Surviving Evilby Nathan Zeno / 09.07.2009
Never has a film been so aptly titled. The experience of watching this Colin Moss vehicle has to be survived because it’s so evil. It’s evil because it’s actually quite well made, as well made as derivative cliché B grade horror movies starring Billy Zane and some zombies (not a reference to Colin Moss’s acting, yet) can be. But that only lasts until about two thirds in. Then it’s just like, shit, I was kinda enjoying the overload of stolen horror elements, pseudo soft-core teen porn and standard suspense build up music and then, “Pow!” Suddenly I wasn’t anymore.
Surviving Evil is about a documentary/reality tv series crew’s foray onto a remote island in the Philippines to make episode 183 of their series. But wait, it’s not all rosy, the boatman who drops them off, doesn’t want to stay, he’ll be back in six days. Leaving them with no way off the island for… six days! The cameraman (Note to Colin Moss: I’m sure the director made you go with a British accent, it’s not entirely your fault but surely, after “Idols” you must know at least one decent voice coach) is making eyes at the research assistant; the producer is drinking because she’s in love with the cameraman. The sound girl thinks she might be pregnant with Billy Zane’s baby. And the native guide has a secret. It’s standard popcorn horror that in the forty minutes of exposition manages to take in mythological zombie product-of-oppression beasts, Japanese gold and bleeding trees. Borrowing heavily from the Blair Witch aesthetic of choppy cuts and camera POV’s, it manages to keep pace well enough until the final attack.
The mythical, and conveniently, shape shifting creatures are kept from view in a successful attempt to heighten suspense, when they appear the are only revealed back lit and in whip pans and it works, they are quite well made for the genre and more than a little creepy. But after the slow build up, all the character exposition (so that you can root for them as they get picked off one by one) the zombie/vampires suddenly attack en masse and very quickly dispatch of nearly everyone, in a comparatively short amount of time. Which basically leaves the audience with one question, if it was going to be so easy why did they take so long just hanging out in the jungle acting spooky and preparing their victims for the attack?
The unexplained dogs that are only there for a moment, the horrible prosthetic bellies, the bad CG flying zombies, the horrible digital explosion, all bring the film crashing down in a desperate attempt to set us up for a sequel. All initial promise is lost, except, of course, for the promise of Colin as a zombie in the sequel, I like the idea of him covered in one of those scary vine/dreadlock wigs that feature so prominently.
The actors acquit themselves admirably, but with this material they didn’t have a fighting chance. It’s almost as if the budget of the film dictated that there could only be so much actual attacking and they decided to jam it all in in the last thirty minutes. There is a seeming randomness to most of the occurrences that, I’m sure, could be explained by the filmmakers, but leave the audience wondering, “where did that come from?” And not in a I’m-Shitting-My-Pants kinda way either. Oh and the name of the mythical creatures? The Aswang. The Ass Wang! Need I say more?