Grimmfest 2016 kicked off last night and after two dark and disturbing features (LET ME MAKE YOU A MARTYR and BROKEN) it was time to end the night with something lighter, ANOTHER EVIL, that is best surmised as THE EXORCIST by way of CLERKS with a hint of THE CABLE GUY.
The story is that of the Papadikas family, who discover their holiday home is haunted by a pair of mischievous spirits. An initial investigation declares the ghosts to be ‘harmless’ and that having them as unwitting houseguests should be seen as a blessing. Dan, the pater and painter of the family, doesn’t see it that way and brings in a secondary consultant behind his wife’s back. Enter one Os Bijourn, a ghost killer, and someone who brings more baggage than just his box of exorcism tricks with him
Every clip of the film I’d seen focused on the characters and the dialogue, which gave me a real Kevin Smith vibe. This is particularly true of exchanges between Dan and his art dealer/agent at the start of the film. The casual salty language and camera cuts could be taken directly from an exchange between Dante and Randall in CLERKS. The performances from the two main leads are strong. Dan Papadakis (Steve Zissis) plays someone who is essentially good natured and just wants to get on with his life and work. His biggest strengths are when playing opposite Os Bijourn (Mark Proksch) as the ghost hunting exercise unfolds. Mark Proksch does an amazing job at making the smallest frowns, twitches and meaningful and brings a character to the screen that is somewhat lonely, unadjusted but incredibly righteous and focused on what he must do. Even when he’s carrying out acts that unnerve or outright frighten Dan he is not doing so because he wishes to alarm, he just wants to help someone he considers his friend.
The ghosts are portrayed and realised well, mostly kept to brief glimpses and soft backgrounds. Whilst they are the driving force behind the story they are not the focal point. Their appearance is used for a number of jump scares that mostly land, and at the very least always serves to further the storyline. The cinematography is decent, but as so much of the film revolves around conversation doesn’t really get cause nor need to do anything that might raise its profile. The same can be said of the sound design, and whilst it may sound damning with faint praise the entire production is competent.
The biggest issue that faces ANOTHER EVIL is that whilst it trades off of low key comedy in a horror trapping, something things are too low key, and therefore when a situation escalates it can feel a little forced or reactionary. One thing that sticks in my mind is the placement of the opening titles. The cutting point for the cold open to the credits feels a little off key, and I can’t work out if this was a deliberate move or bad judgement. The same can be said of the end credits as well, with a somewhat unsatisfactory cut off point. On one level it could make me want to know more (there were many unanswered questions, about Os in particular), but on another it could somewhat feel like ‘and that’s where we ran out of money, folks’.
This marks writer/director Carson Mell’s feature debut, however he may have been better served carrying this idea into a long-short form. Whilst its runtime is a brief 90 minutes, it could have potentially run a little shorter and been packed a little tighter. Alternatively, a couple of extra hits at the end of the second act to highlight the tonal shift would have helped provide reinforcement to the movie and clarity of identity moving forward. I am really excited to see what he does next, especially if it’s in the horror/supernatural realm.
It is a recommend, but not a strong one. See it if you get the chance, but only if you like expositional character pieces with a side of supernatural horror. I’m certain it’ll find a strong home on the VOD/Streaming market.