Tuesday, October 20, 2009

October Horror-thon #20: "Evil" (2005)

Whilst toiling on a construction site, a trio of workers uncover a mysterious cave deep in the earth. After heading down to explore, the men are attacked by an unseen entity, only to emerge with no memory of the incident. But as they return to their mundane lives, it's clear that something has effected the men for the worse. Almost at once, these guys turn from ordinary citizens into rabid zombies, quickly tearing through innocent bystanders in a frantic urge to feed. Mobs of the infected congregate in no time, leaving a requisite band of survivors to fight back. From a wiseass cab driver (Argiris Thanasoulas) to the token badass (Meletis Georgiadis), the group teams up to find some way out of the city, before the living dead consume them all.

If you're like me, then the closest you'll ever get to Greece's picturesque shores is if you're roped into a Mamma Mia! screening. And if you're like me, you've thought the landscape could do with a few mutilated corpses strewn about. In that case, you're in luck, as Greece has retired from providing wacky families for ethnic comedies to create its first zombie romp, Evil. Unfortunately, this bizarre distinction is the film's sole novelty, one that wears off lickety-split. The set-up is textbook stuff: ragtag troupe of quirky archetypes deal as much damage to the undead as the effects budget will allow. But as derivative as Evil gets, to its credit, there is a sense of fun at work. The opening moments are especially sardonic and silly, as when the aforementioned cabbie mistakes a zombie mob for rowdy sports hooligans.

The zombies themselves are standard issue, though Evil makes up for it with some very ambitious splatter sequences. Bodies are halved, heads explode, and one grisly moment takes the term "gut-wrenching" to a new level. But while the filmmakers have an eye for gore, they're not the sharpest of storytellers. Evil possesses little plot to begin with, but what's left resembles random images whipped into a Romeroesque shape. The cast seems lost when required to act beyond their respective stereotypes, while the editing suffers even worse. The film regurgitates more arbitrary jump cuts and split-screen effects than an epileptic Michael Bay, culminating in an ending so anticlimactic, you'll swear the editor keeled over in post-production.

Evil kills time well enough (though not without a few dull patches encountered), but its commitment to zombie basics is its downfall. Without a couple unique traits, what's there to distinguish your film from those of every budding director nudging their foot into show business the easiest way possible? Evil is serviceable, but there's little meat to be found on this ditty's bones.

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