Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Fear Him as you Fear God: Evidence (2013)

Evidence (2012)
Rating: **1/2
Starring:  Caitlin Stasey, Radha Mitchell, Stephen Moyer

If a gimmick is dying, it's only natural one will try everything to keep it fresh, no matter how silly it will be.

The main problem with most found footage horror is that they're hardly believable; will you really record every horrible thing happening in front of you? Especially if it happens to be a large hulking guy obscured with a welder's mask and brandishing a blowtorch? Yeah, neither would I! But for a group of detectives in this film, these footage might be the only evidence they can use to figure out who just massacred a busload of teenagers.

Going through several hours of recordings, Detective Burquez (Radha Mitchell) and Reese (Stephen Moyer), along with techie Gabe (Barak Hardley) piece together footages they recovered from phones found on the crime scene and coming up with as much suspects as possible. 

Looking into these records, we see up and coming actress Leann (Torrey DeVitto) and her friends taking a trip across the Nevada desert for a gig in Las Vegas. However, their trip is cut short when their bus went gets wrecked thanks to a rigged barbwire, forcing the group to venture into a nearby ghost town for shelter. What they didn't know, though, is that their night will plunge into a fight for survival as a masked maniac begins to hunt them down one by one.

Some might enjoy this refreshed take on a Found Footage horror that wasn't tackled since Cannibal Holocaust, mixing both amateur first-person recording and third world scenes to create one building story, while others will find this approach tedious, walking through every cliches known to the gimmick while making us believe that someone will hold a camera all night long just to see where they're going. Whether the story works in its fullest or not, what I came to enjoy in Evidence, enough to forgive any flaw, is that there's a good mystery to be enjoyed.

Multiple red herrings come up, some being more suspicious than the other, and the whole first third of the film focuses on building up around these characters, though some of these casts just didn't quite work out too well. I see this as a way to prevent us with identifying with the cast, so that way it's easier to question them and see past the tropes each characters represent such as a bus driver with a bad reputation, a hitchhiking lady with a dufflebag full of cash, her offcamera husband who's a traumatized Vietnam vet, and an angry boyfriend with temper issues. 

Of course, once the slayings start, we get one of these herrings killed off to the next, forcing us to recount on who might be behind the mask, but these killings are the real downer of Evidence, sadly. Because of the supposedly shaky and damaged quality of the film, we never get to see them that good, with the best ones I could make out involves dismembering a victim with a blowtorch (via IR lens) and another being disemboweled. Still, I love the build up around these kills, utilizing the same old fear of an unseen attacker coming right around the corner to slash your throat with a glass shard. 

For a movie with a paper-thin plot, I'm quite thankful these elements are handled pretty well at some point until the ending, which I believed could have been better. Not spoiling much, but it felt a tad too random and, sadly, broke a lot of legitimacy and continuity throughout the course of the film. I felt a bit cheated but nevertheless, I enjoyed most of the movie so that has to count for something, right?

So will I recommend this strange thriller to you all? Well, I will with a fair warning that Evidence is one confused bag of treats that tries to be both a found footage slasher and a procedural thriller. It never quite get the two mixed in perfectly but it has its occasional cleverness.

1 male knifed on the throat
1 female dismembered with a blowtorch
1 female had her throat cut with a glass shard, disemboweled
1 male found shot through the mouth
1 male found murdered
1 male beaten to death with a steel rod
Total: 6

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