GFF 2012 – DVD Review: EVIDENCE

Following in the wake of recent notables such as: Rec, Cloverfield, and the Paranormal Activity franchise, Evidence looks to make a name for itself in what is fast-becoming an overcrowded genre; that of the found-footage.
With the impossibly daunting spectre of The Blair Witch Project (amongst others) hanging over it, Evidence wants desperately to address the issue of originality, and inject newfound vigour into a format which dates at least as far back as Ruggero Deodato’s Cannibal Holocaust.
It’s an issue which is addressed to no small degree in the film’s second half; but consequently blasts away the pared-down creepiness of its forbear to such an extent, that it threatens to undermine the entire bloody exercise.
Under the vague pretence of making a documentary, budding filmmaker Ryan (Ryan McCoy) drags his pal Brett (Brett Rosenberg), plus two lady friends: Abi (Abigail Richie) and Ashley (Ashley Bracken) into the woods on a camping trip. The outing, filmed for posterity, begins affably enough; but as a strange and sinister presence begins to make itself felt, the group dynamic implodes, and the kids start to wish they’d opted for a weekend at the beach instead.
Do speak up if any of this sounds familiar.
It’s such a crucial fixture of the genre, that the infeasibility, not to mention impracticality, of carrying a camera around with oneself, while being harassed by a zombie, witch, or some other such beastie, now seems relatively unproblematic to those accustomed. The elephant in the room can be addressed, briefly if necessary, and then cheerfully ignored. We understand the use of the first-person perspective as a narrative and thematic device; it needn’t be explained away like some guilty indulgence or underhanded cheat. It’s strange, a little alienating even, that for much of the film’s first third, the characters continually bemoan the camera’s, and therefore our, intrusion into their little world. If your heroes repeatedly ask you “what’s the point?” you may begin to ask yourself exactly the same question.
With the campfire stories beginning to wear thin, the introduction of a malevolent, predatory force into the outing (its form is referenced in an early visual gag) gives the film a much-needed boost of energy. The set-ups are familiar enough, but the shocks are done well, and given an extra sense of urgency from the genuinely thrilling glimpses of the film’s wild and woolly antagonist.
But the shock-and-awe tactics of the film’s final movement come close to undoing the good work done in the middle section. Throwaway monsters, gibbering hospital patients, and a cut-out-and-keep military man are all thrown-in at the death to raise the body-count, and give the piece its gory conclusion. The violence, blood and screaming hordes are increasingly piled-on as the whole thing veers dangerously towards camp. A would-be rescuer exclaims he had no idea they would “go this far.” You tend to sympathise with him.
You can’t help but admire a film that’s prepared to stray from the well-trodden path of its lo-fi, ghostly predecessors; but you’ll probably wish they’d stayed just a little closer to the campsite.
RATING 2.5/5

Reviewer: Chris Banks (@Chris_in_2D)
Stars: Ryan McCoy, Brett Rosenberg , Abigail Richie
Director: Howie Askins
DVD/ BD Release: 12th March  (UK)

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