Baghead meets the Exorcist

Another Evil premiered at this year’s South by Southwest and comes from writer/director Carson Mell, known mostly for his written work on Silicon Valley and Southbound and Down.

In keeping with Mell’s obvious comedic chops, Another Evil is a horror-comedy about a man’s quest to rid his vacation home of a series of ghosts. It stars Steve Zissis as Dan, the every-man lead, just looking to exercise his right to exorcise and get back to enjoying his vacation house. He hires Os (Mark Proksch), an eccentric spirit exterminator and the two spend a weekend alone in the house, hoping to cleanse it once and for all.

The cinematography is great and often unconventional in its use of space. This goes a long way to aid the horror elements, selling them as being viable in this comedic landscape. It’s features solid performances, particularly Zissis, whom I’ve been loving in HBO’s Togetherness, and Proksch, who is hysterically odd. After the initial set-up, Zissis and Proksch are a two man team, and the film relies on their expert chemistry to carry the comedy. At times it almost feels improvised, a testament to the actors and the freedom they were given to sink into the roles. This natural quality also diverts attention away from the horror, allowing it to creep in unexpected and maximize the scares.

The ghosts are a definite highlight, and their contrasting visual designs and personalities give them purpose beyond being just props. Because they’re used sparingly it makes them more frightening.

I think my main issue is that the film isn’t sure how to handle the tonal spikes. Early on it’s not entirely clear what genre we’re dealing with. There are horror elements introduced almost immediately which then disappear for a bit in favor of a quieter comedy. This duality is great but it’s never fully realized, and as the film progresses it ends up being a sort of lopsided mash-up.

It’s a shame this had to happen in the latter half, which characterizes the lasting impression. Had the horror been built to compliment the mumblecore-esque comedy, then the film might have felt more uniform. But as it stands, Another Evil feels divided by its genre ambitions, never fully living up to either.

Check out a clip from the film, below: