REVIEW – The Evil in Us: political, fun & scary

I got way more than I bargained for after watching this Canadian horror flick.

I’ll admit: the premise is unoriginal, and the horror concept is a trope we’ve seen before, but The Evil in Us, which originally made it to the box office in 2016, is getting a homecoming screening at the Rio Theatre on Monday, May 1.

The plot: six friends go out to a remote cabin to celebrate fourth of July. However, something sinister befalls them while they enjoy their time away – and turns most of them into crazy, rabid zombie cannibals.

As a big horror fan who has been mostly disappointed in the last few years, I’ll admit: I was skeptical. I think the last time I can remember being incredibly pleased by a horror film was watching Don’t Breathe; prior to that, nothing else really comes to mind as ‘wowing’ me.

Director Jason Lee doesn’t mess around, though. The smarter directors know you have to hit the ‘all’ in the all-or-nothing horror category within the first five minutes if you’re going to get the audience to stick around, and the opening scene was enough to tell me he meant business.

What intrigues me about this film are the political tones at play. The most prominent are is the sort of “don’t do drugs” idea. It’s a message that comes at a pretty appropriate time right across Canada (with the fentanyl crisis). Yet the message doesn’t feel forced; it’s something I found myself experiencing as a light bulb moment after viewing the film – I definitely didn’t get bopped over the head with it.

I was grateful for the balance of blood and gore present in this film. Sure, there are the few scenes where it seemed a little crude, but for one of Lee’s first major films, it can be visually digested. Some of the scenes and especially the opening credits are more artsy than others; some are blatant nods to films like The Evil Dead. The music is also something else; I personally enjoyed the soundtrack (the kind of music was actually unexpected for me, personally) and felt it did a good job at heightening my experience.

If there’s anything I have to knock this film for, it’s for some of the characters. I was rooting for some more than others towards the end, but I wish a few more had received a bit more development. I feel I didn’t have enough information to fully relate to or empathize with the usual handful that I get to with these kinds of flicks. In many cases, I couldn’t tell if I absolutely loved a character or hated one; I was too on-the-fence about the majority to really pick (a) team(s). I did enjoy Brie’s character, but I felt like that was the only option given to me to like.

Generally, the acting is promising and gets the job done, but falls a little short of getting me to feel explicitly sorry for/not sorry for a character. I think that’s often where a lot of the fun lies with horror films: placing some kind of bet on a character (sometimes when you’re watching with your friends, it may involve a little cash – but hey, that’s up to you!), cheering them on and then if they die – well, thanks for playing.

Overall, the foreshadowing and slight twists are a fun ride, and the message is there. I definitely think this is worth seeing in the theatres if you can. Solid three out of five from me.

The film will be showing at the Rio Theatre on Monday, May 1. Click here to find out more about purchasing tickets ahead. The showing is 19+.

I had the good fortune of speaking with director Jason Lee and Marina Pasqua, who plays Roxanne in the film. We discussed the experiences they had making The Evil in Us – give it a listen below!

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