Evil Ed

Evil Ed ★★½

What drew me to this low budget horror flick was the amazing cover art by Arrow Video. This grinning maestro surrounded by monsters and makeup effects fiends is very enticing for a horror fan. Going into the movie you immediately sense that director Anders Jacobsson is a man who was weaned on the likes of Dead Alive, The Evil Dead, and Friday the 13th. He borrows heavily from all of these features including their filmmaking techniques. Sam Raimi’s flying camera is employed quite often through out the movie to indicate the imagined supernatural forces possessing movie editor Eddie Tor Swenson (Johan Rudebeck). What’s really happening is that after hours upon hours of having to edit splatter pictures, Eddie begins to lose his mind. He works for a European movie distributor and his primary experience is at editing black and white art pictures. We see an example of one early on in the movie where Eddie is working around very old stiffs who can barely carry reels of film from one side of the room to another. I don’t know if I completely appreciate Jacobsson’s assessment of art house movies, since I feel that Europe makes some of the best of their kind across the world however, I also understand that the perspective of this movie is supposed to a be a very juvenile one. When we see the kinds of movies that producer Sam Campbell (Olof Rhodin) produces, we realize that the very movie we’re watching is the same kind of low brow slasher picture.
      What’s interesting about this movie for me is that I just finished reading an article covering director Tom Holland. Holland, as you probably know, directed Fright Night. He was talking about the idea of elevated horror. Movies like Hereditary, The Witch, or the new Suspiria are considered elevated horror. The gist of the article is basically that Tom Holland doesn’t think there’s really an elevated horror. It all boils down to the viewers and their preferences. Holland didn’t obviously make elevated horror. He made FUN horror. What’s the ultimate difference? Besides awards accolades. So interestingly enough I feel that Jacobsson draws a line in the sand and tries to skewer arthouse cinema, but he leaves out the idea of elevated horror. He doesn’t skewer Rosemary’s Baby or The Exorcist. It seems to me that this absence is conspicuous. Almost like those films are part of the horror club rather than some loftier echelon of movies. I found myself reviewing The Omen earlier this year. I actually didn’t realize that I in fact was looking at The Omen as a film that isn’t elevated horror. I compared it to Rosemary’s Baby and The Exorcist, but I said that it’s not at those two movies level. Now I realize that in a way I do categorize horror movies as elevated or non elevated. What does that mean? Have I been conditioned by the film establishment? I also recall reading an interview with Sam Raimi where he’s happy that movies like Get Out are getting awards love and yet he expressed a fear that horror movies were going to be too awards friendly. He thinks that horror works well because it’s sort of like the film industries ugly-red-headed-stepchild. Being on the fringes of movies gives horror a lot of liberty to be very challenging. To do things other movies don’t have the guts to do. That’s a lot of thoughts that went through my head as I watched this movie. 
      Is this film any good? That really depends. Jacobsson relies on gore and really juvenile humor. He loves The Evil Dead. There are posters for all kinds of genre classics plastered all over this movie. The film commandeers a lot of the filming styles of these movies, as I mentioned above, but it doesn’t establish an identity of its own. And it doesn’t have much of a story. For instance, Eddie has a wife and child at home. He’s losing his mind and yet I couldn’t correlate any of this to his family. His wife comes to visit the house he’s been relegated to for his editing projects. He tries to kill her and his daughter. None of this really means anything. It’s just a contrivance set up to have the fiendish monster of the movie try and kill someone. There’s no difference between Eddie’s wife or the producer that he hates. So we’re really enduring this film just for the gore effects which are plenty. And all of the horror Easter eggs scattered through out. There’s a gremlin like monster hiding in Eddie’s fridge. It’s a fun design and yet I found myself slightly bored at this point in the movie. As much as I like monsters I kept wishing that Jacobsson found more filmmaking ingenuity. I wished that the gremlin monster had something more interesting to do. Another wasted opportunity is a scene where a young man is in the hospital with his girlfriend visiting him. She sits at his bedside. Prior to her going in we see Eddie skulking down the hallway in her direction. He’s wearing a lab jacket so she thinks he’s a doctor, not a murdering psychopath. The way the shot of her sitting at the bed is framed is really good. You have the door in the background between her and her boyfriend. The door has a small window on it. You wait with anticipation because it’s only a matter of time before Eddie’s face shows up at the small window. The tension starts to build. Just when you wait for the payoff Jacobsson miscalculated and cuts to a closeup of the boyfriend and then the girlfriend. The tension completely deflates from the scene. Then he follows it with a closeup of the window which is when Eddie’s murderous visage finally shows up. To me this is poor filmmaking. All bells and whistles, but no panache. No style. Just by the numbers. That kind of sums up a lot of what’s wrong with this movie. 
     Fun concept and cool gore effects. That’s this movies biggest draw. And it’s a good conversation starter about our ideas of categorizing horror. This notion of elevated horror. One of the posters in this movie is Martin Scorsese’s Cape Fear remake. How many of you consider Cape Fear to be horror!? Is it too elevated to deserve that designate? Or do you feel that Cape Fear is one of the horror communities triumphs! These are all very interesting thoughts to chew on. I wish this movie would’ve been as interesting as the conversation that it engenders. Watch this if you love splatter. That’s the only recommendation I can give it. It doesn’t match the movies that it professes to love and yet I think Jacobsson’s efforts are exemplary. And it’ll make you want to watch great horror movies! That’s a win win scenario for me!

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