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Evil Things


What 'Evil' lurks in the heart of man? Roll the tape!

Rod Lott July 5th, 2011

Hope you like found-footage movies, because the enormous return on a minuscule budget in the cases of two "Paranormal Activity" entries will guarantee many more. One of the latest, although skipping theaters, is "Evil Things."

evilthings

Unlike the knock-offs that followed in "Blair Witch"'s wake a decade ago ("The St. Francisville Experiment," anyone?), the new crop realizes there's more to the subgenre than merely tweaking the title. (Well, everyone but The Asylum and their "Paranormal Entity.")

In first-time writer/director Dominic Perez's "Evil Things," five college students (whose actors are largely as green as he) embark on a snowy road trip to the in-the-woods country home of one of their aunts for a weekend birthday bash, and never, ever return.

Them being among the Wired Generation, they naturally tape the entire damn thing, so we can see what happened to them. For a while, that's not a lot, giving us time to get to know them. While they're naive as so many collegians are wont, the characters are not donkey-braying annoying as is usually the case with these features.

Their first brush with trouble comes while driving to their destination, in a "Duel"-style incident of road rage where their opponent apparently follows them to a diner where they stop to eat. Of course, that person eventually shows up at the house after they do; otherwise, there'd be no movie.

Going in with no expectations, I was pleasantly surprised at how effective it is. That's not to say it's really scary so much as it is compelling. Events unfold at a realistic pace, the kids' terror seems utterly genuine, and it doesn't devolve into torture porn or anything; in fact, it hews to the theory your mind will make up images more frightening than Perez could conjure for the camera.

The ending is near-perfect, but then Perez allows the tapes to keep unspooling for chances at more chills. It diminishes the effect only slightly. —Rod Lott


 
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