SXSW 2016 Review | ‘Another Evil,’ A Horror-Comedy Without Horror/Comedy
Taking something extraordinary and making it very ordinary can be the inspiration for great comedy. Look at Ghostbusters if you don’t believe me: it’s a film about super-scientists who have proven the existence of life after death and pagan gods, but who cannot pay their mortgage unless they adapt those world-changing discoveries into a blue-collar pest control service.
Carson D. Mell’s Another Evil works very much the same way, in principle at any rate. It’s the story of a modern artist named Dan (Steve Zissis) who discovers that his vacation home is haunted. Dan doesn’t believe the first paranormal investigator he hires, who insists that ghosts are benevolent, so he decides to turn a small household infestation into an excuse to exert his masculine dominance – in a lifestyle where he otherwise has few opportunities – and he hires a second ghost hunter who tells him what exactly he wants to hear: that the ghosts are dangerous, he was right to be concerned, and now they must be destroyed.
So Dan and his new paranormal exterminator Os (Mark Proksch) venture up to the isolated dwelling, and hang out for the weekend. Another Evil is not a film that is overflowing with incident. And that should be just fine if you think about it since Mell’s story is about banality and stifled male confidence. Dan can’t stand up for himself and Os, who was already a little odd to begin with, is suffering from a really terrible break up and may now be losing his mind entirely. Os doesn’t want a client, he wants a friend, and that may be why he doesn’t want to leave. At all. Ever.
The problem with Another Evil isn’t in the concept, it’s in the execution. Zissis and Proksch are giving fine performances but the filmmaking emphasizes their plight and downplays their situation. It’s a horror-comedy without much horror or comedy, because the seriousness of the protagonists’ baggage saps away most of the humor, and the laid back filmmaking undercuts any opportunity for scares.
Another Evil was probably never going to be a terrifying tale of the supernatural but it could at least have acknowledged that there was some entertainment value to be had in having ghosts in your movie. It adds too much ho-hum to the hocus pocus, so now there’s nothing magical about it except for the performances, which never get stand out the way they should because the movie never provides them with a dramatic, comedic or horrifying counterpoint.
I wish I could say Another Evil was an interesting experiment in genre-bending or at least in tone, but it’s just not terribly interesting. Mark Proksch almost transforms the film into something noteworthy based on his unhinged and pathetic performance alone, but everything else is working against him. It’s an interesting experiment that failed to have an interesting result. Another Evil is mostly another disappointment.
Top Photo: Memory
William Bibbiani (everyone calls him ‘Bibbs’) is Crave’s film content editor and critic. You can hear him every week on The B-Movies Podcast and watch him on the weekly YouTube series Most Craved and What the Flick. Follow his rantings on Twitter at @WilliamBibbiani.