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Evil (To Kako) (2006)
16th Jun 07
Zombies attack Athens. That’s it really.
Here at Eat My Brains headquarters, as the name suggests, we’re rather fond of our zombie movies. Which is just as well, as there’s a wealth of zombie pics appearing from every corner of the globe right now; we’ve already had Australian zombies (Undead), French zombies (They Came Back), German zombies (Night Of The Living Dorks), Thai zombies (SARS War) and don’t-call-them-zombies (28 Weeks Later), and now it’s the turn of Greece to muscle in on the party with Evil, their first foray into the realm of the undead.
The outbreak begins up in the mountainous caves on the outskirts of Athens where three miners are overcome by a strange presence (cue red filter) and have no recollection of getting home. Later that evening we see the three men relaxing; one watching the match at home with his family, one at a ball game, and one out clubbing with friends. Then suddenly, the infection takes hold, their eyes burn red and all three men are feasting on the closest piece of available warm flesh. And very quickly all hell breaks loose on the city’s streets!
The story couldn’t be simpler; zombies attack, humans run and hide… and repeat for 80 minutes. There’s no wider context, no distracting sub-plots, it’s just a straightforward battle between one group of survivors and the ever expanding mass of the undead. Our rag-tag band of humans form as Jenny (Tsoni), the daughter of one of the miners, flees from her house collecting her neighbour Marina (Moschovakou) along the way. After taking sanctuary in a deserted building for the night they conveniently manage to hook up with Marina’s fella Meletis (Georgiadis), and then run into taxi driver Argyris (Thanasoulas) and his passengers Dimitra (Thornopoulou) and Andreas (Kontopoulos).
So that’s the plot dispensed with, how do the Greeks tackle the zombie action? Writer and director Yorgos Noussias opts for the rapid response method, with the infection spreading to the newly slaughtered within seconds. These zombies are quick little buggers too, running through the streets infused with bloodlust, none of the slow, vacant stumbling traditionally associated with the genre. Whilst their make-up may be suitably blood-caked sadly the zombie extras themselves are a pretty hopeless bunch and can’t carry it off convincingly which is a crying shame. Honestly, you EMB regulars out there would have done much better job, believe me!
When the attacks come they’re straight out of the Peter Jackson manual for low-budget filmmakers, with the gore flying in the most over-the-top fashion. It’s as if our heroes suddenly develop special superhuman strength as they’re able to dispatch their assailants in a variety of outlandish methods; there are plenty of classic dismemberments to enjoy here including arm ripping, torso splitting, fists through the stomach and my own personal favourite, decapitation by punching. All good stuff, but it’s slightly jarring in tone having the carnage played for laughs when the rest of the film is largely played straight.
There are one or two other amusing scenes, usually involving the horny Argyris and his advances towards Dimitra, which culminate in a shockingly funny toe-sucking encounter. Yet it’s hard to muster too much enthusiasm for a film that offers so little in the way of character development, and this micro-budgeted exercise is cruelly exposed by the shortcomings of the actors employed, none of whom really ever embrace their roles with much conviction. Evil is also let down by a cheesy soundtrack comprised of tinny electronics and squealing guitar licks which adds nothing to the film’s atmosphere.
Whilst Noussias’s writing falls well short of delivering an original story, he does show some promise as a director, utilising a lot of fluid camera moves. The editing – which he was also responsible for – is also assured, giving a rhythm to the scenes and at points employing the split screen technique favoured by 24 to good effect. The film’s final pull-back is right out of the top drawer, beautiful and chilling in equal measure. If he can ditch the screenwriting and concentrate on his skills behind the camera then there’s an outside chance he could be snapped up and working in Hollywood within the next few years, if that’s the path he wants to take.
For now though the first Greek zombie movie merely hints at a potential talent cutting his teeth on a very limited budget. As a piece of cinema, Evil brings nothing new to an already crowded marketplace, but if you don’t mind a dose of slapstick splatter at the expense of an engaging storyline then it may be worth your time – and at a trim 80 minutes it won’t test your patience too much.
Evil is available on DVD from TLA Releasing in the UK and you can visit the film’s website at www.tokako.com.