12.14.2009

Evil Things (2009): Home Invasion Meets Found Footage



A creepy, well-executed story that leaves me with some questions.

I’m a fan of found footage films. I’m willing to concede to stretched rationale to continue filming and shaky footage has never bothered me—blame this on my fellow MTV-generation filmmakers or something. That said, I’m all for the style and greatly understand the appeal of the raw footage aesthetic. For the independent filmmaker, the growing popularity of found footage is good news. It offers a budget-friendly platform, where the focus lies heavily on performances and basic storytelling. Strong actors and a compelling story are essential. Otherwise, all you have is a You Tube video.


Evil Things has those two important ingredients. When a group of college-age friends decide to spend the weekend at on isolated mountain house for a birthday, their goodtime is quickly transformed into a nightmare. All of the young actors are natural, funny, and refreshingly “normal” looking. Oh my goodness, there’s even someone with braces and she’s not portrayed as the Milhouse of the neighborhood. The actors appear more comfortable with another as the film continues, so I suspect that the movie may have been shot in rough chronological order. There are only a few clumsy moments of performance early on. Regardless, these feel like real people and I genuinely cared for them, as the events began to escalate. I was surprised by the great deal of tension that amounted from subtle occurrences—occurrences which turn from odd to coincidental to disturbing. The final push into the climax is one my favorites scenes in recent memory. However, the rising action is so effective, that I feel the final act was underwhelming. In Blair Witch tradition, we aren’t privileged with as much information and as many sights as we hope for.


My biggest (and for the most part, only) issue with Evil Things is the amount of unanswered questions as a result of the sparse conclusion. It is not only the who and the why that are left hanging on the tongue, but there is no visual reveal of the perpetrator. Nor is there a reveal of the manner of dispatching the young adults and what he/she does with the victims. For some people, ambiguity is more frightening, but I prefer some form of a revelation.

I am also curious about the choice of aesthetic. Aside from budgetary concerns, I want to know why director Dominic Perez chose found footage. I can’t help but wonder if a traditional style of filmmaking might have been more effective for this chilling story. Home invasions films get to me more easily than others, but I felt Evil Things fell a tad short of pushing the scares over the top and I think the found footage aspect of it may have hindered the climactic departing moments. In the end, though, if found footage is what allowed this movie to become a practical reality, then the more power to Perez for seizing the opportunity.


I’m hoping the best for Evil Things. It’s a worthy film searching for distribution and some good buzz. It deserves a release, so I’m doing my part to spread the news. Many thanks to Dominic Perez himself for sending the screeners in an amusing package. Go to I Like Horror Movies and check out Carl’s review for a detailed description. I’d also like to give Johnny from Freddy in Space a shout out for hooking me (and many others) up with a screener though Perez. I’m glad he did, because it was a lot of fun!

8 comments:

  1. Just received a screener of this myself in the mail. Haven't had a chance to watch it yet, but I was especially impressed with the "Department of Justice" front that the package came with. My wife saw the envelope addressed from the DoJ, and was understandably concerned about what I had gotten myself into this time. I have to admit that I didn't read the full review you gave it (I wanted to go into this one 'fresh'), but I'll come back after I see it to check out your thoughts.

    --J/Metro

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  2. I saw this at the same time Johnny at Freddy in Space saw it (wow June 1st)

    I'm glad it got out to all the horror bloggers. If you watched it before Paranormal Activity,(it came out before PA) it is kinda eerie and effective in some ways, part hand held craziness part home invasion.

    Its a good effort and I agree with everything in your review.

    2 and half spins in my book.

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  3. PA has renewed my faith in found footage films, so this one definitely seems like it's worth a look when it gets distribution. But your description of the final act/lack of revelations seems like it might be disappointing in the end. Like the journey is better than what is at the end of the film. Am I right?

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  4. Just got my screener today and watched it with the wife. I still have to write my review, but right now I'd say there's a really good film in there waiting for the right edit to come out.

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  5. Jaded-Cool, I'll check out your post. :D

    Geof-Yeah that's the case here (at least for me), but it's still a great little film.

    Mike-I'll be checking out your thoughts when you review it.

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  6. Just got my copy too (much thanks to Johnny who's passing this around like a case of herpes). Can't wait to see it.

    Oh, and the packaging, THAT's how you market a film. Props to however came up with it.

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  7. Becks THANK YOU for touching on the girl with the braces, I was going to note this when addressing the realistic appeal of the actors but I have to say that this is one of the ingredients that I find to be liberating in the found footage films. Even in PA, the characters were people, not actors. Great point!

    I am on the other side of the spectrum and love the fact that nothing is revealed, its a very bold move on Perez' behalf and one that not many will agree with, but I think it is genius. Falls in line with my love of BLACK CHRISTMAS!

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  8. Wow, a horror movie with believable characters that actually elicit emotion from the viewer? I'll have to check it out!

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