Welcome witches and warlocks,
Today I will be reviewing the paranormal dark comedy ANOTHER EVIL by writer/director Carson D. Mell. Since IMDB has a pretty good summary, I will turn to them for the plot rundown:
After encountering a ghost in his family's vacation home, Dan (a modern artist) and his wife Mary hire an "industrial-grade exorcist" named Os to get rid of the beings. After a few days spent ghost hunting with Os, Dan realizes that ridding the home of evil will not be as easy as it seems.
Right from the get go this felt like it was going to be a small, more intimate film. The cast is made up of character actors that most will recognize yet not be able to place while the production values themselves are low key. Now that is not to say this film looks bad (the ghosts are actually pulled off well), just that this comes across as a micro budgeted affair. Instead of trick cinematography, outlandish locations, or big budget special effects, we are presented with a little character piece that has a very dark sense of humor.
Before we continue, let us face the facts and admit right here that horror/comedies that stand the test of time are rare. Few master the art of striking a good balance of scares to humor while even less manage to gain the critical acclaim or cult status that ensures longevity. For every REANIMATOR or EVIL DEAD 2 we seem to get five movies on par with NOTHING BUT TROUBLE or the latest SCARY MOVIE which makes us doubt that there is any further comedy to be minded from a situation. Given that haunted houses are one of the oldest tropes in the horror industry, I tried to keep my expectations firmly in check so as not to end up disappointed.
Now, I did end up finding the movie funny, but it was a much darker and more awkward comedy than I had originally thought. The main ghost hunter, Os, is so socially awkward it borders on tragic so watching him try to become friends with Dan, the owner of the haunted house, can often be more painful than laugh out loud. Instead of the more traditional one liners or slap stick we are left with humor that plays heavily on humanity's sense of schadenfreude.
This playing on shortcomings is what sets this film apart for me as it helped center the horror. As things roll along, we watch the flaws of the characters begin to guide the story into a fairly serious meditation on obsession. This switch in tone makes for a much more serious third act that eschews nearly all of the humor to play up the ideas of delusion and intrusion.
The finale is where the real meat of this store lies. Up until this point, I was interested, but not engaged. The finale, though, was a great step forward that changed the focus while keeping enough mystery (as in, what if some of the delusions were true) to keep me intrigued. The shift was a pleasant surprise that added a weight to this film that it did not have before.
The switch also allowed the actors to show off their chops as the fairly sedate horror/comedy became a much darker, tauter affair. While all of the actors handled both aspects well, it is hard not to focus on Mark Proksch (who plays Os) whose character underwent a dramatic metamorphosis. Near the beginning, it is hard not to feel a sort of empathy for the lonely, socially awkward ghost hunter as we watch him try to force a friendship. When the relationship he envisioned does not come to fruition, Proksch brings an edge to Os that is intimidating, while never undoing his more sympathetic beginnings.
All in all, an effective third act elevates this film above its humble beginnings. The darker themes and humor may not be to everyone's taste, but the solid work by the cast will reward those who are patient. Those who enjoyed the movie CREEP will probably enjoy this as it has a similar feel.
The Creeping Craig
ANOTHER EVIL will be making it's International Premiere at the Fantasia Film Festival on July 31 at 4:50pm at the J.A. De Seve Theatre.