Those post-event sequences depict police detectives (played by The Barrens‘ Stephen Moyer and Olympus Has Fallen‘s Radha Mitchell) performing forensics on several sources of video captured at the scene of a fatal explosion in the Nevada desert.
Whether culled from a camcorder or smartphone, that video makes up a majority of the film, following a number of passengers on a bus that is sabotaged by barbed wire on an out-of-the-way road. At an abandoned gas station nearby, the beaten-up passengers are menaced by a welder, complete with mask. That’s right: Instead of a machete, this maniac wields a welding tool. Flame on!
Every so often, the video stops so Moyer, Mitchell and company can go all CSI on it to sniff out clues. You know the drill: “Stop! See that? Go back three frames! Zoom in there! Now sharpen that batch of pixels by 450 percent! Perfect! We got ’em!” Part of the fun of Evidence is seeing if you can determine what will become a clue before it’s presented as such.
Since the tapes are the driving force, Olatunde Osunsanmi — who dabbled in found footage the sci-fi way in his previous movie, 2009’s The Fourth Kind — doesn’t get many chances to wow with his direction, so he goes all out in the opening shot, in which the camera swoops down from the skies to survey the crime scene frozen in time, but seemingly popping in three dimensions. It’s overtly showy, but sets the mood perfectly; Evidence is a puzzle film that invites viewers to play along.
It’s also a thriller that shifts into slasher mode at select points. Since a welder is at work, perhaps “scorcher” is a better word than “slasher”? Either way, RLJ Entertainment has a potential sleeper on its hands here. Too bad Osunsanmi had to resort to the dreaded “Saw ending” and that RLJ failed to tap screenwriter John Swetnam’s 2001 short for inclusion and comparison. I really like this feature-length version of Evidence, but I’m curious to see what about the 20-minute original merited the expansion. —Rod Lott
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