Directed by Ari Kirshenbaum.
Starring Vladimir Kulich, Charlene Amoia, Vincent M. Ward, Tony Todd, J. Richey Nash, and Karen Wheeling Reynolds
Supernatural forces are locked into a college town police force’s basement jail. The sheriff and his deputies are subjected to psychic attacks, preying on the fears of the loyal officers and only those with the strongest wills can survive.
It’s that time again campers. The time of year when production companies with any horror films on their slate, push out a release. As it is, Live-Evil has actually been hovering around for a couple of years now but finally has a UK release.
I enjoy a quirky horror film. A film which attempts to do something different. Subvert the genre perhaps or have a little fun. Earlier this year I saw Dolph Lundgren’s enjoyable horror comedy, Don’t Kill It. It felt like a gleeful homage to things like Brain Dead or Army of Darkness. Great fun. There have been countless other examples of horror which don’t fall too quickly to convention. Live-Evil takes the quirky route, but does it succeed?
There’s an issue with said route to quirksville. It’s fraught with peril. The first major issue is consistency. It’s all well and good being a bit different or trying to move away from conventional approach. This deals with devilish forces, zombies and end of the world scenarios. It has all been done but in the mission to take those elements and craft something a little more imaginative, writer/director Ari Kirschenbaum has fallen to a fatal flaw. The film has no identity. It’s not quite assured in what it wants to be. Are we nodding to Tarantino? Is it Raimi? Is it overtly comical or incidentally comical? How seriously do we take it, and how seriously should we be taking the scares? As a viewer I don’t know because as a script, and as it is directed, Live-Evil has no clear personality. It’s scattershot.
Stylistically this is very confused. For little discernible reason the film is segmented into chapters. That’s all well and good in context. Tarantino might do it in a film with which the timeline is not chronological, or it may be done to emphasise a point in each scene. It does not particularly do anything here. There’s also a shift from an opening half in monochrome, to colour. It feels like a whim rather than having any great reasoning. Whims are fine in filmmaking but there should always be some reasoning. Some purpose in what you are doing.
The cast are pretty game, but again, they’re not aided by a film that can’t clearly identify a tone. Charlene Amoia is very good. It’s a strong, likeable performance lumbered in a film that should have offered a more stable platform. Vladimir Kulich is pretty good too. He’s eccentric but there’s an imbalance between him being a haunted and broken character, or being comically bonkers. Again I feel this is more a directorial or scripting issue rather than Kulich. Tony Todd briefly appears and probably wishes someone would say his name three times.
One aspect I sort of liked, even if it encapsulates the inconsistent nature of the film in a nutshell, was the music by Shawn Lee. An odd mix of electronica and funk that is out of place in this sort of film but ends up being one of the more enjoyable elements. Had what they were going for worked, the score would have felt more at home.
Horror fans looking for something interesting will probably want to look elsewhere. Although some may appreciate the inconsistent oddness of this to an extent.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ / Movie: ★ ★