DreadWorld Review: 'Live-Evil' (2016)

Do you want to know how to fuck up an independent horror film? You take a fairly simple concept and make it so convoluted that despite everything else a film has going for it, leaves the audience scratching their collective heads as the credits start to to roll. The other way to guarantee an independent horror film sucks is to make the film about volcano spirits inhabiting the dead and call it The Burning Dead. I know, it's been over a year and I'm still not over that steaming pile of horse shit. But that film is somewhat relevant to the subject of this review, writer/director Ari Kirshenbaums Live-Evil at least.

It's Halloween and everyone has just about had enough of dealing with the college based revelry, including the local sheriffs department. But when a mysterious late October "snow" starts to fall, the dead begin to rise from their graves and this sleepy little college town finds itself at the nexus of the battle between good and evil. Sadly, the film isn't that cut and dry. There are demon possessed cops, FBI agents and the "most wanted" fugitives they are tracking, mysterious artifacts, and of course, Tony Todd.

It's not the elements that muddle the water in Live-Evil though. It's the way the film is assembled. The first half of the film is in black and white for some reason. It switches to color without any sort of explanation, or if their is some sort of artistic reason for the films color palate to change it's lost in the myriad of other confusing decisions by Kirshenbaum. The film has several almost non-sequitur interruptions that take the form of both chapter titles and something a kin to the title sequence of NBC's "Hannibal" with heads floating and blood everywhere. It's weird because while the film is in black and white, these cutaways are in color, and all they do is remind us that the film we are watching (at least for the first half) is in black and white. It's a distraction that interrupts the momentum of the narrative much to the films detriment.

It's easy to see what Kirshenbaum was trying to do with the frequent breaks in the action, especially with the fairly amusing chapter titles. The beginning of Live-Evil is all over the place in terms of tone and the chapter titles serve to settle the film down and focus it a bit. But the floating demon heads? I have no friggin clue what the point of that was other then to get me to ask "What the fuck was the point of the floating demon heads."

I mentioned the tone of Live-Evil because it's central not only to the failings of the film, but also to the small amount of success the film manages to find in it's third act. It may take a while, but the film does find it's stride roughly an hour in. The jokes start to land better. The narrative starts to coalesce. And wouldn't you know it, Live-Evil becomes pretty watchable. It's not Citizen Kane...or even Citizen Toxie...and despite sharing the glowing eye zombie thing with The Burning Dead, it's better than most convoluted indie horror fare.

Live-Evil is an uneven, fairly amusing, ambitious film, that bites off more than it can chew. But pretty cool looking zombies, decent performances, and Tony Todd almost rescue it from some the odd editing choices. Live-Evil is certainly not going to make any top 10 lists, but it won't find itself residing in "4 white star" territory when it hits Netflix either.

** stars out of *****

That's it for me. As always, thanks for reading, and "enjoy every sandwich."

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