It’s always interesting when the horror genre has filmmakers using headlines to create new terrifying stories, director Martin Sonntag earlier this year released a film entitled Escaping the Dead (2017) as did director Dustin Mills with his creation Bath Salt Zombies (2013) in both cases base it on the Bath Salts’ incident in 2012. However, The Evil in Us from writer and director Jason William Lee his first feature film, loosely based from the same environment of these other two films, but with a twist genetically designed cocaine created for nefarious reasons. In addition, his movie combines the yolo mentality versus a high moral code, but falters back to a few standard horror clichés, throughout the structure of film such as camping in an isolated area and doing drugs, two big no-no’s. Yet it all works producing a blood splatter flick filled with immature friends, sexual conquests, zombie behavior masking as cannibalism and a lot of violence.
A gory start to the film, setting a firm tone from the director’s intention, with a chilling discovery by police, Lee fills a room with bloodied bodies of the dead and a lone survivor. A young detective investigates trying to assess the role of everyone involved, this also shows the result (and not the beginning), the story originates with a two-sided plot occurring, which seems as too much for the viewers to understand but the bloodlust does keep one engaged. The other storyline (political) involves a Senator Elias Cob (Robert Leaf) watching over an experiment obviously nefarious in design, but the audience receives little information about the project, except much later in the film. Meanwhile, a group of friends set out at a remote location, enjoying libations and a campfire, fun, sexual teasing and some higher power drug – hello 80s, the return of cocaine brought by John Wheeler (Ian Collins). It is here with the horror rules in thorough disregard that the one reasonable character steps up, Brie (Debs Howard) staying as the outsider to this group ruining them. Her boyfriend Steve (Danny Zaporozan) and his so-called friends become selfish, rage fueled, and paranoia while Brie, maintains a righteous path, for she find drugs a dishonest representation of person. Howard portrays her character with mental toughness and shows a lot of strong determination and courage, holding her ground against the verbal assaults and perhaps suggestive bullying by the others. The sorting drug turns the victims into an animals seeking violence and rage (a hint of 28 Days Later (2002)) though not quite zombies, more of junkie cannibals. The others justify their actions because of numerous excuses and woe-is-me stories plaguing their lives, none of it works to achieve sympathy with each other or with the audience.
Lee took careful time to plan the various shots and angles clearly shown on the screen, though sometimes the action sequence repeats a few times. The transitioning shots work nicely the customary jump cuts often associated in low budget horror films, rather he makes a more fluid motion and it helps with sometimes-uneven acting in the scenes. As the location being isolated it gets a negative wrap in the horror genre (even by me at times) but it allows for more freedom, when dealing with very budgeted money, however an upside limits the escapable for characters especially in this film, making them face the reality before them. Nevertheless, the blood and gore ratchet everything up very well for the fans.
For the fans The Evil in Us is definitely worth seeking out, now it isn’t flawless or overwhelmingly scare, but does deliver with violence and brutality a movie taking a news story and creating a vicious scenario and something one can sink their teeth into for satisfying meal.
IMDb Rating: 5.7/10
Baron’s Rating: 6.1/10