DVD REVIEW: DROPPING EVIL

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02.04.2013

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MSRP $14.95

RATED Unrated

STUDIO Wild Eye Releasing

RUNNING TIME 82 Minutes

SPECIAL FEATURES

• Short Film Sequel: Daddy-O Died So That Love Could Live

• Short Film Sequel: The Rise of Gunhead

• Short Film Sequel: Becky’s The Boss

• Trailers

• 2 Deleted Scenes

• A Music Video

• Valyoucorp commercial

• Trailers for other Wild Eye releases

The Pitch

A horror-comedy with too much ambition for its budget or cast to withstand and too much bat-shit crazy charm to ignore.

The Humans

Tom Taylor, Rachel Howell, Zachary Eli Lint, Cassandra Powell, Armin Shimerman, Tiffany Shepis, Edwin Neal, and Fred Williamson (kind of)

The Nutshell

After his group of friends slip him some LSD during a camping trip, the ultra-nerdy and God-loving Nancy begins to hunt them down one by one after the drug reveals their “true” natures to him. But a mysterious corportation is very interested in the teenage blood bath, and has their own plans to control and contain the evil that has been unleased, luring the doomed teens to a mysterious cabin in the woods where they can be studied and developed into something even more sinister.

The Lowdown

Okay. . . This is going to be hard. I picked Dropping Evil because it sounded like a softball slasher movie about a guy who takes magic movie drugs and goes on a killing spree. What I got was probably the most ambitious, if slightly inept, indie-horror effort I have ever seen.

Dropping Evil starts off with our main character driving a car very fast through the woods before slamming on the breaks two feet from a tree; causing him to fly through the windshield and plow face-first into aforementioned tree. The movie then goes back a few days, presumably to give us some context to why he would do that. It never does.

“Did I ever tell you I was on two of biggest hit TV shows of the 90s?” “*sigh* Yes Armin.”

We meet our lead Mike as he pulls up on his scooter to watch his girlfriend Samantha rehearse with her band. Samantha talks about how she’s invited her charity case friend Becky along for the weekend getaway and suggests that Mike invite his own charity case (his hyper religious friend Nancy) along to keep her occupied. This framing device is the last time these characters will be relevant until the end of the movie.

Meanwhile in artsy black-and-white film stock land at the evil corporation Valuecorp: charity case Becky is being outfitted with eyeball cameras to spy on the kids, CEO Armin Shimerman talks ominously about why he hired Tiffany Shepis (she played the naked breasts in almost every single horrible direct-to-DVD movie that came out in the last 10 years and continues that proud tradition here), and a snarky lab assistant tries to get bargain basement Chris Hemsworth (who is playing either God, Satan, or some Greek God… it’s confusing) to invest in this company. It should be noted that this company’s business model seems to be the not terribly lucrative field of “evil shit” (A market already dominated by OCP, Umbrella, and Wolfram and Hart) which is maybe why their corporate headquarters appear to be a shitty office building that an Indie-film producer rented for the weekend.

This could totally be the cover of a grunge album.

Eventually we do get back to the kids, who give Nancy acid and then he freaks out and starts killing them, but at that point its questionable whether that’s even the reason why as the film goes into its third act. Things take a hard right into an Evil Dead/Night of the Living Dead/Zombies Anonymous/Tetsuo the Bullet Man mash-up (Don’t get too excited, it’s not as fleshed out or cool as any of those concepts) that involves a tennis match with a table and car door as rackets and an axe as the ball.

What I’m trying to say is that this movie is fucking weird and it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. There’s a lot of explanations in this movie but very few of them do much in the way of explaining anything. The latter half of the movie just throws too many things at the audience without explaining any of it. Armin Shimerman’s exposition dump in the last 10 minutes only covers a small number of the questions any sane viewer will be asking and bring up even more in the process. Most of the wrap up work at the end is presented as a trailer for Dropping Evil 2 which inserts a lot of characters and ideas in the last 2 minutes and then just drops the mic and strolls off grinning like a bastard.

Mike comes down with a bad case of David Croenenberg Syndrome

The film, technically speaking, is very inept. While the picture quality is fine aside from being a little grainy at times, the sound is garbage. Sounds effects are louder than voices and often times characters are unintelligible.

Acting is also a bit of an issue: while Tom Taylor and Rachel Howell are fine as Mike and Samantha, Nancy (played by Zachary Eli Lint) is terrible. His delivery is wooden and forced and his character is a 2-dimensional stereotype that never goes beyond its political comic barriers. Considering he’s the villain and most important character in the movie, this is a huge detriment to the quality of the film as a whole. It also bothers me that our four “teenage” leads all appear to be in their mid-20s to early 30s.

Similarly the Valyoucorp employees and really the entire black-and-white gang are terrible except for Armin Shimerman, who carries most of the second half of the movie and acts circles around everyone involved. Though Edwin Neal (The hitch hiker from Texas Chainsaw Massacre) is passable in his small roll, Fred “The Hammer” Williamson barely even talks or appears.

I refuse to give any context to this, supply your own.

While this is a horror-comedy, very little of the comedy actually works. Lines meant to be funny are either dragged on too long or just seem smugly pretentious. There are several moments of physical humor that work just by sheer force of weirdness but almost all the spoken comedy is stilted and un-funny.

Dropping Evil is 82 minutes long but I’d say a good 15 of that are filled up by a terrible song that feels really out of place at the beginning and a large amount of really self-indulgent camera shots. It’s painfully apparent that the film-makers are fans of Quentin Tarantino and much of the films flaws come from an attempt to ape his style.

This movie and its creators are obviously extremely ambitious but through a combination of budget, lack of talent, and sub-par actors it is ultimately a failure. But it’s a very interesting failure with more than a little charm. It’s not the best grassroots indie-horor-comedy effort I’ve seen in the last ten years, (that honor goes to Drew Bolduc’s The Taint) but it is certainly the most original and interesting, and though it fails in most categories it is a beautiful and entertaining failure to behold.

The Package

While Dropping Evil gets a D-minus on the main exam, it mops the floor on the bonus category. The special features of this disc make everything a good 70% better.

The three 20-minute short films on the disc serve as a pseudo sequel to the actual movie. In fact, much of the actual trailer ending was made up of spliced footage from these films. I still maintain that the actual movie is an overall failure in every category except charisma and would be a rather disorienting and disappointing experience in a theater, but the sequels make it all worthwhile.

For one thing: every question the main movie put in the viewer’s head is answered. For two: the characters are given depth and meaning: existing characters are fleshed out, new characters (particularly Nancy’s younger brother Zachariah) are well-rounded and interesting, and Fred Williamson’s cameo now makes sense. For three: Nancy does not appear in one second of any of them.

They give the movie a more epic scope that really serves to make it more interesting and fulfilling. They’re also better acted, shot, written, and staged than the main movie. The film-makers’ ambition is realized in as big a way as it can be on the production’s micro-budget and an interesting failure becomes a roughshod triumph.

“I just stopped by to pick up my paycheck” -Fred “The Desperate Genre Actor” Williamson

Two deleted scenes in the special features explain most of the questions that weren’t answered in the main movie and shouldn’t have been removed under any circumstances. I don’t know why they were taken out and no explanation is given.

There’s a mildly amusing Valyoucorp commercial and a music video that I don’t care about because it’s not for this song: which is easily the best on the soundtrack.

The back of the DVD box compares it to Cabin in the Woods: IGNORE THAT SHIT! I can’t say that I’d blame anyone for not liking this, but if you’re a fan of indie-horror that’s looking for something new and different I’d say it’s a definite buy. Just remember: its the special features that really make the disc worth owning.

Rating:
★★★½☆

Out of a Possible 5 Stars



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