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Film Review: ‘Another Evil’

Supernatural pests prove less problematic than the plain old human kind in this offbeat if just mildly amusing exercise.

another-evil
Courtesy of SXSW

Supernatural pests prove less problematic than the plain old human kind in “Another Evil.” Writer-director Carson Mell’s microbudget debut feature finds a family’s vacation home beset by spirits, only to discover that the professional exorcist they hire is even harder to get rid of. This offbeat if just mildly amusing mix of fantasy and slackerish comedics should attract some attention at genre fests and in midnight slots before floating off to minor home-format prospects.

Successful painter Dan Papadakis (Steve Zissis, “Togetherness”); his wife, Mary (Jennifer Irwin); and their teenage son, Jazz (Dax Flame), are nonplussed to find that their second home in the mountains is being haunted by one or possibly two “entities.” The first purported expert (Dan Bakkedhal) they consult cheerfully advises that the spirits in residence are harmless (if rather grisly in appearance), and should simply be cohabited with rather than eradicated.

This doesn’t sit well with Dan, however, particularly as he’s often here alone working on his art. While his spouse and kid are back in L.A., he gets a second opinion from Os Bijourn (Mark Proksch), a gonzo type whose far more alarmist diagnosis comes with a recommendation to “annihilate the specters.” That endeavor winds up taking several days, during which the two middle-aged protags do a lot of drinking — apparently nothing unusual for Os — and some bonding that the recently divorced, emotionally needy ghostbuster is quite embarrassingly appreciative over.

But this disheveled, demanding new self-appointed BFF wears out his welcome even as he does effectively trap the offending ghouls, leading his host to ponder if the hired help actually constitutes a worse invasion than the one he’s addressing. Their eventual falling out triggers a crisis that nudges the film toward nearly straight-faced thriller terrain, just in time for Mary and Jazz’s return.

“Another Evil” is somewhat unpredictable and nicely played, but so low-key that the comedy as well as everything else feels almost too modest for feature scale; it has the throwaway, anecdotal tenor of a droll short. It doesn’t bore, but at 90 minutes it lacks the kind of heft, hilarity or other assertive quality that render its pleasant-enough progress memorable. Package elements, from cinematography to f/x and White Dove’s rather bland rock score, are likewise competent but uninspired.

Film Review: ‘Another Evil’

Reviewed at SXSW Film Festival (Narrative Spotlight), March 12, 2016. Running time:<strong> 90 MIN.</strong>

  • Production: A Memory production. (International sales: UTA, Los Angeles.) Produced by Sebastian Pardo, Riel Roch-Decter.
  • Crew: Directed, written by Carson Mell. Camera (color, HD), Drew Bienemann; editor, Alex O'Finn; music, White Dove; music supervisor, Robert Lowry; production designers, Megan Fenton, Ashley Fenton; costume designer, Elizabeth Warn; sound, Nathan Whitcomb; supervising sound editor, Christopher Bonis; re-recording mixer, Kyle Arzt.
  • With: Steve Zissis, Mark Proksch, Jennifer Irwin, Dax Flame, Dan Bakkedhal, Steve Little, Mariko Munro.
  • Music By: