We of course want greatness from all movies we watch, but there’s something to be said for films that are so bad they cross over into reprehensible or just blow your mind with their ineptitude.
There are certain narrative and cultural rules most filmmakers must follow, not to tow some mainstream line, but to keep stories from being super weird or abject. Occasionally, people who do not possess an innate sense of these rules get to make movies anyway. The films they make aren’t very good, but they often contain certain fascinating qualities. This is a huge reason why I like Tyler Perry so much.
On the outset, it appeared The Evil Within would be one of these films, made with a kind of astounding budget over the course of many years, The Evil Within is the life’s work of Andrew Getty, a guy who definitely knew what he wanted and got it at all costs. Why he wanted THIS is none of our business, and we can’t ask him anyway because he’s dead.
Against all odds, the film is about to come out. Andrew Getty died before he could see its release, but you could also say he was spared the severe critical drubbing this movie is going to get.
After ten minutes of aimless narration, almost all of which could be repackaged as heavy metal lyrics, Getty finally lets us in on the fact that this film’s protagonist will be a whiny mentally handicapped person. It’s a real record scratch moment because obviously no good will come to this and you still have so much movie yet to go.
Frederick Koehler, who definitely owns a copy of What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, plays Dennis, a special-needs guy who lives with his hot brother (Sean Patrick Flanery). Hot brother has a hot girlfriend and she’s not too hot on Dennis living with them. Hot brother tries to make everyone happy by buying Dennis a gigantic mirror for his bedroom. Hot Brother is clearly not getting paid for his brains. The Mirror has a Michael Berryman demon in it who seduces Dennis to murder with the promise of making his brain a real big boy someday.
There’s ugliness to go around with this one. Dennis doesn’t start out offing humans, for instance; he works his way up with dog and cats first just in case people weren’t already offended and aghast at this movie. He also totally cock blocks Hot Brother.
It would be easy to dismiss The Evil Within because most of it is boring and awful, but I can’t. Andrew Getty spent a ton of money on this, and at times it really shows. Whenever the film is in full-on horror mode, it sports imagery that is both original and effective. The opening ten minutes, while marred by awful dialog, is full of examples, including one bit in particular in which Michael Berryman nails a zipper to Dennis’ back, unzips it, and then shoves into his body. Say what you want about the rest of the film, that stuff is impressive.
So it’s not all bad. The film definitely offers and interesting look at what a wacko with tons of money can do if he tries hard enough. But it’s also really tiring to sit through. I would not recommend watching it alone. This deserves to be seen with a group full of friends ready to watch something truly abnormal. If you do get a viewing party like that together, make sure to sit through the end credits. There’s no stinger; the credits themselves are amazing.