Monday, October 4, 2010

Evil Remains

A group of grad students doing a project on urban myths travel to a secluded cabin in Louisiana reputed to be... um, haunted... or something. I missed that part. Anyway, turns out evil really is afoot, they are all in mortal danger, etc etc.

What piqued my curiosity in Evil Remains was its director, James Merendino, who years back made a wonderful little movie called SLC Punk. Though I had never seen another thing the guy had done, SLC Punk is a real gem, and I was interested to see what he'd do with in this genre. ("This genre" meaning "horror,' of course. I'm posting about all the horror movies I watch this month. Not sure if that was clear.)

Merendino brings a lot to the table: the ideas are intriguing, the cast is strong and the characters are more fleshed out than you usually get in this sort of thing, and he throws a few structural surprises in (character's dying sooner than you's expect and so forth) to keep you on your toes. He even has some clever setups for suspense sequences (a bit with a strobe light is effective), but the problem is he doesn't have much of a sense of how to stage them. The movie is murky and muddled, and he plays too many of the scenes in close-up (possibly because he puts so much stock in the performances) and the result is often visually ugly and hard to follow. It's difficult to get excited during a chase scene when you're having trouble understand who's chasing who and in which direction.

I wanted to like Evil Remains, and I didn't exactly dislike it, but it doesn't deliver the meat and potatoes needed for a good horror movie, and its virtues aren't enough to make up for that. Call it a noble misfire.

Grade: C+

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