Thursday, February 11, 2016

LIVE-EVIL (2015): Dead on Arrival

Theatrical poster for LIVE-EVIL (2015)
Theatrical poster for LIVE-EVIL (2015) - image source: Clint Morris


Described in a press release as "'Ghostbusters' meets 'Dawn of the Dead' as seen through Rod Serling's 'Twilight Zone'", LIVE-EVIL (2015) is a rather ambitious indie horror-comedy film. But does it measure up to the icons that it strives to emulate?



Background and Credits



Written and directed by Ari Kirschenbaum, LIVE-EVIL stars Vladimir Kulich ("The Equalizer"), Charlene Amoia (of "How I Met Your Mother" fame), Vincent M. Ward ("Ocean’s Eleven"),  J. Richey Nash ("Fabled") and the legendary Tony Todd ("Candyman", TVs "The Flash"). Bruce Kirschenbaum executive-produced the film. Laura Irvine was the producer.

Story Summary


Montage of stills from LIVE-EVIL (2015)
Montage of stills from LIVE-EVIL (2015) - image source: Clint Morris


A small college-town police station is besieged by "Evil" on a sleepy Halloween night when Sheriff's Deputy Hancock (Amoia) locks up a demonically-possessed prisoner in the basement jail. The demon is a force that preys upon each person's worst fear, winning over all but the strongest-willed. An increasingly bizarre and horrific chain of events is set in motion that could destroy the town and possibly the world. Sheriff Pete (Kulich), Hancock, and other loyal deputies are thrown into the middle of a supernatural chess-game as the dead rise from their graves in two opposing groups. Can anyone help them? College professors? The state police? The FBI? The local pastor (Todd)?


Commentary


Still from LIVE-EVIL (2015)
Deputy Hancock (Amoia) spends an entire scene deciding whether to get back in the police cruiser - image source: Clint Morris

The ambitious nature of this film is obvious. It begins with an elaborate title sequence that impresses but is too long. Title cards break the story into sections. The film begins in monochrome, but switches to color at a turning point that is apparently significant. There is a lot of gunfire from various weapons, cars being shot up, and even a private airplane. The film presents its supernatural horror through both retro practical effects (costuming and special FX makeup) and CGI. The former are impressive, the latter less so.

The story, however, is all over the place. It tries to do too much. Its premise is not well developed and competes with other tropes, resulting in a story with several subplots that just aren't tied together well. The characters are mere cookie-cutter figures that are too flat, even for a linear horror-comedy story. On top of the story and character development problems, the film editing makes matters worse by being over-inclusive. There is much that could have been cut to tighten the focus, but ambition led to leaving it all in.

The acting is not that good, but most of this problem can be attributed to the underdeveloped roles that the actors had to play and the lame lines they were given to speak. The dialogue clearly strives at times for dark humor, but often falls flat. Otherwise, it is pure cheese -- and not the tasty kind. Amoia provides the most consistent and likeable character in her role as Hancock. Kulich comes in a close second as the Sheriff. Todd has a very limited role that takes up just a few minutes of screen time. Rather than building up to Todd's appearance, the film makes his presence seem like an afterthought. Perhaps it was.

Summary


There are good horror films and bad horror films. Within the latter category, there are some movies that are so bad that they're good. LIVE-EVIL unfortunately does not qualify for this subcategory, as it is just plain bad. The main reason is that it strives to impress with filmmaking technique, while at the same time it suffers from flaws in its story and character development. These writing mistakes cursed this over-ambitious project from the beginning, causing the kind of problems in production that just cannot be fixed in post.


TFK's Rating (on IMDb): 2 out of 10 stars





Disclosure: Clint Morris of C2C Talent provided TFK with access to an online screener of this film for review purposes only. This website and its author received no monetary compensation for this review.