Directed by: Howie Askins
Written by: Ryan McCoy
Featuring: Ryan McCoy, Brett Rosenberg, Ashley Bracken, & Abigail Richie
Production: RynoRyder Productions Inc.
Category: Filming Stuff in the Woods
The sub-genre of “found-footage” style horror seems to be a “love it or hate it” kind of thing. Some people find it dumb or can’t handle the shaky cam effect, others ask too many questions like, “Why are they filming this?” Others find the film style more novel and engaging. I fall into the “love it” category because, when handled with care, FF can feel much more immersive, the horror more personal, and the effects work made more convincing by the lack of “proper”camera work. But I will admit that most of the time it just makes the guy with the camera a total asshole, causing the other characters to constantly complain about Camera Asshole.
Playing the role of Camera Asshole for our trip today is Ryan (Played by Ryan. Every main character’s name is the actor’s actual name, a common trope in FF as it makes direction easier. I just find it funny for no particular reason.), whose goal is to film a documentary about him and his girlfriend, Ashley, and friends Brett and Abigail while they go on a camping trip. I don’t know any other reason as to why he’s chosen to do this or even what the documentary is supposed to be about. By the way he directs them along the trip it all appears completely candid: “Just tell the camera how you’re feeling.” My parents once made a documentary like that about us during a trip to Hershey Park; It was called a “home movie”.
We get the obligatory sequence of Ryan filming everyone in the car while scenery passes by and everyone is still in high spirits. Once they reach the hills it’s time to ditch the trailer and continue on foot and to the film’s credit the views and vistas we are treated to really are something, I’d happily pitch a tent in just about any one of them. Possibly because of the surroundings, the others playfully put up with Ryan’s filming and pushing Brett into harmless practical jokes, hamming it up for the camera (Abigail got a booty. 😮) and just reveling in nature. Then, while up on a ridge overlooking a ravine, Abigail points out an indistinct dark form down on the opposite side of the pass. She insists that the thing moved and they all try to identify whatever it is but the consensus is that it’s just a tree stump right up until the tree stump suddenly lopes off at high speed into the trees.
If your next thought was that Ryan wants to take everybody down into the ravine to try and track the whatsit, congratulations, you got BINGO! He’s thinking about dollar signs at this point, convinced that he’s captured something rare and very valuable on tape, but Brett is thinking that it’s a very bad idea to go chasing after some big fuck-off thing with the girls along and insists that they return to the safety of the higher trail at once. Ryan isn’t happy about it but he relents that Brett is right and the four continue on, now with less enthusiasm than they had before, so it’s not without more than a little relief when they finally reach a decent place to pitch their tents. Ryan still has them giving individual statements in front of the camera but nobody’s really for it.
The night doesn’t go any better when something starts howling and growling in the woods around their camp site. Ryan is fairly sure it’s just coyotes and that he and Brett can handle something like that should they need to. He doesn’t do a very good job of handling the wild-looking man in fatigues who wanders into their camp while they’re all around the fire, dumbfounded and unsettled as the other three. The weird guy talks about some weird shit and asks if they have any drugs before wandering back off into the woods. So was this guy just messing with them? Possibly, and it would unnerve me as much as any wolf or bear, but the four must believe that their tents are ample protection because they stay anyway.
More growling and croaking in the woods around their camp antagonizes the boys into checking the surrounding trees around their campsite for any would-be prowlers or obnoxious varmints. They probably would have much rather preferred to find some aggressive coyotes instead of the vague, ominous words they find carved into the trunks of several smaller trees. Now convinced that they’re dealing with something that requires immediate attention, everyone flees back to the camper. Brett, Ashley, and Abigail make it back. Brett tells the girls to stay put while he goes back to try and help Ryan. Left alone, the trailer soon comes under assault of whatever is out there, the girls catching only fleeting glimpses of something big moving around the forward and rear cameras of the vehicle. Their assailant then makes a vicious attempt at tearing its way into the camper, sending both girls fleeing out into the night.
As if running through the woods at night being chased by something big that wants to eat you and coming across a dead Brett wasn’t bad enough, they eventually burst into a clearing that appears to be a compound of some sort, as blinding lights flash on and a voice is suddenly heard over a loudspeaker telling them to stay where they are. They proceed to ignore said instructions when a horde of lumbering things bears down on them and the clearing is lit up by gunfire. Ashley and Abigail are going to learn very soon that their situation is a lot worse than it was to begin with, and that Ryan and Brett are about to drop to the bottom of their list of concerns.
Favored Ability: STR. The build-up is slow but when the punch lands it’s a damn good one.
Rating: 3/5 (Average) [+1 Monstrous Multiplier, +1 Mad Science, +1 End Credits Epilogue]
With effects work that’s almost entirely practical and a third-act chock full of sequences that come like a bat to the face after so much hiking and Ryan being an ass, Evidence makes good on repaying time invested in watching it. You don’t necessarily have to be a fan of FF horror movies to enjoy it, you can just be a monster fan, but if the many technical tropes of the sub-genre are on your personal list of pet peeves, you’re probably not going to get as much enjoyment out of Evidence as you would from a more traditional monster flick. There is something to be said for not putting your monsters out in full lighting like you’re showing off in the men’s locker room though, so if you’re looking for a little more atmosphere and can tolerate the shaky-cam give this title a try.
When I do my research into a given movie that I’ve selected for review, I try to provide as much information as I can about production companies so that proper credit can be given where it’s due. In this case I was unable to do so in this case because a) the production company has no website and b) all search results I was able to find involved a lawsuit between RynoRyder Productions and their distributors whom they filed suit against for copyright infringement. The only thing worse than a horde of monsters in a legal team.
I’m drained from moving stuff into the new apartment over the last week so I may have missed a few things during my several drafts and passes of this review.