In today’s economically stringent times there is no excuse for something as woefully inept as Evil Things, the debut from director Dominic Perez. Filmmakers have an obligation to produce films which are at least entertaining, if they want audiences to part with their hard earned cash to see them. This new horror (and I use this word in its loosest sense) starring Elyssa Mersdorf, Ryan Maslyn, Laurel Casilo, Morgan Hooper and Torrey Weiss (Evil Things is the first – and likely last – main feature for nearly all of them) has all the fright value of a bad episode of Scooby Doo!
Miriam and her college friends Leo, Cassy, Mark and Tanya (Mersdorf, Maslyn, Casilo, Hooper and Weiss respectively) leave Manhattan to celebrate her 21st birthday at her Aunt Gail’s house in the Gatskill mountains, with would-be film maker Leo bringing his new video camera to keep a digital diary of the weekend trip. During the journey they are tormented by a strange red van, the driver of which follows them along the snowy country roads, freaking the kids out by playing a game of cat and mouse. Reaching the safety of Aunt Gail’s house they forget the unsettling events of the journey, and start enjoying a typically rowdy student weekend of drink and ‘getting to know each other’. Then a knock at the front door makes the friends realise they may not be as alone as they first thought, in the remote and rambling country house.
There is nothing about Evil Things to redeem it, apart from the beautiful setting of upstate New York and Aunt Gail’s stunning house (but if this is what you’re looking for you’d be better buying a copy of World of Interiors). What you want from a horror film is horror and, apart from one shock sequence halfway through, Evil Things has nothing remotely frightening about it: by the time the said scene came I was so comatosed that I missed it and had to watch it again, which kind of defeated the purpose.
A good horror film (or most types of film if honest) should make you feel some kind of empathy with its characters. By the end of Evil Things you have no such feelings, and are actually grateful when everyone (both the characters and you the viewer) are put out of their misery.