Friday, November 30, 2007


Purportedly the first zombie film from Greece, EVIL (a 2005 release from writer/director Yorgos Noussias) shows a definite love for all things undead. Though it draws its inspiration from numerous zombie films, the only real novelty the film has to offer is subtitled Greek dialogue.

Using 28 DAYS LATER as its primary influence, the story kicks off with a trio of workers in an underground cave who discover . . . evil, I guess, since this brief prologue cuts away before establishing little more than three men in a cave discovering something. Before long Athens is overrun with the upgraded, hyper-speed zombies of recent years, who waste no time in slathering the city in blood, brains, and entrails (I'd be willing to bet Noussias has seen his share of Romero and Fulci movies). A band of survivors--including a lascivious cab driver, a teenage girl, and a bitchy drama queen--come together, searching for some type of sanctuary among the growing legion of the undead.

Though it unleashes its zombies early on, EVIL takes a while to become truly engaging. The characters are a little hard to warm up to, but that may be due to the lackluster dialogue that makes up a good portion of the first act (which, being subtitled, makes it a tad more difficult to invest in). While we wait for the story to find its footing, Noussias demonstrates some real visual flair, using rapid-fire editing, frequently kinetic camerawork, and the occasional 24-inspired multi-frame format (which more often than not works as a gimmick rather than a storytelling device). The first real setpiece occurs roughly at the film's mid-point when our heroes fight off a sudden zombie assault inside a restaurant, and it's here that Noussias loses his audiences' confidence. The action is fast and the gore plentiful in this sequence, yet Noussias tries too hard to make the scene memorable, and the result is far-fetched and ludicrous. Several times the characters kill zombies in ways that, although they are cool, are rather tough to believe (until this point the movie has maintained a plausible suspension of disbelief), and Noussias reveals the bitchy drama girl to suddenly be a karate babe (an attempt to curry the favor of drooling fanboys, to be sure, but a completely unestablished trait nonetheless). The picture soon gets back on track after this scene, leading to a somewhat disappointing but inevitable finale (the aerial shot that ends the film is quite impressive).

Though you're not going to find anything here you haven't seen before, EVIL works as one of those by-fans-for-fans entries that make up a fair portion of the subgenre, and at least has a better visual style than most of its ilk. I'd be interested to see what Noussias can do with a tighter script and a little more moola.

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