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Evidence

D: Howie Askins / 78m

Cast: Abigail Richie, Ashley Bracken, Ryan McCoy, Brett Rosenberg

Yet another entry in the found-footage sub-genre of horror movies, Evidence is a low-budget exercise in misdirection that pulls the rug out from under its audience at the midway mark.  Ryan (McCoy, also the movie’s writer) is making a documentary about his friend Brett (Rosenberg) going on his first camping trip.  It’s a fairly inane reason for making a documentary and for the first twenty minutes or so it’s taken up with Brett voicing his dislike of being filmed, and Ryan being pretentious.  Along for the trip are their respective girlfriends, Ashley (Bracken) and Abigail (Richie).  On the first night they hear a noise that Ryan dismisses as a coyote.  The next day they see a strange creature in a nearby ravine.  That night the noise escalates, and stranger things begin to happen.

By this stage, Evidence is shaping up to be a Bigfoot-style movie.  And if it had continued in that vein the movie might have been less effective than it actually turns out.  And while the twist that happens after that second night takes the movie into a more nightmarish arena, there’s still something about the direction it takes that makes you want to find out if the filmmakers could have pulled off a more focused creature feature.  The creature itself is well-realised and mirrors the creature effects in Attack the Block (2011).  Once the twist is revealed, the movie does little but offer its two female leads running around and screaming a lot, while being chased.  For a while it even takes us into first-person-shooter territory with an approach that wouldn’t look out-of-place in a Resident: Evil game.  The filmmakers have strived to provide the audience with something different from the usual found-footage movies out there, and while they certainly succeed – two shots are as disturbing as anything seen in modern horror – the repetition that goes along with the change in direction undercuts the tension.

Evidence - scene

Director Askins (Devil Girl (2007), several shorts) moves the story along at a brisk pace suited to the running time, and McCoy’s script sticks closely to formula in that whatever is “out there” is shown fleetingly (until the end), and that whenever one of the characters is attacked, the camera is conveniently on the ground or out of focus.  (At least, on this occasion, there is a good reason for the characters to keep filming: most of the time it’s night and the light from the camera let’s them see what they’re doing and where they’re going.)

Richie and Bracken give good performances, even if some of their dialogue early on seems forced, but as mentioned before, once the twist kicks in they have little to do but run and scream a lot.  Rosenberg seems uncomfortable throughout, while McCoy is unafraid to play the jerk, and while other characters do appear, they’re not around for long.

Evidence does suffer at times from ploughing the same furrow as other found-footage movies, but its willingness to try something different is to its credit.  While it’s not entirely successful, and some elements appear lifted from other horror sub-genres, it’s nevertheless worth seeing.  One word of warning though: be prepared for maximum frustration in the last ten minutes as the filmmakers take video and audio fragmentation to its most annoying level ever.

Rating: 6/10 – for once, you won’t see what’s coming, and when you do you’ll find it’s more disturbing than you could have expected; uneven, it’s true, but still more of an achievement than a failure.

Originally posted on thedullwoodexperiment website.

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