Stars: Scott Baxter, Chad Bishop, Jamie Bernadette, Janet Roth, James Hutchinson, Christopher Thorpe, Charmane Star, Bryan Howard, David Alan Graf | Written and Directed by Vito Dinatolo
I often like watching Indie movies because they are the breeding grounds for more imaginative work. Even though they often have a lower budget they often have more freedom to make a statement or touch on subjects that Hollywood haven’t caught up on. Face of Evil takes a look at the state of the world and more importantly the effects of PTSD on soldiers, and with the current climate (and Trump’s idiotic statements) this is very topical.
When Jay (Scott Baxter) returns from service he finds it hard to settle in, especially with the current state of his home. During a party for his friends turn on him, apparently being changed into zombies by an exotic flu. Fighting for his life, he soon escapes but as more and more people appear to be infected, is the real problem closer to home?
Face of Evil uses its budget well, though there are the hints in production are there to see. While some films do weaken because of this, Face of Evil thankfully manages to escape some of the more concerning traps. What is interesting though is how the film seems to be a mixture of genres, sometimes getting lost in the message it is trying to convey.
What I mean by this is that while the roots of the film are definitely in horror there is also a subtler psychological thriller at work. We know that Jay is obviously suffering from PTSD and this makes the audience question whether this is all in his mind, or are the things that he sees are actually happening. Whatever the case, the way he reacts to his situation is made harder by what has happened to him during the war. Thankfully director and writer Vito Dinatolo handles the subject well and never gives us a definitive answer as to the full truth until the end.
One thing I did notice about the film is that it does struggle to keep the story going for the full 90 minutes’ runtime, the middle of the film does seem to lag. This may be the lack of zombies, and my lust for more gore though which caused this feeling. Thankfully though things do pick up, especially as we reach the conclusion of the film and everything is revealed.
Independent movies may have lower budgets but it is often in the cinematography that they have stand out moments. There are a few of these in Face of Evil which add to the successful feel that the audience is drawn into the story. Scott Baxter’s Jay is a character that is easy to empathise with, and when Sarge (Chad Bishop) is included he gives the film a kick in pace that is needed.
The subject of PTSD is one that has to be handled with care as it is a hot topic at the moment. With so many soldiers being affected by this, and idiotic statements being made by people like Donald Trump, we need more understanding of the subject. While Face of Evil takes the subject into a horror setting, it does manage to take a more sympathetic edge to the actual sufferer.
Adding a focus on the economic crash and how it has affected society, there is an underlying commentary in the film which is evident. While making subjects like this a theme in a film can sometimes come across a little preachy, Face of Evil uses it to add to the desolate feeling of the world, and the almost apocalyptic feel of the times we live in.
Face of Evil will be well worth hunting out when released, especially for fans of independent movies. It is low budget but uses what money it has well. Touching on subjects that are current, it handles them well, and still manages to put them in a horror setting that can be fun as well as still being empathetic. So if you want your horror to be topical, then Face of Evil is for you.