Judge Paul Pritchard isn't evil, just misunderstood.
They Were Never Seen Again…Until Now.
When five college buddies left behind New York City for a remote country home to celebrate a birthday in 2009, they little realized what awaited them. Within forty-eight hours of arriving at their destination, the group had vanished completely, and has not been seen since…until now. A video recording, captured by the group themselves, is all that has been left behind.
Although Dominic Perez's debut feature, Evil Things, may not add much to either the horror genre nor the found footage sub genre, what it does provide is an effective, measured, and well-crafted thriller, albeit with one niggling flaw. As was the case with Paranormal Activity and Cloverfield before it, there comes a time when the viewer has to ask just why the hell the person behind the camera is still filming. Now, when a giant monster is ripping New York City apart, or a poltergeist is playing havoc with your girlfriends sleep pattern I suppose you can give the film the benefit of the doubt—the sheer bizarre nature of the unfolding events do make filming them a real possibility. However, when you're being stalked by a killer hell-bent on gutting you, it really does seem unlikely you'd insist your friend keep filming. Still, put that to one side, and Evil Things delivers.
Perez shows himself to be an astute filmmaker, taking his time doling out the scares, whilst refusing to conform to the modern trend of emphasizing gore over real horrors. In fact, Evil Things is a strictly blood-free zone. Opening on the road, as the friends begin their journey, the movie gradually introduces an air of tension as a mysterious van begins a game of cat and mouse. It begins simply enough, with the van driver cutting up their car, but becomes ominous when the same van turns up outside a diner where the friends are eating, and again at a gas station. Though understandably a little freaked out, the group is able to dismiss the events as the act of a local weirdo. This is where Evil Things will lose some viewers, while rewarding those with a little patience, as the second act takes its foot off the pedal and slows things right down. Rather than building on the tension, Perez opts to let the viewer get to know his cast a little better as they begin the birthday celebrations. This proves important, as thanks to a combination of good writing and good acting, it isn't too hard to find this group of friends quite likeable. In general they act and talk like regular twentysomethings, a rarity for a horror movie, and the time spent with them makes the events of act three all the more effective.
When the time finally comes for the excrement to hit the fan, Evil Things hits hard and fast. After an apparent prank call and a late-night knock at the door, the group discovers a videotape has been left on their doorstep. In the most powerful scene in the film, an interesting twist on the found footage genre, the friends discover that whomever has been stalking them has been filming everything, too. Perez really earns some serious points here, as he delivers an unnerving scene that his cast—most notably Laurel Casillo—really sells. From thereon in, Evil Things plays out with a morbid inevitability that works all the more thanks to Perez's no-gore rule. An extended coda ensures the viewer is left feeling slightly unsettled, if not completely disturbed.
The DVD includes two extras, both of which aim to build on the film's realism. The first features friends and family of the group delivering an appeal for the safe return of their loved ones, while "Stalker 101" offers a little more insight into the workings of the film's villain.
Picture quality is very good, with a sharp 1.78:1 anamorphic transfer that is high in detail. Colors are natural, and black levels good. The 5.1 soundtrack offers an effective mix.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Inception Media Group
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