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Evil Things



Unlike the knock-offs that followed in "Blair Witch"'s wake a decade ago
("The St. Francisville Experiment," anyone?), the new crop realizes
there's more to the subgenre than merely tweaking the title. (Well,
everyone but The Asylum and their "Paranormal Entity.")

In first-time writer/director Dominic Perez's "Evil Things," five
college students (whose actors are largely as green as he) embark on a
snowy road trip to the in-the-woods country home of one of their aunts
for a weekend birthday bash, and never, ever return.

Them being among the Wired Generation, they naturally tape the entire
damn thing, so we can see what happened to them. For a while, that's not
a lot, giving us time to get to know them. While they're naive as so
many collegians are wont, the characters are not donkey-braying annoying
as is usually the case with these features.

Their first brush with trouble comes while driving to their destination,
in a "Duel"-style incident of road rage where their opponent apparently
follows them to a diner where they stop to eat. Of course, that person
eventually shows up at the house after they do; otherwise, there'd be no

Going in with no expectations, I was pleasantly surprised at how
effective it is. That's not to say it's really scary so much as it is
compelling. Events unfold at a realistic pace, the kids' terror seems
utterly genuine, and it doesn't devolve into torture porn or anything;
in fact, it hews to the theory your mind will make up images more
frightening than Perez could conjure for the camera.

The ending is near-perfect, but then Perez allows the tapes to keep
unspooling for chances at more chills. It diminishes the effect only
slightly. —Rod Lott

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