16th May2015

‘Evangeline’ VOD Review

by Phil Wheat

Stars: Kat de Lieva, Richard Harmon, Mayumi Yoshida, David Lewis, Kelvin Redvers, John Shaw, Nelson Leis, Dejan Loyola, Madison Smith, Anthony Shim, Natalie Grace, Ella Kosor | Written and Directed by Karen Lam

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Evangeline follows the titular character, Eva Pullman (Kat de Lieva), a young girl who escapes her sheltered upbringing to reinvent herself in college. As she begins to break out of her shell, she attracts the attention of a violent fraternity leader (Richard Harmon) and his two cohorts. Beaten and dumped in the woods to die, Evangeline finds herself trapped in a supernatural nightmare, and she must choose between vengeance and redemption.

Not willing to just stick to the supernatural revenge tale, Evangeline throws in a random sub-plot about a former soldier, struggling with PTSD, living rough in the woods – a soldier who initially rescues Eva after her beating but can’t save her from murder at the hands of a local serial killer/nercrophiliac – who may or may not be in love with Eva and may or may not be the eventual saviour of Eva’s very soul. Yes, even in a rape/revenge movie apparently love conquers all… Well that is unless the entire plot point is rendered moot by a flashback five minutes before the end of the film!

Sharing a lot in common with Savaged, Evangeline is yet another supernatural-themed revenge movie, only this time sans the excessive amounts of rape and torture. Yes, director Karen Lam forgoes the brutality more typically seen in such genre films  – in fact the fraternities beating of Eva and her subsequent death (and post-mortum rape) at the hands of a *second* psychopath is, at least for the horror genre, quiet tame by todays standards. So much so that this is a movie that, if not for the more horrific elements, could easily pass for a TV movie of the week. Not that the horror elements are that horrific anyway.

Much like the lead character in Savaged was possessed by a Native American spirit, Evangeline is too possessed, this time by an unexplained and unknown demon. Literally unexplained and unknown, apart from one throwaway line from one of Eva’s college friends, spoken in a medicated haze! Given the fact Eva is in the woods when she dies I assume we are meant to believe her possessor is some kind of ancient woodland sprite? Or tree spirit? Who knows? To be honest, by the end of the film you’ll hardly even care. You’ll be more concerned with trying to get back the 80 minutes of your life you wasted watching this mudane movie.

Puportedly a feminist take on the rape-revenge genre (Lam goes as far as calling it a feminist response horror”), Evangeline, again according to director Karen Lam, is also apparently a response to the lack of justice in a decades-long spate of serial killings in Vancouver and across British Colombia – mainly of prostitutes and those less fortunate in society. However you wouldn’t know that from the film, which clumsily mixes TV movie of the week style plotting with rape/revenge movie cliches and stereotypes to create a horror film that is just the opposite of what it should be, i.e. it’s not horrific or scary.

Evangeline is out now on VOD.

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