Reviewed by The Foywonder
Starring Valery Nikolaev, Yevgenia Kryukova, Lembit Ulfsak, Arnis Lititcis
Directed by Oleg Fesenko
Distributed by The Asylum
Evil is actually a supernatural thriller from Russia that The Asylum picked up the American rights to, changed the title simply to Evil, and released it under their Christian-baiting sub-label Faith Films. Evil is a story purported to be about finding faith and on that front it succeeded; I know as I watched all 75-minutes of this boring film I was asking the Lord to give me the strength to finish it.
Talk about a slow moving film. I can almost hear Yakov Smirnoff doing his comedy routine; “In America the movies are very fast paced. In Russia, we didn’t even have pacing. What a country!”
Credit where it’d due, Evil is a great looking movie. The lighting, the art direction: both dripping with gothic atmosphere.
Then came the realization that this gothic countryside community that looked Eastern European was actually supposed to be a small town in America. This was a tad perplexing at first but then I stopped caring one way or another.
This film dies a painful death the moment the first line of dialogue is spoken and we’re get to hear how truly terrible the English dubbing is. I haven’t heard dubbing this poor since the English dubbed films that came out of Hong Kong back when the British still controlled the territory. Every word is spoken by the dubber – not acted… spoken. Every word sounds phony. Even when the lead actor is supposed to be screaming in terror it just sounds like the dubber is speaking louder. The dubbing alone kills the movie.
But then the question becomes, would good dubbing have been able to save the film? Doubtful.
Reporter Ivan Berkhoff ends up stuck in a small town plagued by evil forces. Everyone in the town behaves as you would expect characters in a creepy town infested with ancient evil would; decrepit old hag, suspicious cops, and locals who are either unfriendly or hopeful that this outsider can deliver them from evil. My favorite townsperson was the rambling old man if only because he looked a bit like “Quint” from Jaws. None of these people say or do anything of interest and that goes double for the lead character.
Contrivance leads to Berkhoff being mistaken for a priest, a role he’s willing to play. The sheriff’s busty daughter had died after being attacked and the mourning papa tells the fake priest that she very much wanted a priest to pray over body for three nights. This gives Berkhoff an excuse to hang around inside the creepy old church each night where a sultry succubus keeps trying to take his soul before sunrise. The evil might have prevailed if she hadn’t waited until 90-seconds before the sun rose to make her move.
If I may steal a concept from Joe Bob Briggs, a drive-in movie award nomination goes out to that rooster that was always there ready to cock-a-doodle-doo the moment dawn broke effective signaling the end of play like a football referee.
Can Ivan Berkhoff find true faith by the third night before he loses his soul? What do you think? Despite being marketed as a Christian flick Evil really isn’t a particularly religious film, just another supernatural thriller about a non-believer facing an absolute evil unable to defeat the evil until he becomes a believer.
Visual look of the film aside, there isn’t a single suspenseful moment in the film. Not a single scare unless bats fluttering about or CGI demon faces make you wet your pants. A complete failure on the horror movie side. Even the religious side of the story rings more hollow than an invisible Kevin Bacon.
After suffering through the tedium that was X-Files: I Want to Believe, I just don’t think I was ready for yet another snooze-inducing movie involving the paranormal, dry discussions of faith, and Russians.
The only DVD extra is a making of segment that’s really just a series of interviews with the filmmakers and stars that’s even worse dubbed than the movie. We hear the same monotone male voice droning on regardless of whether or not the person we see on the screen moving their mouth is male or female. All anybody seemed to talk about was how important it was to make a movie they could sell to American audiences. At least someone’s prayers got answered.
1 out of 5
1/2 out of 5