What goes around comes around. Once upon a time, when the Friday the 13th and Halloween franchises got up to silly numbers, they and their teen-slashing ilk received a collective middle finger from jaded cinema audiences, desperate for something a bit more original. This they got, courtesy of the Scream series and the slew of post-modern slashers of the 1990s before the Hostel and Saw movies arrived to revive the spirit of the original video nasties, setting the tone for the many that followed. These days the genre seems to have finally overcome its personality crisis, The Evil in Us being a good case to point. Just honest-to-goodness slaughter here folks, albeit if a very familiar variety.
The plot sees six teenagers head off for a 4th of July celebration in a lonely cabin on a remote island. All is looking good for a weekend of laffs, bad dancing and fumbling bra removal when one of their number starts chopping out lines of cocaine. Turns out this isn’t just any old marching powder, but the product of a fiendish covert terror cell who have poisoned a batch of the drug with a special ingredient that – you guessed it – turns everyone who snorts it into ravenous, blood-crazed killers. Let drug-fuelled mayhem rain down upon these gak-fuelled fools! Oh yes, see that lonesome attractive girl who refused to partake? That’ll be our plucky heroine.
Writer-director Jason William Lee injects a knowingly fetid gust of old school classics like The Burning and I Spit on Your Grave to this well, er, executed, earnestly unpleasant little death-fest. The pretty young cast, the backwoods setting, the grizzled old boatman, the CB radio and wooden jetty may all be clichés but this is a tautly gripping tale that wisely steers clear of those lazy, knowing winks to the audience that are just as liable to derail the terror as amp it up.
Lee makes a virtue of his limited budget by largely avoiding the CGI trap and using some very effective make-up and in-camera effects. Performances are also very solid, all the ‘teens’ seeming to have watched the collective works of Wes Craven beforehand. The one weak link is the police investigator, who seems to have graduated from the Henry Cavill Academy of Acting (which we hear is running a two-places-for-one offer at the moment).
Like a large plate of Wagon Wheels washed down with three pints of Tango, The Evil in Us is an unquiet pleasure you’ll need to walk off the next day. Yes, we’ve seen it all before and the gears it crunches through to get to its blood-soaked finale may be a bit worn out, but hell, they still work. The Evil in Us is a trip up river that’s still worth a punt.
THE EVIL IN US / CERT 18 / DIRECTOR & SCREENPLAY: JASON WILLIAM LEE / STARRING: DEBS HOWARD, DANNY ZAPOROZAN, BEHTASH FAZLALI, IAN COLLINS / RELEASE DATE: OCTOBER 10TH