Directed by Dominic Perez
Distributed by Scanbox Entertainment
The “found footage” subgenre dishes up another entry with fledgling director Dominic Perez’s attempt at low-key frights, Evil Things. Presented as video evidence received by the FBI with regard to the investigation of the protagonists’ disappearances and utilising the standard trappings of the first-person home video style, Evil Things follows a group of young friends as they take a road trip to birthday girl Miriam’s (Elyssa Mersdorf) aunt’s country villa for a little celebratory partying. Along the way, they are harassed on the road by the unseen driver of a mysterious black van, who also shows up on the scene when they stop at a diner for some food before driving off when confronted by one of the group’s number.
What happens next is the biggest problem with Evil Things: literally close to an hour of just about nothing. Upon arriving at the villa, the group discover the electricity is out before Miriam’s aunt makes a brief appearance to switch the juice on. Protracted scenes of mainly inane prattle amongst the (admittedly not particularly unlikable, but neither particularly interesting) group pad out the runtime incessantly before a “lost in the woods” scenario soon threatens to swing events into The Blair Witch Project territory. Thankfully, that’s not to be as the group eventually find their way back to the house, where a knock on the door provides the startling jumping off point for the third act.
Awaiting on the porch is a videotape which, when played, reveals that the gang have been stalked the entire time by the van’s driver, who has not only filmed them from afar, but from every conceivable vantage point – including standing right over them as they sleep. An attempt to leave sees the ominous vehicle reveal its presence, forcing our protagonists back inside. With very little runtime left, Evil Things thus explodes into a hasty montage of running and screaming that, disappointingly, barely manages to pull off more than a couple effective shocks before it’s time for the credits to roll.
When Perez succeeds, though, he succeeds wildly. The unseen antagonist is sufficiently threatening, the menacing van circling outside like a shark herding his prey, and the entire affair carries a gloomy, melancholic tone that remains pervasively unsettling. The cast are, across the board, perfectly natural with nary a weak link amongst them though the script does make the mistake of having them behave like victims in the finale rather than form a more realistic group offensive.
The most striking success of Evil Things is Perez’s impressive manipulation of the audience in the closing moments, with shifting perspectives leading us to be caught out by just whose camera we happen to be behind. The Ils style noise made by the invisible antagonist is also suitably creepy, working on a base psychological level, as is the distinct lack of answers or explanation as to the reasoning behind the events played out.
When all is said and done, though, Evil Things produces more contextual shivers during the extra footage presented between the ending credits than it manages in the entire preceding runtime. A complete lack of on-screen violence and gore works to its favour, but unsettling as the ending may be, it just isn’t surprising, shocking or scary enough to justify sitting through the hour plus of inanity necessary to get there. Devout fans of the subgenre will want to give it a shot, though, as it’s not completely lacking in reward.
Scanbox Entertainment’s DVD release of Evil Things is very well presented. Sound quality is slightly better than expected for a found footage flick, and the HD-lensed visuals are incredibly crisp and well reproduced. On the special features side of things, we have a collection of video appeals from the victims’ friends and families and a companion piece in the form of additional video evidence chronicling a potential victim being stalked from afar across a city. The Evil Things trailer and a selection of other DVD release trailers bring the package to a close.
2 out of 5
2 out of 5