Five twenty-somethings head off from New York City for a weekend retreat, to celebrate the 21st birthday of one of the group. Moving out of the city and into rural New Jersey, the snow comes down thick and heavy. From out of nowhere someone in a black van makes a dangerous manoeuvre in order to overtake the group, but no sooner have they overtaken, than they slow down causing the group to overtake the van in return, an issue the driver is none to happy about. In a strange cat and mouse series of scenarios the group and the van continuously cross paths, unhinging the group. Luckily they soon get away from the driver, and arrive at their weekend retreat where all is safe and sound…Or is it?
Evil Things has the potential to be the best of the recent “found footage” movies, I’d got an hour in and realised that this left a lot of the latest offerings (A Night In The Woods, Atrocious etc) cowering in its wake, and most certainly had “the edge”. Some many of these movies deal with issues of paranormal or occult happenings, Apollo 18 dealt with issues quite literally out of this world, but Wicked Things deals with something very plausible, someone with a giant chip on their should, intent on making sure he/she gets the upper hand.
I warmed to the movie from the offset, with its beautiful shots of a New York you never really would get to see unless you were familiar with the City. I can only assume given the movies obvious low budget, that no permissions were gained to film such footage, although of course their may be some loophole being as the footage was taken from within a vehicle, and on a fairly standard camera. Legality aside however, I cannot emphasis how this little touch really impresses, it immediately takes the movie up a calibre of similar movies.
Sadly the flaws soon become apparent, a bit of padding at the midsection so you know about the characters seems a little bit overplayed, and in short boring. . This is followed up by the typical badly filmed people running, screaming, dropping cameras, swapping cameras, more screaming, and the great unexplained. In the process first time movie director Dominic Perez makes the ultimate mistake, the found footage faux pas, he takes the visuals out of the hands of those making the film, and puts it into the hands of another, with a completely different camera. I’m sure every director making this sort of movie wants to take this move, but the trouble being is it then stops it from being a “found footage” movie. Perez realises he has made this mistake, and at the start and end includes a card that implies the footage was submitted to the police, which would allow the perpetrator of the activity to re-edit the groups footage.
The mistakes don’t end with there sadly having lulled us into a suitably creepy scenario, Perez fails to deliver the required scares expected of the genre in the final moments, in fact of all the movies of this genre going right the way back to Cannibal Holocaust, there has never been such an example of “unexplained”, and sorry, this is not a good thing.
The final insult is a lengthy stretch of film from the perpetrators view, you soon realise that there is more footage here than you saw earlier in the movie, when the group are treated to some footage given to them by the van owner. This footage goes through the final credits, and you kind of expect it to go somewhere, sadly it does not, and again you feel cheated.
I commend Perez for his efforts, because he does achieve an awful lot that much more established film-makers have failed to do, he delivers one of the best build-ups I have ever seen from this particular genre. He achieves so much, and to be honest this is worth watching the movie just for this. Sadly the follow through delivers zero scares, which is a tragedy. The cast perform as well as they can given what they have to work with, the settings are beautiful, and the direction is solid. It just lacks that final kick, that every single “found footage” movie has given right the way back to 1980.