Monday, 9 April 2012

Evidence (2011)

Ryan: "What if there's bears?"
Brett: "Stop, drop and roll."

- Evidence

Evidence is a tricky one to do a proper review of because I try to avoid spoilers as much as possible, and (spoiler alert!) a fair chunk of the film is going to be impossible to talk about without giving anything away. Suffice to say that it begins like a normal found-footager, with a group of friends recording their first camping trip together. There's all the normal wisecracking, simmering tensions (it's no surprise that one of the group really hates camping) and weird screeches around the campfire - in fact, it's so by-the-numbers to start off with that you might be forgiven for wanting to switch it off after the first half hour or so.

If you like the sound of it so far, I recommend you stop reading here and just go and watch it, because here be spoilers. After glimpsing a strange creature in a ravine and having an uncomfortable midnight run-in with a gun-toting stranger, the group soon come under attack, forcing them to shelter in the RV and roll the cameras less often. There's a palpable sense of dread as the sparingly-glimpsed creature - somewhere between a Bigfoot and a big dog - tries to batter its way through the van and at this point, you might expect the film to carry on in siege fashion, with the survivors being picked off one by one: but this is where Evidence goes absolutely apeshit.

After the gang decide to make a break for it, the film shifts gear into a nausea-inducing kaleidoscope of gunfire, monsters, spattering evicerations, babbling crazies, military installations and zombies (yep, zombies) as the survivors desperately try to find somewhere safe as what seems to be a world-shattering outbreak of something or other unfolds around them. Compared with the sedate-but-creepy first act and the claustrophobic jumpiness of the RV, the last half hour is just one long insane dash, pock-marked with explosive gore, half-glimpsed nightmare creatures, roaring helicopters and radio chatter. There's no way to judge the timeframe of what's happening, and certainly no explanation - the outbreak seems to be military in origin, but that's about the best I could piece together - the whole sequence is an authentic snapshot of all the panic and confusion of the Apocalypse, minus the details.

Not since Kill List have I seen a film hang such a colossal left on the audience in the final act, and it's one that's well worth sticking around for. Like many films of its kind, it was made for next to nothing (about $12,000, and I'd guess 90% of that went on the last 20 minutes) but delivers bigger and better shocks, scares and balls-out weirdness than any number of high-budget efforts. Not everyone's going to like the fat middle finger it gives to their expectations, but even if you've read this far and you know what's coming, it's well worth seeing for the experience.

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