Another Amazon Prime Movie Review!Evil Remains
Verdict: * 1/2
(thanks to +steph wanamaker
for asking me to review this one! I believe our friends over at +Soiled Restroom Cinema
are going to be podcasting about it soon enough! See below posts for more!)
Twenty years ago.
Someone had a shaky video camera!
(cue shrieking violin)
Yes, my friends. The opening minutes of Evil Remains
is nothing but someone on a bus with a camera pointed out the dusty window watching the Southern Louisiana bayou go by while PowerPoint style credits fade in and out, and ominous breathy music plays. This sets the stage for some major slashaliciousness, which is awesome if you’re into this kind of thing.
After we go on a trip through about ten miles of Louisiana backwoods, the story opens when a teenager murders his two parents in a cursed house on cursed property near New Orleans. Everyone blamed the curse, of course, and the murderer just disappeared. Wait. What? True Detective,
this obviously ain’t.
Anyway, twenty years later, a group of hottie college kids are all playing cards at a house party that is so poorly lit the cameraman has to stick the lens right under their noses Blair Witch
style just to see their expressions as they talk and laugh and get drunk and say the F dash dash dash
word with every sentence. Sooner or later, five of them decided to road trip it up to the cursed house on the cursed property to spend the day, in support of their friend who is writing his thesis on the history of the place.
The group of friends consists of the usual slasher stereotypes: Mark, the intelligent one (Daniel Gillies), is writing the thesis. His friend since childhood (and possible boyfriend but it’s never really said) Tyler (Clayne Crawford) is a very studious person who is grounded in reality and doesn’t waste words. Eric (Jeff Davis, one of my all time favorite Who’s Line Is It Anyway
comics) is the funny one and interjects jokes nearly every time he shows up on screen to the point where he is annoying everyone. I’m reminded of Ryan Reynolds’ extremely irritating Hannibal King from Blade Trinity
when I see him. Then, of course, there are the two insanely hot lesbians Kristy and Sharon (Estella Warren and Ashley Scott) who never really make out on screen… and just my opinion, but if insanely hot lesbians do not make out in a slasher flick, there’s really no reason to have insanely hot lesbians in a slasher flick.
Where was I? Oh yes… the students hit the road to the house to spend some time there. This is, of course, without stopping for donuts or getting any permission from the property owner or even considering that the murderer from twenty years ago might still be hanging around. Throwing caution to the wind, the students laugh and banter and hang bare feet out the VW van window and follow the map to the place. Honestly, I love banter. This scene was actually kind of cool and it made me wonder why the movie didn’t just surround the road trip. I would have enjoyed about another half hour of this much more than the movie the way it was done.
It doesn’t matter, because all too soon the trip ends and they arrive at the spooky house. Sneaking around the house and exploring the property, the students slowly do their ghost hunting thing… shooting photography and recording sound with a boom mic. And as they explore, they unfold their individual personalities and reveal a much deeper friendship between all of them than I wasn’t used to seeing in this type of movie. Like I said, I like banter and dialogue and this movie has plenty of that. Most slasher flicks don’t and fans of the genre will be bored with the constant back n-forth between everyone. Since I’m not a fan of slashers, I found the dialogue rewarding.
Speaking of… the script seems to have been improvised by the talents on screen. That or the script writers really knew how to bring out character development and should have a nice career in Hollywood ahead of them. The expansion on (at least) a couple of the characters through simple dialogue itself was disarming. I enjoyed just listening to them all talk, reveal their histories and bat ideas around. But again, I’m not a fan of slashers so I found that nice. Slasher fans will hate it!
However, the movie’s dialogue was slashed, as it were, by the onslaughter of the bad guy and the students I’d come to enjoy listening to start getting iced right and left for no other reason than they were just there. [cue slasher fans’ rejoicing!] Then there’s a twist that I saw coming, but only because I’d seen the same twist in so many other slasher flicks. All in all, this is the same slasher flick you’ve seen over and over from about 1960 on. [more slasher fans’ rejoicing!]
The long and the short of it is, for this reviewer, I found this movie to be very well supported by actors who took it a little too seriously. Everyone on set gave it their level best as if there were awards in consideration this year. I say “level best” in as much as a crummy slasher flick can give. This definitely wasn’t Shawshank Redemption
caliber acting, but it was decent. However, the movie’s camerawork made Cloverfield
look like CSPAN and its lighting was done by film students who haven’t graduated yet. There were entire shots in this movie that would have been more appealing if they’d been done in complete darkness. The budget for cinematography in Evil Remains
seems to have been blown entirely on the cast, what with the likes of Jeff Davis and Kurtwood Smith (Eric’s Dad from That 70’s Show).
What offsets this slasher flick from practically every other slasher flick is that the actors bring their A-game so well to their roles, the character development is astoundingly deep for a slasher movie when you know every one of them is about to get whacked with a chainsaw or a pair of gardening shears. Which then, when the inevitable happens and teens start dropping, makes it all the more depressing because I had become somewhat emotionally involved in their individual stories.
All in all, a nice low budget popcorner to get laid by at the drive in but not one I’d keep in my Amazon Prime library. #JasonsMovieReviews #EvilRemains