Evil Inside 2011

Clearly trying to piggyback off the cinema-released The Devil Inside, there’s little comparison between that and this, The Evil Inside, other than in name. Helmed by independent horror director Pearry Reginald Teo (Necromentia), this indie film is a fusion of East and West chillers, taking elements of American teen slasher flicks with the creepiness of the Japanese supernatural genre. It sounds a lot better than it actually is.

The film begins with a teenager, Sarah (Hannah Ward), being physically bullied. For one reason or another, her parents leave her at home despite the fact she is evidently mentally unstable. In the meantime, intercutting shots of six other teens are shown, with it then revealing that they are planning on having a unexpected party around Sarah’s house.

Once the random party is in full flow, Sarah slowly begins to have premonitions of each guest’s demise. This starts to happen after one accidental death, and the group begin turning on each other. It is up to Sarah and the party-goers to try and keep it together to prove that her premonitions can’t all end up as she envisioned. Or is there something more sinister at play to ensure they do?

Taking into account that this is obviously low budget, it has a surprisingly creepy score akin to that of The Pact. What is more, as it is mainly set in one location, Sarah’s house, the fear factor definitely had the potential to develop amongst the small group setting. This is where any positives the film has, ends.

Dark shots hide cheap production values but that is nothing compared to the cast. As one might expect, it is atrocious. Hannah Ward tries hard as the disturbed Sarah – and she may well do a decent job – but the plot and trite dialogue severely hamper any noticeable performance she may have put in. Half the time there’s difficulty in actually trying to understand what she’s saying behind her snivelling.

On top of that, the amateurish male and female support overacts to the point of it making the film unwatchable. Wes, played by James Adam Lim, is particularly appalling in this way. The interactions between the characters, the random bits of dialogue (“get ready to suck a ton of cock for roles bitch, because you suck period”), and the way they suddenly change, make no sense. Even the ‘twist’ at the end that attempts to put logic in them does not make you feel any better, especially after having endured enough bad acting to start appreciating the ability of Keanu Reeves.

The scares are few and far between, with the majority using the same cheap tactic of sudden screeching music when something moves quickly behind a character. And just when things appear to start getting interesting, it reverts back to the teens to shoot down any atmosphere that it attempts to build.

The Evil Inside has one or two obligatory jumps and a fairly decent score, so it saves itself from getting zero stars. Regardless whether it is a B-movie, straight-to-DVD, or whatever you want to call it, you just can’t hide that it’s poor overall.

Horror fans may appreciate what the director had to work with; he’s certainly proficient to edit a film together. It would be interesting to see what he could produce given better actors and a bigger budget, but ultimately he can only be judged on this. Then again, look at Uwe Boll – it’s likely that Teo could be the Asian counterpart should this happen.

At just under 80 minutes, it more often than not feels like 80 minutes too long. If you can push through the first 15 minutes, you can be guaranteed a lot of crappy performances, unoriginal plot twists, and risible dialogue to make you shudder more than the intended scares. Watching The Evil Inside will make you long for the Devil.

Pearry Reginald Teo is the first director from Singapore to make a film in Hollywood.

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