The Evil Within

The Evil Within ★★★★

Destined for further greatness, Andrew Getty's instant cult classic The Evil Within is one of a kind and vastly superior to the generic tripe it's utterly ordinary moniker would have you imagine. It details the dwindling fortunes of Dennis, a mentally handicapped individual whose vivid nightmares become indistinguishable from reality as demons from a mirror dimension make increasingly violent demands of him. It can be a tough watch depending on how much one emotionally invests in Frederick Koehler's heavily mannered lead performance, which is destined to rub some people the wrong way. Given it's genre, I don't think this portrayal of mental illness is out of bounds. The entire cast is pretty effective overall, which is sort of remarkable considering the stylized nature of the dialogue and it's occasional tendency to drift into the elaborate and overripe territory of unintentional camp. The whole film is something of a rorschach test and destined to provoke a wide variety of reactions ranging from those who will see it as utterly laughable to those who will admire it as a work of dementedly sincere outsider art. The hallucinogenic strangeness of The Evil Within, the late director's sole picture, is unlikely to leave anyone indifferent. Featuring skin zippers, giant spiders, stop motion, mirror mazes and an ashen Michael Berryman as the movie's most powerful visual effect this motley assortment of images ranges from distracting CGI work to some genuinely astonishing in camera trickery. Largely self financed, this is a particularly potent reminder of how often the entertainment we consume is safe and overly sanitized. It's the real deal and can serve as an effective if weirdly schizophrenic rebuke to the idea of compromise. Brought to life over a period of many years, the story behind this dark labor of love is pretty fascinating and easy enough to find online.

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