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Evil Things (2011)
31st Dec 11
Five friends throwing a birthday party mysteriously disappeared. Fortunately, one of their number filmed ALL the peril for our future entertainment.
Ever since the Blair Witch explosion of ’99, screens have been flooded with found footage takes on ghosts, monsters, aliens, urban legends, cults, other witches, cults, cannibals (though technically those last two got there first) and of course zombies-lots of zombies. One sub-genre that seems to have been missed out is the resilient slasher but that’s an inequity writer director Dominic Perez seeks to rectify and the result is a quite inspired cheapo mash-up.
Claiming to be FBI evidence found after the disappearance of five college buds throwing an intimate 21st birthday party in the country, we’ve got a pretty good idea how things are going to pan out as a mysterious red truck starts harassing them on the road and the intimidation grows more sinister at their country house. It’s a standard FF set up and a standard slasher set up, but the fusion of these two over familiar formulas proves very refreshing.
Perez’s script is perfectly aligned with the slasher rule book, yet seeing events from the victim’s completely in the dark (sometimes literally) POV as things escalate from road-based bullying to full on house invasion for our five partiers is more unnerving than most Voorheesian type fare. Without cutaways to killer POV the threat could be anywhere. Some purists may fume over a slasher flick with no killer POV, but fret not as Perez nicely finds a way to scratch that itch for you.
Of course not jumping away occasionally to see the local deputy or town drunk get hacked up means spending a lot of uninterrupted time with the young cast and fortunately it’s a jolly strong bunch of players. This actually rather charming young troupe feel real and mature as opposed to obnoxious hormone driven knife fodder. Laurel Casillo makes the biggest impression in a talented cast with a turn that’s funny, touching and fear drenched, but everyone here does a great job making you care about their unpromising looking fates even when Perez doesn’t give them much to do.
Inevitably they succumb to the grimmest curse ole Blair bestowed upon us: running around screaming a lot, but that is kept to a minimum. The ending is a blessing and a curse – a shouty assault of frights that move maybe a little too fast, it leaves the viewer feeling a bit short-changed, but does feature a night-light sequence terrifying enough to challenge Silence of the Lambs, The Orphanage and even distant cousin [REC].
Recommended to both the jaded slasher fan, the exasperated FF aficionado or anyone who likes a fresh approach and road horror gems like Five Across The Eyes, Hush or even Duel. Perez’s debut isn’t perfect and won’t be troubling The Blair’s twiggy crown anytime soon but is a nice reminder that both genres can still be scary and involving and that good acting, ideas and execution can still run into one another even on the lowest of budgets.