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Evil Things (2009)

Inception Media Group
DVD Released: 8/9/2011

All Ratings out of
Movie: 1/2

Review by Mike Long, Posted on 8/16/2011

In my recent reviews for Yellowbrickroad and Quarantine 2: Terminal, I wrote about the legacy created by The Blair Witch Project. Although this film didnít invent the ďfound footageĒ and ďfirst-person cameraĒ genre, it certainly put it on the mainstream map and weíve been inundated with the bastard spawn ever since. These movies typically fall into the horror category, and when we watch them, one question repeatedly comes to mind, ďWhy donít they put the camera down?Ē In movies like The Blair Witch Project, The Last Exorcism and [REC], the events are purposely being documented as part of a project or assignment. But, movies like Cloverfield, while they are good, leave us to wonder why they didnít abandon the camera and run for it. The low-budget entry Evil Things once again brings the question to mind, along with others like ďWhy am I still watching this?Ē

In Evil Things, Leo (Ryan Maslyn) and his friends Miriam (Elyssa Mersdorf), Mark (Morgan Hooper), Cassy (Laurel Casillo), and Tanya (Torrey Weiss) take a road-trip from New York City to a Miriamís auntís house in the country. Leo has just gotten a new HD camera and insists on videoing the whole trip. They traverse the snowy roads which are made even more treacherous by a dark van which appears to be pursuing them. After stopping to eat, and seeing the van again, they finally make it to the safety of the house. They celebrate Miriamís birthday and then head off to bed. The next day, they explore the area. However, the fun times come to an end when they realize that their experiences with the van arenít over.

Evil Things takes the age-old idea of a group of youngsters going into the woods and finding trouble and attempts to add a new element to it. (Why canít these people ever just stay home?) In fact, the movie takes this familiar idea and piles as many elements on it as possible. First, we have the mysterious van pursuing the car (how many times have we seen that in a movie?). Once the group finally gets to the house, after being lost several times, the power is out. Why is this happening? The next day, they get lost in the woods. Why didnít anyone mark their path through the snowy forest? Then, bad things start happening at the house.

While watching Evil Things one canít help but think that Writer/Director Dominic Perez is both making it up as he goes along and trying everything that he can to pad the movieís running time. The movie desperately tries different things, but nothing works. In the end, the movie is exactly what it is -- we are watching a group of people who are strangers to us who have videotaped their vacation. And we watch them do one stupid and boring thing after another. The last 15 minutes tries to infuse some action into the movie, but even then, itís difficult to discern exactly what is happening. The movie leaves us in the dark (literally), and when the revelation of what has been occurring comes, itís disappointing to say the least. The movie hopes that its simplicity will be chilling, but itís not.

For all of its flaws and tedium, Evil Things does bring one new thing to the table. (Spoiler Alert: I donít want to give too much away, but discussing this will shed some light on the ending.) During the third act, we suddenly realize that we are no longer watching Leoís footage. The end product of Evil Things incorporates footage from Leoís camera, as well as another. Yes, in movies like The Blair Witch Project and [REC 2], we saw footage from two different cameras, but we knew what we were seeing, here, itís somewhat of a surprise, and thus, novel. Of course, the movie also tries to follow this same logic to explain why thereís music in the movie, but this doesnít work. Even when we understand why thereís music, itís decidedly out of place in a found footage movie. (End Spoiler Alert)

Speaking of giving things away, I donít want to ruin anyoneís expectations about the film, but despite what the title and the trailer imply, there is nothing supernatural happening here. As a low-budget, independent production, Evil Things canít help that itís a low-rent affair. However, it didnít have to play as one. Just because a character decides to video everything that happens, doesnít mean that we want to see it. Not much happens in Evil Things and when it does, we canít help but ask, ďíWhy doesnít he put the camera down?Ē

Evil Things must have had a tired arm when it was all over on DVD courtesy of Inception Media Group. The movie has been letterboxed at 1.78:1 and the transfer is enhanced for 16 x 9 TVs. The image is very sharp and clear, showing no overt grain and no defects from the source material, save for the intended rough cuts. Shot on HD video, the exterior daytime scenes are crystal clear and very detailed. The night time scenes are a tad dark at times, as the light is often from flashlights. There is very limited artifacting here. The DVD offers a Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track which provides clear dialogue and sound effects. Our assumption, as this is ďfound footageĒ, is that the audio was recorded through the single mic on the camera. Thus, the fact that much of the sound comes from the front channel isnít surprising. However, there are some scattered stereo effects and two scenes (the gas station and the waterfall) provide notable surround sound effects.

The Evil Things DVD contains three extras. "Friends and Family" (7 minutes) is additional footage which shows those who knew the kids asking for help in the search. These are on-camera interviews which actually features some OK acting. "Stalking 101" (6 minutes) is more "found footage" of woman being followed through the city to her home. This carries a "label" which makes it a companion piece to the movie. The final extra is the TRAILER for Evil Things which implies that something supernatural happens in the movie...and also features the title in the same font as the Resident Evil movies.

Review Copyright 2011 by Mike Long