The Evil Within 2017
The sadistic tale of a lonely, mentally handicapped boy who befriends his reflection in an antique mirror. This demonic creature orders him to go on a murderous rampage to kill the people he loves most.
February 26, 2017
Frederick Koehler, Sean Patrick Flanery, Dina Meyer, and Michael Berryman
The Evil Within is the ambitious debut feature from writer/director Andrew Getty, who is said to have sunk as much as $6M of his own money into it; the film also dedicated to his memory. After passing suddenly during the final stages of production, it was up to the project’s producers to bring The Evil Within to fruition, an exhaustive but ultimately successful endeavor that took a total of 15 years. The Hollywood Reporter ran an in-depth expose a couple weeks back:
Producer Michael Luceri: “After Andrew died, I made it my mission to see that his film was completed. I have been on this project from the beginning. Andrew was such a perfectionist, each and every shot had to be perfect before he would move on. When he was young, Andrew told me that he would have these really powerful, twisted dreams, so scary that he didn’t want to believe they came from inside him, so he had this idea that it was this ’storyteller’ who created the dreams, and that became the genesis of the film’s story.”
The emotional backstory surrounding The Evil Within only enhances what is already a fantastic, sophisticated creeper that doesn’t shy from truly terrifying explorations of secrets, lies, and madness. It’s gripping, disturbing, and beautiful in a way that those who appreciate the macabre will adore. The opening scene is a dream turned nightmare depicting an empty carnival on an infinite desert wasteland; it’s enough to make anyone feel like they’ve taken some bad acid at Burning Man. A spin through a janky, animatronic house of horrors becomes a never-ending descent into a hostile Abyss.
Official Synopsis: The sadistic tale of a lonely, mentally handicapped boy who befriends his reflection in an antique mirror. This demonic creature orders him to go on a murderous rampage to kill the people he loves most.
The film stars Frederick Koehler, Sean Patrick Flanery, Dina Meyer, and Michael Berryman as a manifestation of evil who will shock you breathless.
In the summer of 1976, serial killer David Richard Berkowitz, aka Son of Sam, committed a spree of murders throughout New York City. When he was eventually apprehended, he claimed that he was forced to commit the crimes at the behest of a neighbor’s barking dog, who pestered him relentlessly and refused to let him sleep. While it’s the kind of excuse we’re used to hearing from those we write off as irredeemable sociopaths, The Evil Within poses a unique question; without addressing Berkowitz directly, The Evil Within asks: What if the dog really did make him do it?
Frederick Koehler plays Dennis, the mentally challenged main character who becomes seduced and manipulated by his reflection in an antique mirror. But Getty won’t allow us to blame his future crimes on a birth defect or character flaw. Dennis struggles to identify the source of the voices commanding him, reasoning that if they come from within himself, he’s irrefutably insane. Wrong: The dog is real remember? The Evil Within makes mirrors terrifying again, not for instilling them with curses or meandering entities, but for suggesting there’s an entire world on the other side. It’s a darker world, but one that beckons nonetheless. It’s a world where Berkowitz’s dog is king.
The Evil Within is one hell of a ride, a harrowing tumble into a rabbit hole both thrilling and devastating. The film is intercut with bizarre and engrossing stop-motion effects that take us out of our minds and into upside-down dimensions. An obsession with animatronics turns psychotic as puppets seek to seize control from the masters. It echoes the supernatural world of Beetlejuice, but it’s someplace altogether more horrifying. A nod to The Shining has us waiting for axes to drop. Even when we escape the claustrophobic view of Patrick’s perspective, following instead his “normal” brother John (Sean Patrick Flanery), we’re still nauseatingly off-kilter, trapped in a world that looks familiar but feels different; it’s a Twilight Zone moment that’s truly unnerving to contemplate. Like the film’s protagonist, we’re trapped in a nightmarish Fun House without an exit.
Michael Berryman’s character is called Cadaver, but he represents something ancient and eternal: Legion. He’s a villain whose presence produces a visceral, guttural reaction that’s almost impossible to shake. His natural characteristic in the hands of Getty’s obsessively detailed direction makes for top-notch visual horror.
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The Evil Within defies easy categorization: It’s everything you want in a haunted house story without ghosts; it’s a psychological horror without a clinical lifeline; it’s a slasher story without bloodlust, a possession saga without demons or exorcists, a creature feature without physical monsters and a metaphysical mind-boggler that taps into something primal. Andrew Getty may be gone from this earth, but The Evil Within stands as a testament to a bright career cut short. The film deserves to endure, though, by its own merits: It’s a strong, uncompromising vision that’s instantly compelling, perfectly paced, and hypnotically unfurled.
The Evil Within is a film I will enjoy watching again and again for years to come.