Review: Evil Things (15) / Directed by: Dominic Perez / Written by: Dominic Perez / Starring: Gail Cadden, Laurel Casillo, Morgan Hooper, Ryan Maslyn, Elyssa Mersdorf, Cynthia Shaw, Torrey Weiss
I have a theory about ‘found footage’ movies. The more annoying the main cast, then the more authentic the film. On this facet, no budget found footage horror film Evil Things is to be commended. The cast of characters here are amongst the most annoying in any film ever, not to mention the fact that they are also complete and utter idiots. Logic mostly takes a back seat in Evil Things and it’s a testament to the fact that no matter how bad a writer or director you may be, you can still sell any piece of crap with the found footage label on it.
The film starts with our small gathering of imbeciles, three girls, two boys, their names escape me but I seem to think one of them was called Chad or something equally idiotic, driving to their home for the weekend out in the wilderness. It’s snowing, the roads are treacherous, one of them is the obligatory documentary maker, and you get the gist. Despite travelling at a speed akin to a tortoise with some heavy shopping due to the snow and ice, one of the girls keeps getting car sick so they end up pulling over every five minutes. They keep getting overtaken by a large van with dark windows which may as well have ‘Serial Killer’ pasted on the side. Every time they stop they see this van but try and put it out of their mind so as not to spoil the weekend. At this point it would have been a good idea to write down the number plate of the van but nobody thinks about that. Eventually they get to the house in the middle of nowhere and after much hilarity concerning the power being off they start drinking and doing increasingly inane impressions into the camera. This scene seems to last about half an hour and makes up much of the 74 endless minutes of torture that this film represents. The next day they reluctantly wake up and head off to explore the wilderness in the snow. Suddenly the camera cuts off and when it comes back on it's dark and our heroes are all at each others throats because they are lost in the woods. They start to hear noise, the girls start to scream very loudly, they all run for about 2 minutes and then hey presto they are back on their front door step. This scene has to be seen to be believed and is almost worth the price of a rental alone. There they are in the dark, hopelessly lost in the woods and ready to eat the weakest member. They do a brisk jog and end up right back on their front porch. Back at the house the contemplation of cannibalism is swiftly forgotten and they start joking and drinking again. Then the phone starts ringing with nobody there, there is a knock at the door and nobody there and a mysterious package containing a video tape is left on the doorstep. They play the video and it shows footage, taken from inside the menacing van from previously, of the crew driving to the house, partying the first night, wandering uselessly through the woods and finally and most alarmingly of all footage of them asleep inside. Needless to say, there are tears and tantrums, a plan is hatched to leave but their car has gone and the menacing van is back outside. What exactly happens next is anyone’s guess but it’s made up of night vision footage, footage from inside the serial killer van and god knows what else. As far as I can tell, one kid disappeared, two ran off into the woods, one is unaccounted for and one dies horribly. It makes no sense and frankly, you hope they're all dead…
The problem with Evil Things is obvious from the first ten minutes. Writer and director Dominic Perez has no clue what he is doing. The film starts with one of those evidence logging cards as if it is a piece of evidence found in the FBI archives. Ten minutes later and suddenly a score of incidental stock horror music kicks in. So what are we supposed to believe that in his spare time, some rogue FBI agent sneaks out evidence footage and puts musical scores to them as a lark? I can just see it in the court room, interrogation footage giving the jury extra entertainment with a dramatic 'Dum Dum DERRR!!!' as the suspect confesses on tape. Perhaps even worse and more illogical is the fact that the later footage is made up of film that the apparent killer is filming. So he edited it and turned it in himself? It makes sense that the authorities would find the kids' camera as they are all missing but why would the killer turn in his video which he obviously filmed as a kinky thrill? Why then would the Philip Glass of the FBI edit into existing footage to make a whole complete film? Suspension of disbelief only goes so far when you are striving for realism with your film.
Evil Things also chops and changes between which films it’s ripping off. The beginning is a lot like Jeepers Creepers or Duel. Then it’s Paranormal Activity in the house. Then for five hilarious minutes it’s the Blair Witch Project before becoming Lost Highway and back to Paranormal Activity again. A coherent through line to what narrative there was would have made all the difference.
I didn’t think it would be possible for me to see a worse film than The Wicker Tree in 2011 but Evil Things is that film. Dominic Perez should never be allowed camera or editing equipment again!
Extras: Trailer, More evidence footage found, Video appeals from the characters family members (!?)
'Evil Things' is out now on DVD