. For awhile, it follows them and at first its laughed off as mere coincidence. Stopping multiple times along the way, the van continues to make an appearance and what was first shrugged off as complete happenstance immediately turns to worry and increased anxiety. The kids continue along undeterred, the van folllowing but soon turning off to follow a different road. And it appears that they will be having the fun filled weekend for which they initially intended.
Getting to the place where they will call home for the weekend, the friends settle in, sing the requisite birthday song to their friend and stay up late, hanging out and knocking back a few cold ones.
The next day, they head out and hike through the woods. Time flys and it starts getting late, and the friends soon find themselves lost. As frustration mounts due to their lost sense of direction, strange noises are heard. First shunning the notion of the mysterious van and its occupant, its instead deemed an animal as it couldn't be anything else. Or could it? After stumbling around they come upon the house and re-enter. But its not long before a rapping at the front door starts in and they find a package which contains a video. They pop it in and it shows someone filming them as they hang out and actually inside the house when they sleep at night. After the viewing, the film is thrown into hyper drive, wratcheting up the anxiety factor which remains all the way until the frantic end.
As mentioned, in order for the found footage format to work, the film needs to execute on a few key levels. The most important of which is the acting which is superbly done by the onscreen actors. Nothing felt forced and their interactions were exactly like hundreds of ones I had with friends in high school and college. When they got anxious, I got anxious and when that happens, you know the director has done a fantastic job of drawing you into their world. The other important aspect which is key is atmospherics. The feeling of something happening but not, that anything can jump out of the background at any given moment, is key. And it was played to great effect, even when there was no perceived threat.
The only issue I had was with the ending. After such a slow burn thats built it feels a little rushed and it doesn't quite have that shock value that both Blair Witch and Paranormal Activity had. Is this comparison unfair? Perhaps. But when you are talking about a film like this, you can't help but do so and the end just did not have that same sort of emotional resonance.
Thats not to say the film wasn't fun or completely thrilling. It certainly is. Definitely a good one to watch in a group setting to see the reactions of everyone else.
Cortez The Killer