(15) Running time: 75 minutes
Director: Howie Askins
Writer: Ryan McCoy
Starring: Ryan McCoy, Brett Rosenberg, Abigail Richie, Ashley Bracken
Reviewed by: Matt Wavish, official HCF critic
I usually know a bit about the films I am watching before actually watching them, so normally I at least have a small idea what to expect. However, I watched the trailer for Evidence ages ago, and to be perfectly honest I had forgotten what it was about. All I knew was that it was a found footage horror that had received some very positive word of mouth. Going into a film blind is a rarity these days, but let me tell you, the best way to enjoy Evidence is to know as little about it as possible, so I will attempt to not give too much away here.
The basic premise is this: four friends head into the country for a few days away, and one of them wants to document the entire thing as a study on people camping and out of their comfort zones. The four main actors use their real names, with Ryan (Ryan McCoy, star and writer) being the man obsessed with filming (come on its a found footage flick, there is always the camera mad person or we wouldn’t have a film!), Brett (Brett Rosenberg) being his pal of ten years who would rather be somewhere else, and the female eye candy of Abi (Abigail Richie) who is Ryan’s girlfriend and Ashley (Ashley Bracken) who is Brett’s girlfriend. After a brief get to know who’s who we head off to the country in their camper van. Brett, already annoyed at the idea, is disgusted when he is told they are not staying in the luxury camper van. However, after setting up their tents and a few drinks later, he loosens up, and a lesbian kiss courtesy of the two girls calms his mood. However, strange noises in the night, and a bizarre bearded man looking for his dog unsettle the camp. The plan is to head back to the camper van first thing in the morning…
We have already seen a glimpse of a bush which played tricks on our eyes and suddenly got up and walked off, so it is clear something strange is happening here. All the campers claim the noises in the night are coyotes, but both they and we the viewer know this is not the case, and in a scene reminiscent of The Blair Witch Project, Abi’s tent is shook at night causing immense panic. Everyone becomes angry with Ryan, and after a scare on their night in the country, they decide to stay in the camper van, leave their tents and come back for them in the morning and then leave. As with all good horrors, this is not how things go down, and Brett goes missing. However I must point out that before this, everyone was happy to leave Ryan as he ran off chasing a noise in the night and the rest head back to the camper van, it is clear everyone would rather be somewhere else, except for the excited Ryan. Trees are found with messages carved into them saying chilling words like “what is that?” “did you hear that?” and “listen”. The tension mounts, and now with Brett missing you begin to wonder where this film will lead.
Ryan shows his true colours as he becomes very angry at the situation and screams at Ashley “get out of my way before I break this camera over your god damned face!!” Nice chap! In yet another scene which will remind you of The Blair Witch Project, he finds Brett’s shoe, but inside is leftover body parts, and poor old Ryan throws up. Now things really get interesting! To tell you anymore of the plot now would be stupid, but believe me I have not given anything away with what I have already said. Evidence builds to an almighty onslaught of scares and scenes you never imagined in your wildest dreams would turn up in a film like this. The cast are all outstanding, and give terrific performances which are believable and you actually care for them. The scares are expertly timed for maximum impact, and for a low budget film such as this, often the scares are cranked up to a highly professional level that you would expect to see from the big boys of horror. Evidence does live in The Blair Witch Projects shadow for the first half an hour, but once Evidence gets into its own territories it takes on a wonderful life all of its own.
The ideas on offer here are fantastic, and once you think you’ve seen everything this film is planning to throw at you, it adds something new to the story. Basically, Evidence’s last hour is one well timed scare after another, and the film gets more frightening and more violent as it moves on. The use of the handheld camera allows the filmmakers to expertly create moments of terror, like a genius scene involving a horse in a stable which not only made me jump, but also unsettled me for quite a while after. The film cleverly builds the mystery and suspense to almost unbearable levels, and as the pace becomes a relentless barrage of images on the viewer, you really do not know where this film will go next. Granted, it may have too many ideas and throws a little too much into the mix as it attempts to pay homage to just about every found footage film out there, but you cannot deny the filmmakers integrity. Also, being a found footage film, the camera annoyingly keeps either cutting off or getting damage interference as the frantic pace heightens, and I feel this could have been calmed down a bit.
However, there is no denying that Evidence is one of the finest, most interesting found footage horrors I have seen in ages. There are great ideas here, but most of all there is great talent, superb and flawless special effects and a real focus on scaring you shitless. Impressive!