Saturday, July 15, 2017

The Evil in Us is Drug Fuelled: A Film Review

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Tagline: "Worst. Trip. Ever."

Director/writer: Jason William Lee.

Cast: Debs Howard, Danny Zaporozan, Ian Collins and Behtash Fazlali.

The Evil in Us is a drug fuelled thriller, from director Jason William Lee. Loosely based on the Bath Salts' incidents in 2012, the film envisions a world gone awry and chaotically altered by genetically enhanced cocaine. This title was released in Canada this past June, via Raven Banner Entertainment and in the United States, on July 4th - by Image Entertainment. The film follows a few cliches, in its writing structure. Never go camping in a horror film. Still, the material is fresh here, mostly thanks to Lee's competent use of the camera. There is always something happening onscreen. And, the visual sphere offers lots of different shooting techniques. Also, there is a positive moral message, in the film. Don't use drugs folks. This message is delivered through: action, conflict and even through the protagonist's choices. There is a lot to like in this action thriller and horror fans should ingest the chaos.

It would be best to do away with the negatives, first. Writer Lee utilizes a few, repetitive scenarios, often found in the indie horror genre. Several friends gather at a remote location. Here, they party into the night, until a creature or conflict is entered into the mix. This long time reviewer has seen this setup hundreds of times. This plot structure serves a couple of purposes. By setting the film in an isolated locale, shooting and filming costs are reduced. It is much more difficult to shoot on city streets. It is no easy task to receive shooting permits, within cities compared to without. Also, isolated locales make it difficult for characters to escape. Where are you going to run to on an island? Characters are forced to deal with whatever the conflict or issue is, because there is no help nearby. Still, this viewer was hoping for more than the typical camping-gone-wrong scenario.

The story still offers a surprise or two, though. The film begins with a very blood scene. Two characters look chewed to bits. Another barely survives with a terrible leg wound. From here, the film vacillates between two stories: one involves underground drug experiments and the other has been mentioned above. These two stories share the screen, but the camping scenario is more forefront. Near the campfire, six friends drink "happy juice," while partying into the late night hours. There is something in the white powder. Soon, characters are losing their minds and turning towards paranoia. This is one bad trip. And, only one character has not been influenced by the drug. Always say no to the powder, folks.

Meanwhile, all of the action is well shot. Lee uses various directing techniques to film the action. Medium and long shots are used for transitions. The change from scene to scene and from scenario to scenario is fluid. Also, there is a lot of night shooting, within The Evil in Us. Even action shots are shot at night. For instance, late in the film, Brie (Debs Howard) is running from a manic character. A medium shot is used to show the chase, until Brie takes a cool dip, in the nearby lake. The camera and the director are constantly changing the shot as needed by the scene. Thankfully, there are no extreme close-ups, here. Still, Lee and cinematographer Cole Graham capture the characters' emotions. It is just nice to not have the camera smashed up into someone's face. The shooting style is diverse and there is complex action onscreen, consistently.

There is also a positive moral message in the film. Outside of the don't use drugs slogan, there is this anti-hedonistic message. With the decline of religion in the West, there are few moral rules for young adults, or adults in general. It is mostly a laissez-faire approach to interactions, leaning to the hedonistic. It is enjoy the day and forget tomorrow. But, this path has consequences. The filmmakers have one morally good character in the film, Brie; she is also the protagonist. She does not partake in any of the drug use and she does not tolerate dishonesty. In one scene, she tells her boyfriend, Steve (Danny Zaporozan): "don't lie to me." An argument takes place over whether Steve has used drugs or not. Coincidentally, Brie is one of the only characters to survive all of the murder. She is also the only character to make positive moral choices. And, it good to see a character making positive choices, rather than succumbing to the usual hedonistic nature, that influences much of Western society.

The Evil in Us is available, in Canada, only at Walmart. Though, Walmart is only shipping stock from their main shipping centres. This film is not available at Walmart retail stores and can only be ordered online. This is not good for horror film collectors as the online price is steeply inflated. Purchasing options are more diverse in the United States. Still, this movie is definitely worth seeking out. The story and its conflict are realistically developed. The camping gone wrong scenarios is a bit overplayed. The Evil in Us does offer a bit of complexity, from behind the camera. There are multiple layers to most shots. The action is consistently kinetic. A late anti-conservative message is weakly set-up. But, this viewer enjoyed the positive moral message. There is more to life, than the black hole of nihilism. The film possibly sets up a sequel and this viewer would like to see what these filmmakers come up with next. Let The Evil in Us takes a bite out of you and you should enjoy the well shot blood splatter onscreen.

Overall: 7.25 out of 10.

A trailer for the film is available here: A The Evil in Us Trailer on 28DLA

More film details at Sandcastle Pictures: The Evil in Us at Sandcastle Pictures

Also from Raven Banner Ent. (Galaxy of Horrors, VOD):

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