"And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up which were in them; and they were judged every man according to their works" - this Biblical tosh opens proceedings, but fear not: this is not a heavy philosophical piece ...

A sun-kissed Army research base in a remote Iraqi desert dwelling is the scene of an intense bloodbath during the pre-credits opening, with men turning on each other to literally eat each other alive.

With the colourful opening titles out of the way, we then shift over to America where we meet Darren (Eric Peter-Kaiser), a geeky looking Army scientist who survived the above trauma one month earlier.

Bespectacled Darren moves into a small apartment to continue his research on the reason for the aforementioned bloodbath: a red fluid developed by the U.S. Army as a form of biological warfare, which has been proven to have the unfortunate effect of transforming those exposed to it into zombie-like cannibals.

While being shown around his new tenement home by the creepy landlord (Nathan Bexton), Darren realises it has a perfect basement for him to continue his research in secrecy. An added bonus is his lovely neighbour Madeline (Sandra Ramirez), who he first encounters on her return from the laundry room.

Trying to keep his affairs to himself proves difficult for Darren, especially when he quickly gains unwanted attention from local wannabe gangstas Killah-B (Guillermo Diaz), Asia Mark (James Duval) and Random (Noel Gugliemi). Or Curtis, Steve and Ben, as Madeline soon reveals them to be.

Madeline earns herself an invite into Darren's pad after saving him from an altercation with the gangsta trio, and a mutual appreciation soon develops.

While two Army bigwigs mull over a video document of the Iraqi bloodbath and determine to find Darren's whereabouts in a bid to stop him from "unleashing Hell on Earth", our calm scientist busies himself with romancing Madeline over a candlelit dinner - and developing his toxin, using his gangsta foes as guinea pigs ...

Throw in some peripheral characters such as the local junkie (Billy Morrison) and comely blonde Nikki (Katie Cazorla), and the film provides plenty of characters ripe for infection ... and for being cannibalised.

EVILUTION looks fantastic. Shot on two HD cameras, it's got an extremely polished and clean sheen to it, basking in near-sepia scenes at times. At other times, primary colours are used to good effect in a successful attempt to make the film look as striking as possible. Glossy and light, EVILUTION aesthetically transcends it's low budget origins.

Performances are strong while Brian Patrick O'Toole's script gets away with its dafter moments by being knowingly absurd. The in-jokes work, the banter of the characters is funny without being forced (there is an unusual amount of investment in the lead characters) and the slowly building mood of hysteria is plausible in it's execution.

Director Chris Conlee falls into O'Toole's script and Mathew Rudenberg's luscious cinematography and finds that he really can do little wrong. To his end, he keeps the pace ticking over nicely and finds an acute balance between the humour and horror. He's also adept at eliciting tension when necessary, and even exhibits a good handle on providing good "jump" scenes.

The gore FX from Rochelle Kneisley are splashy and unapologetic, dishing up some great moments of cheap flesh-eating and splattered corpses. It may be some time between the gruesome opening and the next bout of gore, but when the red stuff finally shows up once more, it's as if Kneisley is making up for lost time.

Funny and gory, EVILUTION looks the business and has a likeable enthusiasm about it's nature. While bringing to mind the likes of THE RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD and RE-ANIMATOR, it unfortunately reveals itself as being short of equalling either of those films. But then, they are formidable comparisons to hope for. Conlee's film may fall short of being the next big zombie flick, but it is tremendous fun nevertheless.

EVILUTION is presented in a strong anamorphic 1.78:1 picture. Colours are bold and vivid, with the transfer holding up to director Conlee's stylish visual schemes well. Images are sharp and bright throughout, making this shot-on-HD film look very good indeed.

English audio is provided in a highly satisfactory 5.1 mix, offering good balance of channels. Bass is a tad light but overall the dialogue is mixed well against the energetic music and the audio is spread well enough to ensure it enhances the viewing pleasure to be had.

Animated menus include a scene-selection menu allowing access to the film via 15 chapters.

Extras begin with a good 26-minute Making Of featurette entitled "The Evolution Of Evilution". Conlee is our host while we walk through a succession of on-set reveals, witnessing plenty of interesting behind-the-scenes footage as the director speaks of how he was invited to the project, how wonderful his cast was and how one of the shooting locations was apparently haunted ...

Conlee's also on hand for an entertaining if repetitive commentary track. He's joined here by Peter-Kaiser (who also co-produced) and a very giggly Ramirez.

There is also a 1-minute trailer for the film that is too brief to do it real justice.

Also, a link to "BrinkDVD" leads to a very short teaser trailer for the intriguing-looking BASEMENT JACK.

Inside the packaging you'll find an 8-page catalogue that colourfully celebrates their agenda of distributing "micro budget" films. Other titles in their roster include CRAIG and THE DEADLY ART OF SURVIVAL.

EVILUTION is a surprisingly effective and good-looking film, offering an agreeable balance of aggressive humour and satisfying gore. Atmospheric and far better than it most likely ought to be, EVILUTION is well worth checking out. BrinkDVD's disc is a good showcase for the film.

Review by Stu Willis

Released by BRINKDVD
Region 1 - NTSC
Not Rated
Extras :
see main review