From Blair Witch through to the Paranormal Activity franchise, there is no shortage of handycam POV style Horror movies around. EVIL THINGS is the latest addition to this dubious sub-genre and anyone simply dismissing it as another amateur slice of tedium, prepare to have your yawn abruptly curtailed...

The movie is pitched as a piece of videotape evidence from the offset, all courtesy of Leo and his rather overzealous use of his new video camera. He is accompanied by 4 of his friends from New York, Miriam, Mark, Tanya and Cassandra. They decide to leave the city behind for a weekend to celebrate Miriamís 21st birthday at her auntís roomy house. The trip is a few hoursí drive along some snow laden, winding rural roads. But the awe in which they take in the winter scenery soon is beset by a few little dramas. Firstly, Tanya experiences some car sickness on the gruelling journey. Then, as dusk gives way to darkness, they are harassed by a menacing black van, which seems intent on adding to the danger on the treacherous roads.

When enough miles have been devoured along their route, the group stop for a meal of their own at a homely diner. But they are soon faced with the realisation that this trip, if remembered at all, will not be for happy reasons...

I have left the synopsis as brief as possible as anymore revelations of the narrative would rob a potential audience of the unnerving viewing experience EVIL THINGS offers. I felt director Dominic Perez had struck the perfect balance of mundane tomfoolery on which to lay some really well worked shocks. It retains its unsettling atmosphere throughout which serves to justify the protagonistís collective paranoia.

While it could be argued that the film dawdles a little on the groups dialogue after a few beers, which does little to move the narrative forward, it does at least allow us to know the characters a little better. I felt they were a believable bunch, annoying at times yes, but in a genuine way, not in a teen stereotyped manner. The unpredictability of their plight was a disturbingly realistic blend of tension and relief that had yours truly hooked.

There is the odd irregularity that could just about be forgiven. Such as, why Perez opted to use the odd sample of ancillary music to augment the anxiety when this was all supposedly film on Leoís camera? Maybe it did serve to enhance the ominous atmosphere but I would have preferred a little more consistency, especially as this was supposed to be FBI evidence!

The picture quality is great and is holds a delicate poise between looking like a movie in 1.78:1 widescreen while also coming across as a genuine amateur experiment. I had no problems with the sound, considering the amount of chatting the group get through, everything came across clear and audible.

The main flaw with the movie, however, was the ending. Sometimes ambiguous mid-air endings work, sometimes they donít. Fulciís City of the Living Dead is surely the heavyweight ambiguous ending champion of the world with its animated crack special effect crawling across the screen in its final frames. But Evil Things fails somewhat. I felt this was mainly due to the fact the end credits start to roll a full 12 minutes before the movies conclusion allowing for short segments to be interspersed. It all alludes to a mind blowing climax Ė but for me it was a let-down. The conclusion literally just about got away with it by the skin of its teeth. PLEASE donít let this put you of watching this DVD though. Countless times I have seen pictures with an original idea that fails in its execution. Here we have a simple design that is executed with such terrifying precision I nearly felt like turning the lights on! (Nearly I said!)

The DVD has a few extras that were innovative if not overly interesting. Firstly we have the Friend and Family appeals. Listen, if I wanted to watch 7 minutes of fake sniffling and begging I would watch the frigging X-factor! Then we have a "Stalking 101" skit. Itís over 5 minutes of some homemade stalking footage, which again was a little unnecessary. Still I sometimes bemoan the lack of extras on DVDís so would rather they be on there than not, but a fleeting glance is all they are worth in my humble opinion.

In summary, I found this to be an unsettlingly effective viewing experience laden with scares. Or maybe I am just a wimp...look forward to being shot down in flames on the SGM forum!!!

Review by Marc Lissenburg

Released by Scanbox Entertainment
Region 2 - PAL
Rated 18
Extras :
see main review