Directed by Chris Fisher
In the independent thriller Meeting Evil, we are introduced to down on his luck realtor John (Wilson) who could not be having a worse day: He’s just been fired by his jerk-off of a boss, he lashes out at his well-meaning wife (Bibb) and kids after their surprise birthday party for him goes awry, and he’s about to meet the most dangerous stranger this side of The Hitcher – Jackson’s character, Ritchie, who arrives and injects a bit of chaos and murderous mayhem into John’s sad-sack of a life.
As it turns out, Ritchie isn’t exactly the nicest of guys so when he sees John getting trampled over repeatedly by life, the newfound acquaintance of our protagonist jumps in to rectify the situation in very odd but deadly ways. As Ritchie leaves a body count in his wake throughout the small community, he catches the attention of local law enforcement, and soon the police are hot on the trail of the cold-blooded but charismatic killer and his unassuming accomplice and new BFF for life.
As the stakes continue to rise higher and higher, it’s up to John to figure out a way to escape his charming captor and keep everyone around him safe from Ritchie’s deadly tendencies before he goes too far.
At the helm of Meeting Evil is writer and director Chris Fisher, who adapted his screenplay from Thomas Berger’s novel of the same name, and as a quirky, blackly comedic thriller the film mostly succeeds if you’re willing to just go along with the ride. Sure, there are a few logic flaws here and there (mostly involving why John doesn’t just run the hell away from Ritchie at various times throughout the film), but if you’re willing to suspend disbelief a bit and accept the flick for what it is–an off-kilter and sometimes comedic exploration of the dark side of suburban malaise–you may end up finding yourself rather entertained at the conclusion of the 90-minute running time.
As the reluctant hero, Wilson is serviceable and plays the downtrodden role of John pretty well although he ends up being outshone by his two co-stars, Jackson (who seems to relish roles like these) and Wilson’s onscreen better half, played with a delightfully wicked streak by Bibb. Both keep the story both moving forward and interesting until the very end with their contributions helping maintain Fisher’s quirky tone and the darkly comedic atmosphere of Meeting Evil as well.
But the reality is that Meeting Evil isn’t going to be a movie that everyone will love; it’s certainly a divisive film due to the premise that one man could be so unmotivated to take a stand for anyone or anything that he’d blindly sit by and let a killer execute innocent people just because it’s easier than dealing with the consequences.
There’s also an ambiguous ending in Meeting Evil that definitely leaves the audience with a lot to ponder so for those of you out there who like your stories tied up in neat little bows by the end, perhaps this isn’t the movie for you. But for those who dig on some ambiguity and having a little food for thought with their entertainment, you will appreciate Fisher’s efforts here; and for those who ultimately can’t get on board, there’s no denying that at the very least the flick is one of the more thought-provoking independent thrillers in a good while.
Overall Meeting Evil is one of those oddball films that kind of sneaks up on you and successfully manages to toss in a few unexpected surprises along the way. It’s certainly not a flawless affair by any means, but if you can put aside your preconceived notions and enjoy the movie for what it is, you may be pleasantly surprised by what the bizarrely entertaining Meeting Evil has to offer.
3 1/2 out of 5