Ari Kirschenbaum promised horror fans at Stan Lee’s Comikaze Expo that Live-Evil was a horror experience they were sure to remember. The film has been described as “Ghostbusters meets Dawn of the Dead as seen through Rod Serling’s Twilight Zone” which immediately sounds like a great number of buzz words for an independent flick. Naturally, I had to check it out if only to see what exactly that meant in practice.
Beyond the buzzword-laiden set up the film has a lot going for it. The premise that supernatural forces become locked in a college town police force’s basement jail isn’t too totally out of the blue. The idea that the supernatural force or being would be able to prey on the weak-willed officers and prisoners via psychic attacks also seems reasonable, as far as horror movie premises go.
Vladimir Kulich is always an imposing figure, and his performance as the Sherriff is one of his more compelling roles. Charlene Amoia, most widely recognized for her role as ‘Wendy the Waitress’ from How I Met Your Mother, is quite believable in her performance as Deputy Hancock. In Live-Evil she takes control and doesn’t take any nonsense from her colleagues before or after they are corrupted. Rather than reminding me of Ghostbusters, her character and her portrayal reminded me somewhat of Barbara from the Night of the Living Dead remake. Amoia played a strong character who isn’t afraid to take charge when people around her are either incapable, or paralyzed by the situation at hand. She won the film in her first appearance. That of course says nothing for the involvement of the wonderful Tony Todd!
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Live-Evil had very strong visual and auditory elements. Although the “influence” effect was a bit hokey, the decision to film both in black and white and in color was unique, as was the decision to divide the film into chapters. The scenes which involved cutting away from the present action, as well as the initial title sequence, were remarkably pretty. They reminded me of NBC’s Hannibal with the floating blood/smoke effects and were well done, although a bit confusing. The music, for the cut away scenes as well as for the ones which featured the cast, was appropriate and sufficiently dark.
My only gripes with the film were that it didn’t really grab me like it should. Supernatural horror is a sub-genre that I love, but I couldn’t get past the weird eye-glowing effects to successfully suspend my disbelief. The plot crawled along at a pace even slower than the pseudo-zombies created by the paranormal, and I found myself counting down the minutes until the end of the movie rather than eagerly anticipating the next scare. If you’re looking for a weird, creepy film with religious connotations (in case Tony Todd’s get up didn’t give it away), Live-Evil might be for you. Unfortunately I wasn’t the target audience. I need more excitement and energy from the plot, not just from the actors.
WICKED RATING: 5/10
Written & Directed: Ari Kirschenbaum
Starring: Vladimir Kulich, Charlene Amoia, Vincent M. Ward, J. Richey Nash, Tony Todd
Genre: Supernatural Horror