Return of 31 Days of Our Favorite Horror: Evidence

evidence-2013-movie

Evidence (2013)  Dir.  Olatunde Osunsanmi

Wow. I have some really mixed emotions about this movie. I really wanted to love this movie. It has some great actors, a unique take on the found footage genre, and some great gore moments, but I have some problems with the ending. That being said, if you are a fan of the found footage genre, you might have some fun with this one, as I ultimately did.

So that I don’t confuse you with my mismatched prose, I will say that this is a first person, found footage movie inside of a traditional, 3rd person narrative structure. The framing narrative is the investigation into a massacre, yes a massacre, that occurred at a rural abandoned/closed depot for big rigs. The detectives are using digital forensics to piece together how they came to be in possession of several bodies and body parts, most of which are horribly mutilated and charred, and the video footage recovered at the scene. The film’s use of an anchor narrative that is traditional is helpful when delving in and out of the found footage being analyzed. This allows us to understand exactly why we are watching said found footage, an often confusing and convoluted conceit in many stand alone found footage entries. With this movie, we understand that we are uncovering leads as the investigators are uncovering them. And this is where the fun AND the problems that I have with this movie begins.

The movie’s secondary narrative that we see through the found footage is that a small crew of models and crew are traveling down a deserted stretch of highway and their bus crashes, seemingly for no obvious reasons. It is discovered that someone has rigged a trap of sorts for a vehicle to drive through, destroying the vehicle in the process. Within walking distance is what appears to be an abandoned or closed tractor trailer depot for drivers to stop for repairs and refueling. Throughout the night, the small band of stranded motorists begin contending with an unseen predator who begins picking them off in some disturbing and violent ways. And while even I was cringing at some of the ways people were being dispatched throughout, I admit that it was a fun experience to see this cat-and-mouse game unfold.

However, considering how the movie turns out, and with minimal spoilers, I will say that the level of violence against women in this movie is kinda disturbing unto itself. I mean, let’s be honest, if anyone should be abhorred by any violence, we should be abhorred against violence across the board that is perpetrated against anyone, regardless of our precious notions of gender and class. In horror, these distinctions can either be everything to its read, or simply distraction to the narrative. In this case, I will say it is the former. The way gender violence is perpetrated in this movie makes the movie another level of disturbing – but one thing that violence is, as its own wickedly applied abstraction, is fair and it is the distribution of violence that is equal or unequal. Those who wield the power to dish out violence is usually what is the unfair advantage, and in this movie, that might be the more horrifying aspect of the movie, combined with a simple motivation for the carnage.

And with that being laid out, another and more important issue for me is how convenient the ending felt after the big reveal. Again, I won’t go into spoilers, but this is an example of a mastermind who calculated to an almost perfect precision how each move and reaction would play out, which is almost never possible. And I know, it’s just a movie. But my level of investment in the characters by a certain point in the movie dictated a better and less simplistic pay off. When coupled with the issues with gender as the revelation brings to me, coupled with the unsatisfying narrative pay off, I have reservations about this movie. But the movie kinda-sorta redeems itself in spite of itself, in that the movie has a maniacal glee about the game it is playing with not only the audience, but with the protagonists of the main narrative frame. There are times when they begin to become suspicious of one another, which is a nice twist in horror and thriller movies, having the “heroes” turn against one another.

All things considered, you might really enjoy Evidence, given its narrative twist on the found footage genre, but you might get turned off by the disturbing distribution of violence to all involved, as well as the unsatisfying narrative-deprived ending. Watch at your own risk.

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