MVD Visual // 2012 // 82 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Paul Pritchard (Retired) // November 16th, 2012
Take Your Last Trip.
When his friends slip LSD into his juice during a camping trip, the God-fearing Nancy (Zachary Eli Lint) turns psychotic on them, whilst making claims of being able to see their true personas. As a bloodbath ensues, a sinister corporation, overseen by the mysterious Mr. H (Devin Smith), begins to show an unhealthy interest in Nancy and what remains of his friends.
Make no mistake: Dropping Evil is a bad film by anyone's estimation, and yet despite the obvious lack of quality, it's difficult not to want to at least root for the movie as it refuses to go down without a fight. There are countless crumby direct-to-video horror titles hitting the shelves each and every month, but very few have even a tenth of the ambition Dropping Evil possesses, making it a little sad I can find so little to recommend about it.
The films problems are manifold, starting with the 82-minute running time, which in truth is a lot closer to 72 minutes. With such a short amount of time within which to tell a story, it is vitally important that you maximize every second. Unfortunately, first-time filmmakers Adam Protextor (director) and Louis Doerge (writer) waste the entire opening act by filling it with inconsequential details and a couple of crappy musical performances. Our introductions to the three leads is just as unconvincing, as we are given little to suggest they are anything other than badly acted genre stereotypes. Then, just as all hope seems lost, Dropping Evil throws up a series of unexpected developments that at the very least show Doerge and Protextor are aiming higher than most of their peers.
What had initially appeared to be a straightforward slasher suddenly explodes into a series of bizarre, and seemingly barely related subplots involving zombies, evil corporations, and the apparent death of God. To give too much more away would be remiss of me, but as the bigger picture begins to unfold, the film is granted an unexpected level of depth that, though appreciated, sadly isn't executed nearly well enough. With the screenplay purposely vague as to the true motivations of the various participants, it is assumed the viewer will be caught up in the unfolding mystery. Ah, if only this were the case. Where I should have been intrigued, I was instead disinterested as the film's failure to get me invested in the story earlier on severely neutered the impact of the final act. By the time the film makes its big reveal and things start getting really weird, it's far too late. Perhaps streamlining the story a little might have been the answer, as frankly too many elements are brought into play for any to be explored in a meaningful way. I understand the urge to throw every idea you have into your first movie, but a little editing would have worked wonders for Dropping Evil.
Visually -- and even taking into account the film's minuscule budget -- Dropping Evil is at best an imitation of far superior cult flicks (think Fulci, Romero, Tarantino, and even anime), and at worst absolutely awful. The cheap sets mean that supposedly high-tech labs look more like a spare bedroom, while garish computer-generated backgrounds plague an ill-thought-out introduction to an elite group of assassins during the film's second act. The decision to shoot certain scenes in black-and-white is nonsensical, while simple gore effects (think decapitations and impalements) are average at best.
The cast never really impresses, with one exception. Armin Shimerman's (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine) introduction takes place offscreen, yet his delivery is so superior to anyone else in the production that it stands out immediately. This gap in talent is only widened further when Shimerman steps in front of the camera, when the gap becomes a chasm akin to placing a professional footballer in a kids' soccer team. To be fair, the cast isn't helped by the dialogue they are given, which suggests Doerge is a student of Tarantino, as he throws in unnecessary pop culture references and overly wordy monologues that say a lot without actually saying anything.
Despite my reservations about the film itself, MVD's DVD is hard to fault. The 1.85:1 anamorphic transfer won't knock your socks off, but it delivers a clean picture with decent enough color reproduction. The stereo soundtrack tends to be on the flat side, but is more than serviceable.
Dropping Evil ends with an extended trailer for Dropping Evil 2, which suggests answers to some of the film's loose ends -- not to mention an appearance from Fred Williamson (From Dusk Till Dawn). In a somewhat novel move, the sequel has been split into three short films, each running at around 20 minutes. Each of these sequels is included on the DVD, and can be found under the extras menu. Sadly, none really sees a huge jump in quality from the main feature, yet the shorter running time certainly makes them a more palatable proposition, particularly as each is focused on a particular plot thread. And yes, Fred Williamson does make his promised appearance. The rest of the special features are fairly standard: Two deleted scenes, "The Graveyard" and "Family Dinner" are available, while under the "Videos" sub-menu can be found the "Indian Man" music video, along with a faux commercial for the Valyoucorp corporation featured in the film. Finally, four teaser trailers and the official DVD trailer for Dropping Evil are included.
Contrary to the claims made by the uncredited quote on the DVD cover, Dropping Evil is no The Cabin in the Woods. Though never found wanting for ideas, the creative team of Adam Protextor and Louis Doerge fails to gel them all into a satisfying whole. While it is understandable to make compensations for the film's shortcomings based on its small budget and the inexperience of the crew, that would mean doing a disservice to other up-and-coming filmmakers like Drew Rosas (Blood Junkie) and Dustin Mills (Zombie A-Hole), who have crafted far superior entertainment in similar circumstances. As such, Dropping Evil is a commendable -- even likable -- failure, but a failure no less.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: MVD Visual
* 1.85:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 82 Minutes
Release Year: 2012
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Deleted Scenes
* Music Videos