Today (August 9th 2011) is the quiet release of Evil Things, a film that employed many found-footage tropes long before they became mainstream. Being an independent film, Evil Things lacked the proper funding to be distributed and sat on the shelf for about 2 years. Now, with the success of Paranormal Activity, REC, Cloverfield, and Troll Hunter, Evil Things was able to be picked up and lightly distributed. Unfortunately, due to the large amount of similar films, I am afraid that Evil Things will get pushed to the wayside. I want to talk about my experience with Evil Things and then do a review of sorts.
About 2 years ago, when I started showing interest in horror films that were not mainstream, a friend of mine by the name of John Squires, brought me in a copy of a new found-footage film that he thought was better than most. I was only really aware of Blair Witch at the time (Paranormal Activity wasn’t out yet) and didn’t really know what type of experience I was going get. I went home and watched it in my darkened room. I was terrified, scared, and entertained. Sure it wasn’t big budget but it was still effective and well made.
Dominic Perez, the director and creator, was a wall street investment banker and dropped everything to go after his true calling. You can read all about his writing process at that link I attached to John’s name but Dominic was able to film the movie in a couple of weeks and the editing only took a month. Like many small found-footage films, it only takes a little bit of time and a little bit of money for a chance to get noticed.
Evil Things is about 5 college students who go missing after they went into the country to celebrate their friends 21st birthday. One of the friends is an aspiring filmmaker and decides to record their weekend adventure. They start being followed by an unmarked car for most of the drive to the country house but they think they eventually lose them after some dodging. Once they get to the house, the group of friends believe all is safe, until someone come knocking.
I really can’t describe much more without ruining it for you but I guess you already know the ending because “found-footage” alludes to the demise or disappearance of the characters. I want you to see it for yourself though, that is mainly the point of this post. A film like this does not rely on the ending to make a point or to have closure with the audience, it’s about scaring you and making you feel a bit violated.
I’m always put on edge by these types of film, I don’t know why but I can never help but feel scared. That sort of “POV” camera makes me feel like I’m one of the characters being terrorized. That may be the biggest strength of Evil Things, the full immersion of yourself with the characters. All of the students feel real and their dialogue has a ‘reality show’ feel to it. Not saying they’re trashy but more that there’s a natural cadence to the way the characters talk and the realism in dialogue that they bring to the table. The great progression of fear is something to note as well, with the mysterious car following the students around and the killer’s POV that makes for some interesting camera shots.
When the students go out for a walk in the woods, it becomes claustrophobic, the vastness of the woods and their panicked nature makes me tight in the throat. The killer is not even around which says something about Perez as a writer, that he was able to scare us without having the main focus of the film present (the killer). The aspect that I really liked in Evil Things is that it didn’t have anything paranormal about it. You might think so from the cover art, but Perez let’s the viewer know from the beginning that there’s someone following these kids and that person wants to harm them.
I don’t have any major complaints about the film, other than it’s noticeable that it’s low budget but that doesn’t distract me from my overall experience. Evil Things frightened me and it got me excited to watch similar films. I am afraid that this movie will be pushed aside because of all the bigger budget films but I hope this post helps Dominic out. If you haven’t seen it, pick up a copy. It may not blow you away but it’s a great entry into the genre. I hope Dominic will get some attention from Evil Thing’s “real” release and go on to create more great films. John Squires, who is the creator of Freddy In Space tried really hard to get this film noticed and was a key component in having many of the bigger sites review Evil Things. Though John never got recognition for his work (in writing), I’m doing it now. Thank you John Squires, you’re a gentleman and a scholar may your pen do more great work.