Evil Things (2009)
(15) Running time: 86 minutes
Reviewed by: Matt Wavish, official HCF critic
Evil Things is the latest in a long line of found footage ‘terror’; however one major factor concerned me. The fact the film was made in 2009, and only now it has been released on DVD gives a little hint that the film may not be all that good. Granted not all films that take their time to get released are rubbish, but it does leave a massive mark over the film and I probably should have paid more attention to those warnings because, sadly, Evil Things is not all that good, and this is coming from a massive fan of the found footage genre.
The plot is very basic; a group friend’s are invited to a massive country manor to celebrate Miriam’s (Mersdorf) 21st birthday. Her aunt has said they can use the house, and one of the guys decides to document the whole experience on his camera. After a rather intense build up, in fact, a very brilliant build up, things go downhill, fast. We meet the friends as they are about to set off on the long drive to the house in the country, the students leave Manahatten for this beautiful house surrounded by woods, mountains and snow. We see the group as they all get in the car and head off, excited and generally doing what friends do on a road trip. As they near their destination the weather changes and they are met with horrific snow, dark skies and icy roads, not the best driving conditions at all, and these conditions are put together very well by the filmmakers. No special effects here, this is blizzard conditions, and having driven in these sorts of conditions myself, I can tell you it aint no walk in the park!
The film takes on a creep and nasty edge as a van driver comes up behind them and decides to overtake. The friends make no gestures at the driver, but speak amongst themselves about how stupid he is doing in these open country roads and in these conditions. Every drivers worst nightmare happens when they driver slows right down, forcing the students to then overtake. I hate people who do this on the roads because suddenly it appears you want a race, when clearly you don’t, but it puts you in an awkward situation, and as they pass the van driver, suddenly the mood turns from excitement to a bit unsettled as this driver seems a bit, well, threatening. As the friends start to wonder exactly what it is they have done, the van speeds up and comes up right behind them beeping and flashing his lights. The students panic, beg for him to drive on and eventually he does, but they are scared. This part of the film really griped me, even had me on the edge of my seat and I thought to myself “wow, we’re in for a real treat here, I like this!!”
Sadly that is as good as it gets, with one more highlight at a roadside café, the film quickly loses all its momentum once we get to the house and the friends start to realise someone is stalking them. It becomes silly and incredibly desperate. The characters, bless them, do their best, and you do warm to them to start with, but once we get to the supposedly ‘real’ terror, they all become incredibly annoying. The sinister build up just falls apart, and every found footage cliché is used to guide you through an incredibly boring and un-scary horror with a ‘seen it all before’ climax. Hell, there is even a bizarre scene where they get lost in the woods and night falls. A branch snapping sets off all sorts of blind panic. Even a plot twist come the end which should have shocked but doesn’t, feels unnecessary. The biggest and most embarrassing flaw to Evil Things is the fact that all it does it bring together a sort of ‘best of’ bits from previous found footage horrors and try and make something good with them. It doesn’t work, and as I said before, the films comes across as desperate, a cheap rip off of other, better horrors in the genre. This is a lesson in how NOT to do found footage horror. It needs to have a little originality in it, and you must make your cast believable. The cast here scream at the top of their voices over the smallest of things, like a door slamming while one of them is in the other room. Granted it would be scary, but to get down on your knees and scream as if you had just lost everything is a bit much.
The cast over act, the shocks are not scary at all, and things happen which are expected and fail to deliver anything other than boredom. Had the film kept up its sinister momentum it showed so brilliantly at the start, this could have been added to my list of genre greats. Instead it lands on my trash pile, a film I never want to sit through again, a real shame and a wasted opportunity.