A detective hunts down a killer using video footage shot by the victims of a massacre at an abandoned gas station.
Directed by Olatunde Osunsanmi
5 out of 10
Completely aware of my current disdain for “Found Footage” movies these days, I went into “Evidence” with barely any expectations. I decided that the 2 stars of the film, Stephen Moyer (Pine Barrens) and Radha Mitchell (Rogue), was a good enough reason to check out this FF thriller from “The Fourth Kind” director Olatunde Osunsanmi. Unfortunately, they weren’t quite enough to save this stumbling and dis-interesting serial killer flick. The film is just a mess and when it should gain momentum and suspense it trips and makes the mistake of reverting to cliche ridden hokum. The way the film unfolds and the pacing and story mar the film on more than one level. I found it very hard to care for or even become involved with what was going on. Unlike Osunsanmi’s last effort, “The Fourth Kind” (Which wasn’t without it’s found footage flaws, either), “Evidence” fails to add or bring anything new to the table in order for us to take notice.
The movie right out of the gate seems gimmicky and hollow as we are witnesses to a calamity which takes place in the desert. An explosion occurs which involves a young band of people who are re-directed to an abandoned gas station after their bus driver runs over spikes laid out in the dirt hidden from sight. The bus is full of some various characters from a young female video documentarian to a supposed woman on the run with a satchel full of money. The first sequence shows (using the overused 360 degree bullet time gimmick), from multiple angles, what seems to have befallen the unfortunate people at the hands of a crazed serial killer who dons a leather apron, wears a soldering helmet and fancies a blowtorch as his instrument of destruction.
What is done quite right though is the use of the different narratives to showcase the hunt for the antagonist using footage shot from cameras and cell phones. Stephen Moyer plays a detective, who seems to have been on some type of leave, named Reese. Reese asks his superior, Detective Burquez (Mitchell) if he could help investigate the tragedy at the gas station. Burquez reluctantly agrees and thus begins the procedural part of the film which, to me, seemed to gel and makes sense. It even was a bit interesting. But it is not meant to stay that way. It seems despite all the law enforcement jargon, technical babble and forensic double talk, the characters seems a bit remote, cold and one dimensional. As the congregate at Headquarters, they try to piece together what has lead up to the massacre of the small group of people who all eventually at one point get on the doomed passenger bus and end up in the clutches of a madman. The killer who uses a blowtorch to do his victims in seems to inhabit the gas station. In true found footage fashion (and it does not work at all here) we get the over zealous camera recorder, the angry and moody guy, (who here was turned down after a marriage proposal), a young vulnerable teen and 2 mysterious strangers.
One being a shady woman (played by True Blood’s Dale Dickey) with a past who is prone to paranoia and violence all the while carrying a lot of money. We get the obligatory found footage set ups with this boring motley crew but when things go wrong and the bus rolls over and they are forced to take shelter at the gas station, we get even more of the hokum I mentioned earlier. Characters do stupid things, say even stupider things and after watching where this was all going I found myself hoping that the action would change back to the Agents trying to unravel the crime. I found that the transitions between the found footage material and the straight narrative equally distracting and disappointing. It was an issue I also had with “The Fourth Kind.”
“Evidence” tries to maintain some semblance of dignity with the 2 lead actors when they are engaged with solving the crime. Mitchell, though, just seems bored and comes across with no dynamic at all. Which really sucks because I like Mitchell but they should have just gone with an unknown actress for this role. Moyer, on the other hand is nice to watch as always but his trouble was the mistake of portraying a woefully under-developed law enforcement agent. We get a hint of his background story early in the film but it is never revealed nor examined. Which is frustrating because with a little bit of meat added to Reese’s character we would have felt more deeply about him and his tough time at solving the crime.
Moyer is incredibly wasted here as he sports a five o’clock shadow and looks haggard, throughout. The scenes with Mitchell, Moyer and the rest of the investigation team are the better parts of “Evidence” to sit through. On the other hand, all of the found footage sequences remain laughable and trite. I mean, geez, didn’t Osunsanmi watch any of the 9 gazillion other FF movies to try and not repeat falling into the cliche mire? Guess not. There are never any scenes of true fear in “Evidence.” The killer and POV scenes are not terribly scary or disturbing (Unless you think people being set on fire is very scary). The film has a neat trick under it’s hat but it is too much of a mess to appreciate. The director fails in crafting an interesting story with engaging characters.
The woman (and some of the fellas, too) just run around, screaming, falling, making dumb decisions and it just annoyed the hell out of me. Don’t get me started on the absolutely ridiculous ending where we find out who is behind it all and it terribly minimizes all the efforts of Reese and the other Officers. I wanted to throw something at the screen at this point. “Evidence” tries to be an interesting “movie within a movie” flick but it doesn’t acquire that distinction. The rating I give “Evidence” is only because of the presence of Mitchell and Moyer who are really given nothing to do but yell and stare at screens through the whole film. Oh, and there is even the obligatory scene where a character tells the camera person: “Why are you always recording?” or “Shit, turn that camera off!” Yep. That happens. And in the case of Osunsanmi’s film, they should have listened and turned the camera off for good.