Our Evil Movie Review
Written by Becky Roberts
Released by Matchbox Films
Written and directed by Samuel Galli
2017, 92 minutes, Rated 18 (UK)
DVD released on 26th December 2017
Ademir Esteves as Arthur
Ricardo Casella as Charles (assassin)
Gabriela Grecco as Alice
We’re all familiar with that brief chill you can get from walking into a pitch-black room before you hit the light switch. Well, Samuel Galli’s Brazilian (Portuguese-language) debut feature is more or less a 90-minute embodiment of that sensation, inherently unnerving from the very first bar of the oscillating synth that scores the opening frames (yes, Our Evil relishes the ‘80s horror synth revival with everything it’s got).
Spiritualist Arthur gets in touch with an infamously callous and, ahem, thorough assassin online to arrange the murder of his daughter. But – alas! – not all is what it seems when the deed is done and the assassin learns more about Arthur’s past and the role he’s been set up to play in it.
There’s a sense that Galli, like an emerging musician cramming his lifetime musical influences into his debut EP, is trying to squeeze every element of the horror genre into Our Evil; there’s supernatural, stalker, exorcism, religious cult and torture porn inspirations – even a guardian angel clown too. Sure, that eclectic combination raises eyebrows and what-the-fuck moments, but while teasing manifold directions, Our Evil doesn’t suffer from its extraordinary experimentalism, instead appearing duly calculated in both its concept and execution.
Almost the movie epitome of Ryan Gosling in a Nicholas Winding-Refn movie, it can communicate a lot without many words (rather, wobbly electronica walks around otherwise silent scenes like a skulking teenager). It’s not in a hurry to give much away either, savouring lingering frames to build tension – one at the dinner table is especially unbearable as the wait for the inevitable is deliberately drawn out.
Its narrative pacing often walks a fine line between frustratingly enduring and thoughtfully crafted, and to its credit manages to stay just within bounds of the latter – helped by an intriguing performance by Ademir Esteves as the withdrawn and debilitated Arthur, as well as the occasional sadistic shake-up; opening with a close-up of a brutally graphic mutilation scene is a bold start from Galli, and one he follows through with several moments of explicit violence and imagery.
An imaginatively executed and ambitious revenge story chock full of shocks and surprises, Our Evil succeeds in putting Brazil back on the genre map, even if its narrative game is perhaps given up a little too early by Galli, who ultimately paves a pathway to a satisfying, albeit not wholly surprising, climax.