“Evil” (2005) – A.J. Hakari

If you’re like me, then the closest you’ll ever get to Greece’s picturesque shores is if you’re roped into a Mamma Mia! screening. And if you’re like me, you’ve thought the landscape could do with a few mutilated corpses strewn about. In that case, you’re in luck, as Greece has retired from providing wacky families for ethnic comedies to create its first zombie romp, Evil. Unfortunately, this bizarre distinction is the film’s sole novelty, one that wears off lickety-split. Despite a darkly humorous streak, Evil is pretty much like any other zombie movie out there, proving that not even the Atlantic Ocean itself can wash away the stain of mediocrity.

Whilst toiling on a construction site, a trio of workers uncover a mysterious cave deep in the earth. After heading down to explore, the men are attacked by an unseen entity, only to emerge with no memory of the incident. But as they return to their mundane lives, it’s clear that something has effected the men for the worse. Almost at once, these guys turn from ordinary citizens into rabid zombies, quickly tearing through innocent bystanders in a frantic urge to feed. Mobs of the infected congregate in no time, leaving a requisite band of survivors to fight back. From a wiseass cab driver (Argiris Thanasoulas) to the token badass (Meletis Georgiadis), the group teams up to find some way out of the city, before the living dead consume them all.

It’s strange that while the zombie has gone through many stages of evolution, the zombie film has remained relatively stagnant. The set-up is textbook stuff: ragtag troupe of quirky archetypes deal as much damage to the undead as the effects budget will allow. You’ll see something creative writhe out of the muck every so often, but the genre persists mostly by cheating off of its own homework. In the case of Evil, as derivative as it gets, there is to its credit a sense of fun to the proceedings. The opening moments are especially sardonic and silly, as when the aforementioned cabbie mistakes a zombie mob for rowdy sports hooligans. Gags pop up occasionally throughout, some to break the tension while others (for when there’s a ghoul that needs dispatching) contribute to it. There’s a delightfully scrappy demeanor to the flick, so much so that I find myself more interested in seeing a different film about how this one came to be.

Like most pictures of this sort, Evil is short on cash, but it’s never that big a bother. The zombies themselves are standard issue, though the film makes up for it with some very ambitious splatter sequences. Bodies are halved, heads explode, and one grisly moment takes the term “gut-wrenching” to a whole new level. But while the filmmakers have an eye for gore, they’re not the sharpest of storytellers. Evil possesses little plot to begin with, but what’s left resembles random images whipped into a Romeroesque shape. The cast seems lost when required to act beyond their respective stereotypes, while the editing suffers even worse. Evil regurgitates more arbitrary jump cuts and split-screen effects than an epileptic Michael Bay, culminating in an ending so anticlimactic, you’ll swear the editor keeled over in post-production.

Evil kills time well enough (though not without a few dull patches encountered), but its commitment to zombie basics is its downfall. Without a couple unique traits, what’s there to distinguish your film from those of every budding director nudging their foot into show business the easiest way possible? Evil is serviceable, but there’s little meat to be found on this ditty’s bones.

Rating: ★★☆☆

-A.J. Hakari

Read more of A.J.’s reviews at ReelTalk Movie Reviews, Classic Movie Guide, and Terror Tube.

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