Sunday, October 31, 2010

Horror Film Review

Evil (2005):  Zombie flick!  And the first one, I'm told, to come out of Greece.  Yes, there are subtitles (deal with it).  This film is quirky and odd, but at the same time, it follows in the footsteps of almost every other zombie flick out there.  It's nothing you haven't seen before, however, you've never seen anything like it.  I wasn't exactly expecting Sophocles, but I certainly wasn't expecting what I got.

So three men unearth the entrance to a hidden cave.  Inside, they hear a strange sound, get freaked out, and turn to leave.  The scene fades to black when they start screaming.  Jump to the three guys each in a different place:  one's at home with his wife and kids, one's at a stadium watching a football game (soccer), and the last is at a disco with his uptight girlfriend.  At the exact same moment, all three start talking about the cave and how they can't remember what happened.  Suddenly, they begin coughing and shaking and their eyes go all funny.  Next thing you know, they're snacking on the person closest to them.  Now, what's different from the normal zombie flick is what happens next.  Literally seconds after someone is bitten, they're a zombie, too.  So there's no wondering if someone in your group got nipped, no need to worry they'll turn while you're dozing or taking a leak.  The problem with that is the loss of a classic tension device.  No matter.  Evil makes up for it in other ways.

The group of survivors that end up together include the daughter of the first guy and her female neighbor, the bitchy girlfriend of one of the other guys along with her cabbie and someone they picked up on the run, and two military-types.  There are a few other throw-away characters that, now I think about it, really were pointless.  Anyway, the fight scenes are over the top and a bit silly (roundhouse kick to the head results in decapitation) but also creative.  This movie is quite violent and gory.  That said, I'm pleased the filmmakers chose restraint when the daughter returned home to look for her four year-old brother only to find her zombified father in her brother's room.  The body of the child wasn't shown, just his sister's reaction.  Smart choice because it made the moment more powerful. 

This film has three aspects to it you won't find in a typical American zombie offering.  First, its use of split screen.  It kicked in during the first chase scene when the daughter of first guy took off with a neighbor woman and then was used off and on throughout the film.  I've always liked split screens.  It enhances the feeling of chaos and urgency.  The second aspect is the music.  It's weird and creepy and nothing like I've ever heard.  It was distracting in the beginning but then started to make sense and complement the action.  And third, the camera work is not out of the Hollywood handbook.  Close up, handheld filming really puts you in the thick of it while the use of odd perspectives in other shots tends to keep you off balance.  Effective.


Acting:  Pretty impressive.  It is a zombie flick so you can't expect Oscar nominations. 
Story:  Like I said, its not Sophocles, but just your basic survivors on the run tale. 
Direction:  The film is put together fairly well, and with an 83 minute running time, it doesn't overstay its welcome.
Production ValuesEvil doesn't have the feel of a low-budget film but there are little things that let you know it is.  If you're expecting shots of massing zombie hordes converging on the Parthenon, you'll be disappointed. 
Gore:  Plenty, but not ridiculous. 
Ending:  Not what I was expecting.  The final shot is impressive and probably ate up half the film's budget. 
Verdict:  Should you see it?  If you're a fan of zombie movies, you betcha.  Greek horror...who knew?  I wonder how many other countries are producing good scary movies that I don't know about.

Rating:  3 out of 5

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