Evil (To Kako)
TLA Releasing // Unrated // $24.99 // January 30, 2007
Review by Adam Tyner | posted February 17, 2007
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A great many things have emerged from Greece to reshape art and culture the world over throughout the past five thousand years, but a zombie flick...? Astonishingly, not among 'em. Gorehound and first-time filmmaker Yorgos Noussias stepped in to change that with To Kako, which I guess is Greek for "28 Days Later II". His Hellenic, low-budget zombie epic is making its way stateside as Evil, courtesy of our pals at Danger After Dark.

I think this is the part of the review where I'm supposed to slap together some sort of plot summary, but it's your standard issue zombie apocalypse formula. Y'know, introduce a few characters, and...hey, zombies! Run. Find shelter. Talk talk talk. Zombies! Run. Find shelter. Toss in a few more characters. Talk talk talk. Zombies! Run. Find shelter. Kill off one or two characters but replace 'em with a few more. Talk talk talk. Zombies! Run and lose half your cast along the way to a bleak, nihilistic ending. Fade to black. Roll credits. Character-wise, you have your gruff Sarah Connor type, the horny comic relief, the uptight working girl who randomly kicks arse for the something or another, the middle-aged family man minus the family, the shell-shocked, nubile teenager, the rogue soldier...you know the drill.

...and that's okay. I don't need sterling characterization or a stunningly original plot. Just gimme two scoops of dead people munching on the living, and I'm good to go. The problem's that Evil struggles with its budget more than its characters do with the legions of the undead. I guess they didn't have enough cash handy to rustle up a lot of zombies, and for all but a few seconds of the flick, the city of Athens seems more deserted than infested. There isn't a persistent sense of dread...of being hopelessly outnumbered. The zombies attack in waves, and instead of spreading out the mayhem, it comes in a few concentrated doses. There are some gruesome kills -- intestinal strangling, death by cutlery, shoe stabbing, splitting a rotten noggin straight down the middle, and a hatchet handle through the mouth, to rattle off...well, most of them -- but not nearly enough of the red stuff is sloshed around for a movie that likens itself to Dead Alive, and almost all of 'em are dumped into two or three scenes.

Evil's just too okay. Script's okay. The rather pretty cast is okay. The direction goes too nuts with paneled frames, quick cuts, and clunky blocking, but it's passably okay. Evil just seems like a movie I've seen a couple hundred times before, and with as many zombie flicks as you can grab off the shelf, there's not much of a reason to pick Evil up over any other. It's an unevenly paced, paint-by-numbers zombie flick that's too devoid of tension to work as a horror movie and isn't well-funded or imaginative enough to work as an over-the-top splatter-comedy. Zombie completists might want to give this DVD a rental, but Evil is too ordinary and forgettable to claw its way out of the grave for a second round. Rent It.

Video: The flipside of the keepcase promises 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen video, and although they got the 1.85:1 part right, the anamorphic...? Not so much. The letterboxed, non-anamorphic image is kinda mediocre, having more of a Video On Demand look to it than a shiny, newly minted DVD. I'm sure a lot of that's just a result of the low-budget DV photography, though. The image often has a shimmering, aliased appearance, and the softness, anemic contrast, persistent video noise, and drab, lifeless colors are pretty much what you'd expect from an underlit, guerilla-style shoot. 'Sokay.

Audio: Evil sports a surprisingly muscular Dolby Digital 5.1 mix, boasting a devastatingly heavy low-frequency kick and booming surrounds. Presented in its original Greek, Evil's dialogue is kinda meek by comparison and doesn't have nearly the full-bodied presence of the sound effects. The dialogue comes through alright though, and it's not too overwhelmed by the rattling bass and the moans of the undead in the rears. Optional English subtitles are popped on by default, natch, and there's a 2.0 Greek track if you're not into the whole multichannel thing.

Extras: Not much: just a letterboxed teaser and a small still gallery.

The DVD serves up a set of animated 4x3 menus, and the movie's been divided into twelve chapters.

Conclusion: Evil is a competent but routine homebrew zombie epic that's only particularly remarkable for being a rare slice of Hellenic horror. If you're looking for a foreign zombie flick with a more consistently demented sense of humor and barrel drums more splatter, take a look at Argentina's Plaga Zombie: Mutant Zone instead. Rent It.

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