In Another Evil, the story revolves around a modestly fruitful visual artist, Dan (Steve Zissis), and an overtly quirky ghost hunter/exorcist, Os (Mark Proksch). After confronting an apparition in his vacation home, Dan sends his skeptical wife, Mary (Jennifer Irwin), and teenage son, Jazz (Dax Flame), back to the city for a week so he can figure the situation out. In a standout comical scene, Dan first recruits Joey Lee (Dan Bakkedahl) to inspect the home for any paranormal entities. With Joey Lee’s lax demeanor, Dan’s buddy recommends a “real deal” exorcist, Os, to come in for a second opinion. From there a whacky and uncanny relationship develops, as Os lives-in with Dan for the week, and the two drunkenly eat and hunt for spirits. Another Evil is one of those exceptional films to successfully balance dark humor and suspenseful horror, while introducing viewers to one of the unique bio-exorcists since Beetlejuice.
Blending comedy and horror is not easy to wield in the pot, and can easily go awry; usually it falls flat on its ass. In writer/director Carson Mell’s feature debut, he successfully creates a deliciously scary, yet amusing, motion picture driven with a powerful script (this movie made me hungry). The film’s foundation is witty dialogue between Dan and Os, containing plenty of social commentary, ranging from paranormal beliefs to family values to art and the bourgeois community surrounding it. The surface and the subtext are awfully full for trialing analysis. There are scenes where stories are shared between the duo; they are outrageously hilarious, grotesque and insightful. The horror element on display occurs in scenes of isolation through the house and ghastly imagery exhibited. The effects department created an entity I’ll describe as ‘grandpa sepsis face tentacle blood mouth’— that about sums it up. It truly looks horrific, and the fact it isn’t overtly dominating the screen adds to its enthrallment.
Other aspects which gel the flick into the fine wine it will become as it ages, is the melancholy score, which coasts and floats viewers through the film, the cinematography and the use of a simple set design. The house where the story is set has a gothic allure when exterior shots are displayed throughout the film in differing color and hue, alluding to the tone and feel of where the movie is headed. Most of the film’s setting is there, as almost every scene occurs at the residence, whether inside or out. Keeping this simple not only works for the budget, but enables the script and cohesion between main characters to be at full attention.
The icing on the cake for Another Evil is selecting the right cast. The range of emotion invoked from the film, which the script certainly congeals, comes from the two leads, Steve Zissis and Mark Proksch. They go together on screen like bread and butter when first being seated at a restaurant. This stems from the befriending relationship they develop over the course of their week long paranormal chase. Mixed feelings toward the men spike up and down like a volleyball in summer episodes of Beverly Hills, 90210. But in all seriousness, the two characters are phenomenal examples of psychological apprehension, because we don’t know exactly what is real, who is telling the truth, and as the cabin fever rises, and the tension escalades to another level, all hell breaks loose like a caged animal in the film’s finale.
Jennifer Irwin and Dax Flame do a fine job portraying Dan’s family in the beginning, although in the third act’s finale they solidify being the right actors cast for the minor, but crucial, supporting roles. Dan Bakkedahl’s short, but hysterically sweet, execution of Joey Lee is exceptional. After briefly stealing the scene from the leads, he only comes up in discussion and one can’t help but laugh at the trail of comedic resonance his character leaves behind. He has to have a spin-off, along with the origin story of Os— that’d make for a hyper-manic dismay and jest. Os is an extremely important and complex character, embodying terror and droll. There are moments you can’t help but empathize with the guy. But then he hits full throttle and a question of repulsive sanity or satanic possession is at hand.
Coming off a successful run at the Fantasia International Film Festival, Another Evil is one of those rare indie gems that will be nonexistent to many, which is unfortunate. Hopefully a distributor like Netflix will acquire Carson Mell’s jocularly dreadful debut feature for the masses to consume, as there’s plenty of mirth and fright to eat up.
4 out of 5 Zombie Heads