Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Evidence (2013) - Burning White Hot Kills to Make You Cringe

Evidence surprised the pants off of me! The cover art was typical new release fodder. An image of the stars with a somewhat shocking split revealing something to tantalize you at the bottom. In this case we have an image of a person in a welders mask and protective gear with torch stoked. Stephen Moyer of True Blood and Barrens fame is listed as the star alongside Rhada Mitchell who has performed in a few horror related works herself (Pitch Black and Silent Hill to name two). It is being sold as a thriller. A mystery. A horror picture though I can say that this last bit is only an after thought when I read through the press release. Evidence is a horror picture. It is will creep you out and hopefully unnerve you. Is effective and while not perfect, it has a power. It had my eyes open wide, jaw dropped and ass clenched. That probably means you should watch it. 

Synopsis from Image Entertainment:

EVIDENCE tells the story of a team of detectives (Moyer, Mitchell) trying to piece together what happened at the site of a brutal massacre using a number of recording devices found at the crime scene. The footage reveals a group of bus passengers who were forced to fight for their lives after they crash in the middle of the desert and a mysterious killer violently murders them one by one.

So yeah, it's a thriller, and you certainly are going to want to try and figure out who's the big bad killer behind the welder's mask. That's a given. What you won't suspect is the brutality you'll feel through the found footage lens of the director as he reveals murders that you'll feel under your skin. Ever watch someone get cut up with a torch? It's not the most common murder in a horror film. Sure, you might see people burned alive, covered in gasoline, set on fire, maybe even cooked in an oven, but cut apart with a torch... I haven't felt anything quite this visceral or tactile since perhaps the soldering iron torture in Exterminator. Maybe I'm reminded of Exteriminator, the exploitation classic from 1980, due solely to the wearing of protective flame gear, but it was in my head the whole time. The image of person wearing fairly normal protective gear acting violently is a good recipe to disturb; maybe more than killers who wear specially crafted masks and Halloween get up.  For all the brutality I claim it has, I really don't think there's all that much on screen blood. It's carefully hidden in the shadows and buried just out of camera reach. Very smart. Show less. Make the audience imagine more. That's good horror. Using loud, ear piercing flame sound as a scare tactic works extremely well. Haunting even. 

The wrap story surrounding the found footage which must be examined and decoded by the crack team of detectives featuring Moyer and Mitchell is the weak link. I suppose you can chock that up to being a vehicle for the carnage-filled shock sequences. Just stick with it even though the mystery isn't worthy of the Usual Suspects level praise, it's still fun to try to figure out who the baddie is. I don't think the detective work ruins the picture and performances are in line with what a TV audience would expect from a cop drama though I'm not entirely sure the average CSI audience is ready for Evidence. 

So when you watch Evidence really focus on the Evidence. The found footage. It doesn't suffer from excessive camera shake and is high quality though I grew tired of the choppy, electro glitches (I suppose that's all part of the storytelling though). You won't feel nauseous, and it doesn't look like it was shot by an amateur filmmaker who had no time or budget to create solid still images. Olatunde Osunsanmi directed The Fourth Kind. In my mind that meant he had a lot of making up to do for perpetrating sour found footage on us all. That's just me though. I know plenty of folks who loved his fresh take on storytelling using the found footage style. Evidence makes up for The Fourth Kind and even makes me want to give that film a second chance. Maybe I wasn't ready for it. Maybe I had watched Paranormal Activity one too many times and then viewed it on the coattails of a solid found footage picture like Atrocious. Regardless, Osunsanmi created a solid piece of narrative within the shooting style even if the wrap story seems a bit forced and extra-super produced (like an episode of Law and Order... maybe that was the point). 

Evidence is a dark movie. It has some great kills, good storytelling and will entertain you if you can stomach its brutality. You can pick it up now on DVD and Blu-ray at the link below. 


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