Directed by Peter Koller
Austria is not exactly known for its horror output. In fact, I can’t name a single other film from the country, which right off the bat makes On Evil Grounds significant and important. Said significance would mean neither jack nor shit if the film was a piece of crap, but thankfully On Evil Grounds’ importance is intact because, damnit, this is a goddamn fun movie.
I went in with very little plot information, only that it concerns two psychopaths (Romeo & Julia) attempting to make a psychotic little love nest of their own. Some bad shit goes down, which should be expected almost daily when you’re psychotic, and pretty soon Romeo finds himself literally up to his neck in problems and Julia his only hope of survival.
While it might seem like it has the potential to be dark and dirty, instead On Evil Grounds goes for the funny bone more often than it does the jugular. At first it’s hyper-violent and shocking, but you can almost always expect someone to get hit in a particularly vicious way every few minutes. It’s all tempered by the fact that nothing seems to kill anyone in this movie, at least not the leads, to the point where eventually you realize you’re watching a live-action cartoon.
The acting is top rate with all three of the film’s leads (Romeo, Julia and The Madman who lives on the property they’re trying to buy) turning in comedic but believable performances, but Petrovic (Romeo) deserves special mention because he shows off some of the best facial expressions to convey what he’s going through. This is very important since he spends about 90% of the movie in the ground buried up to his neck. All he’s really got is his face, and he uses it to its fullest potential.
If you’re curious to know more regarding the plot, basically Romeo goes to give the sleazy real estate agent (or real estate pimp, as he’s referred to later) the money so they can move into the place, an abandoned factory, and the agent feels he has something to prove so he pulls a knife on him. Needless to say it doesn’t end well for the sleazebag.
Romeo is told to dispose of the body, Julia doesn’t care how or where, just do it, so for whatever reason he decides to bury him on the grounds of the place they just bought. This leads him to meet The Madman, who uses the hole Romeo was digging to trap the young lover, fucking with him in a variety of cruel and often hilarious ways before the lovely Julia is finally off to the rescue. Not before she inadvertently has phone sex with The Madman, resulting in one of the film’s most “NASTY!” inducing moments.
But what’s really amazing is how the movie was made. A Cannon XL2 DV camera was all the filmmaker had to create the movie, but I’ll be damned if that shows in a single frame of On Evil Grounds. I mean, it looks crisp and clean, sure, but it also looks like it was shot on film. That just goes to show the power of a highly skilled post-production team (which in this case I believe consisted of the editor and director) and that you don’t have to look like you shot it on DV just because you did, even if you’re shooting in a country that’s not friendly to horror or comedy.
Though not horror in the purest sense, On Evil Grounds is aware of itself enough to buck the conventions that come along with the subgenre of survival horror, which is the only way I can really describe what it turns into once Julia shows up, and showcases some fantastic new talent that I hope get a lot more work down the road.
At the time of this writing no one’s picked up On Evil Grounds for distribution, but I can hope that word of mouth will spread rapidly enough so you guys don’t have to wait too long to check it out.
3 1/2 out of 5
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