Saturday, July 9, 2011

DVD Reviews: Evil Things

Article first published as DVD Review: Evil Things on Blogcritics.

After taking a trip to a remote location, five friends disappear without a trace. No evidence has ever been found as to what happened to them until now. A mysterious tape has been dicovered and it will reveal the horror that they went through, and hopefully open the door to answering what happened.

Evil Things begins a bit like Cloverfield. You are presented with a single frame showing that what you are about to watch is an FBI evidence tape anonymously sent by mail. From there, the movie begins and we bear witness to what this tape holds and the horrors within. Five friends, Cassy (Laurel Casillo), Mark (Morgan Hooper), Tanya (Torrey Weiss), Leo (Ryan Maslyn whom we rarely see because he is the camera man) and Miriam (Elyssa Mersdorf) travel from New York to Miriam’s Aunt Gail’s (Gail Cadden) country home for a fun weekend.

On the way, they encounter a little road rage and a couple scares before reaching their destination. Once they arrive, they can begin Miriam’s 21st birthday party. But all is not well. As the weekend unfolds, so does the horror that awaits them. What happens next is beyond terrifying.

The movie can be compared to Quarantine and Paranormal Activity, and in my book, I found this to be better than Paranormal Activity. With Paranormal Activity, I found myself wondering when it was all going to end; With Evil Things, I wanted more. It’s a ride through terror that starts strong and well paced, but about 20 minutes in, it slows, and then takes a decent amount of time for the story to ramp up and get going again.

A bit of the mingling and dialogue between the characters could have been substituted with a few more frightening moments. At times during the slow moments it feels as if everything is alright, made apparent as the characters enjoy their party, even after a spooky moment. Over all, everything works out well in the end as we are catapulted into a finale that even caught me by surprise.

Evil Things marks the debut of director Dominic Perez who shows he already has a solid grasp on the concept of a good horror film. Some may say a few of the thrills and chills in this movie are a bit cliché, but what horror movie isn’t? Perez doesn’t go for gimmicky scares or special effects but rather he has gone for grasping your mind firmly and twisting your psyche. He works to trigger your fears and freak you out. He does so very well and sparks some intense moments throughout the film that almost have you looking over your shoulder.

The cast's performances make you believe their fear is genuine. Never did I find any of them lacking in talent and it only added to the sheer horror brought forth from the film. This is especially important in a genre that is already full of performances that are cringe- or laugh-worthy, depending on your perspective. The whole time they are screaming, panicking or just caught in a moment of pure fear never made me feel they were overacting. All performances are solid and added that much more realism to the horror.

The DVD has a crisp, clean image quality that is constant throughout the movie. The sound especially adds to the atmosphere of the movie and helps to draw you in and make you part of what’s going on. Unfortunately I cannot comment much further on the DVD as my copy was a screener, and only contained a trailer for the film and the film itself. Whether any further extras will be added by the time of release is yet to be seen, as I would love to see a small behind the scenes documentary.

Overall the movie is good. The pacing could have been a bit better as we get a good start, slows down a bit then hits a finale full of trepidation and consternation. It easily could have had a few more moments of fright weaved into the story to help progress it faster. However by the end of the film, you are grasped tightly with fear when we see what happens to these five friends as they struggle to survive. The footage at the very end and during the credits is especially disconcerting.

I came away from this film with a bit of a cringe and a little paranoid. It leaves a lot for your mind to interpret and play with to bring your fears into the open. This is where the movie's true horror effect comes in. Dominic Perez doesn’t just try to bring you a film that’s scary with Evil Things, he goes a step further by messing with your psyche and making you walk away paranoid and concerned for your own safety. At the time of this review Evil Things was not rated. It will be available on DVD August 9th, 2011.

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