Jazz, film, and improvised culture.
Fantasia ’16: Another Evil
has been a tough summer for spectral exorcists. First, the Ghostbusters reboot tried to win over skeptical fans by tarring
them as braying misogynists. Now, a rather unprofessional freelancer will give
the spook-dispelling profession a very bad name. An artist with a haunted cabin
makes the wrong call in Carson D. Mell’s Another
which screened during the 2016 Fantasia International Film Festival.
Papdakis is understandably alarmed when he sees a ghost shimmying through his well-appointed
vacation home, but the first medium he consults insists it is no big deal. The
spirits are ambivalent, even kind of “cool,” so he should just come to terms
with their presence. It is hard to fault him for his skepticism, but he called
the wrong gung-ho, emotionally insecure hardliner for a second opinion. Os Bijourn
is convinced the ghosts are not merely evil, but also probably in league with
the bad cat downstairs.
joke, Bijourn invokes Satan more often than the Church Lady, but when he apparently
bags the first the spirit, Papadakis starts to buy into the exorcist’s big
talk. Unfortunately, he will lose confidence in Bijourn just as quickly when
the ghost-busting takes a sinister turn.
Another Evil is a terribly
frustrating film, because its first half is fresh and witty, yet also flavored
with creepy overtones, only to face-plant the back nine. Essentially, the film
turns into a ghost-hunting analog of The
Cable Guy, with a teaspoon of anti-Catholic sentiment thrown in for extra
added alienation. How can such an assured beginning run so far off the rails?
Proksch’s Bijourn is outrageously funny when it is time for bluff and bluster,
but the meltdowns and angst-fests are just kind of awkward. On the other hand, as
Papadakis, Steve Zissis makes a consistently credible straight man. Dan
Bakkedahl also scores respectable-sized laughs as the unusually laidback spiritualist,
Joey Lee. For the most part, Jennifer Irwin and Dax Flame are stuck on the
sidelines, as Papadakis’s wife and son, but they handle their horror movie
business well enough when finally called upon.
It is always disappointing to watch a film
sabotage itself. In this case, the heavy-handed portrayal of religious
conviction and the black-and-white world view it supposedly implies does the
film no favors. More to the point, it just stops being fun midway through. It
is hard to half-recommend a film, especially since the good half necessarily
lacks resolution. Still half is better than nothing. Horror fans can trust
their instincts when Another Evil next
screens at FrightFest, following its international premiere during this year’s
Labels: Fantasia '16, Horror Movies