Ryan, a wannabe filmmaker, decides to make a documentary about his friend Brett as they and their girlfriends go on a camping trip, but it isn’t long before they find that something is stalking them in the night…
Since Blair Witch, ‘found footage’ movies have been a pretty regular occurrence. Some are huge successes (Cloverfield, Paranormal Activity), others not so much (Apollo 18, Diary of the Dead), but it’s proven to be an indispensable format for indie filmmakers, as low production values and ropey camera-work are not only acceptable in these types of films, but preferred.
Adding to the list of ‘found footage’ movies can now be counted Evidence, an American indie flick made for around $12, 000.
Evidence starts out well, the acting seems pretty much above average for a film of this sort, and the improv nature of the acting brings out the charm in the characters. But just as you start settling in to a classier take on low budget horror, the exploitation cinema traits (such as pointless breast shots and lesbian smooches) quickly creep in, but almost under the radar, as they’re kind of dressed up as ‘real life’ situations. This may pass some by, but exploitation enthusiasts will spot the beats as transparent as glass and leave you wondering if you should be happy at the embracing of bad taste traditions or offended by the presumption of the filmmakers trying to get one over on you.
That’s all out of the way in the first ten minutes though, and as soon as the characters are in the ‘wilderness’, it’s full-on formula for the rest of the way. You know how it goes, everyone’s having a laugh, some odd stuff goes down and the characters get pissy at the cameraman for not turning off the camera, they all make up and have some more laughs and just when you ‘least’ expect it, the turd hits the fan, and instead of just getting out of there, they separate and run aimlessly about until they’re picked off.
Why they don’t initially get out of there in this film is particularly irksome, as the ‘wilderness’ is about as intimidating as someone’s back garden, they’re never more than a few minutes away from their Winnebago and when things turn to chaos, they’re finding buildings every second minute.
By this point, you’re not really with the film, and other ‘found footage’ clichés don’t help. When the horror ramps up, the camera keeps glitching out. WHY? Does this bother anyone else? Has this ever happened with anyone’s camera ever? It stars randomly glitching out when you’re all a panic? No, thought not, and the amount it happens in Evidence become very annoying very quickly, and is quite obviously a device to hide it’s limited production quality. Also, about half way in, you’re wondering why they even have the camera on at all. A single line about needing the light, doesn’t really explain why you’d be wasting the power on recording…
This aside, there occasionally is some decent tension building, and the stalking creatures are smartly integrated, but just as it’s winning you over and a few intriguing things are being thrown into the mix, the last fifteen minutes become an utter mess of unexplored ideas, none stop über-shaky-camera-work, screaming, nonsensical acts and an all encompassing narrative deadend. The film just explodes into chaos then dies with nothing in the way of explanation, leaving not a sense of disappointment per se, as you were never really with it anyway, but that sense where you feel like you’ve wasted a bit of your life (mercifully only about seventy minutes of it).
The scale isn’t bad for it’s budget, but most of the problems derive from none budget related issues, such as writing and editing, and if the shooting script resembled the final product, I’m shocked they could even generate $12, 000, and even more shocked that anyone’s distributed it.
So the only people I feel I can suggest Evidence to are the genuine horror aficionados out there, and only to be viewed as a curio or comparison piece for better films, everyone else should stay well clear.
F grade – for storytelling
B- grade – for acting
D- grade – for direction
C grade – for horror content
Overall grade – D
Evidence is available on region 2 DVD from March 12th, 2012 from Showbox Entertainment.