Text © Richard Gary / Indie Horror Films, 2020
Images from the Internet
The Evil Rises
Directed by Daniel Florenzano
Florenzano Films; Terror Films
85 minutes, 2018
It amazes me how many genre films are based on some really stupid people who make really, really stupid decisions. For example, at a beach party (yes, bikinis abound, natch), a couple discover a statue peaking out of the sand that has some strange powder inside it.
Of course, one of them, Willie (Julian De La Mora), knows the entire history of this statue from a lecture he attended months ago. Say what? Anyway, most of them take the powder from the statue, put it in their beer, and swig away. I can just hear in my head, “Amber says whaaaaat?” None of that makes any sense, but if it sets up the rest of the story (as this is only the first few minutes), so be it.
|Michael Glauser and Bailey La Flam|
The powder turns the beach blanket bingo into a splatterfest as our California campers turn into mindless zombies controlled by… well, gimme a minute to get there. They kill each other off until there are only three: Claudia (Bailey La Flam), her boyfriend Sebastian (Michael Glauser), and Willie (the “intellectual” third-wheel). The killing raises, out of the sand, the… American Indian? Aztec?... spirit, Callas (Erik Cram), who controls them. Of course, Callas speaks perfect English, as most aboriginals did 666 years ago (yeah, that’s the timeline given, even though it’s more than 100 years before Columbus set foot anywhere near the Americas, and nearly 200 years before the Spaniards landed in California), and is killed by colonists who are dressed like the Puritans, who never left the East Coast. Since Callas is played by a colonialist actor; would this be considered cultural appropriation? I’m not sure. What is surprising to me is that the film is loaded with Latino/Latina actors, and they didn’t find one for Callas? Anyway, this is still in the first ten minutes; the credits haven’t even finished yet.
Now the sole purpose of this trio is to find the blood of 50+ people to raise Callas (no, not Charlie, RIP) to this dimension to begin his malevolent reign (hence the evil rising). Junkies, party animals, and all others are welcome to be obliterated as either flesh eating zombies or victims thereof.
|La Flam and Alec Lobato|
Of course, if you have evil, you must have good. On the side of humanity is a police detective, David Jones (not of the Monkees nor David Bowie; played by Joe Paulson, who actually holds up best in the acting department), Chazz the pizza delivery guy (Alec Lobato), and the local scammer priest (e.g., uses the tithe money to go on vacations), Father O’Malley (Ed Hollingsworth), who’s brogue comes and goes at will. Yeah, he’s on the side of “good.” Social commentary, anyone?
There are lots of moments that could have been excised to keep the pace going, such as the conversation between Chazz and a 911 operator. Do they or we need to hear that he thinks “the girl is smokin’ hot”?; good way to get a hang-up from the EMTs.
There is a huge cast in this film, which for its budget, in and of itself is impressive. Even some porn performers make their faces known. My favorite character is a super scary looking macho guy whose girlfriend is on a lease, who ends up being a scared little boy. This character, though completely underdeveloped, still made me smile the most. Truth of the matter is, all the roles are pretty undefined as far as personalities go, never mind back history of any kind. But the meat and potaters [sic] of the film is not so much the details, but the extraneous stuff: substance abuse, violence and gore, and of course, the flashing of boobs, which bob up on occasion (nothing of the male action).
As for the violence and gore, well, that looks rather good and enjoyable, without overdoing it (though a literal pool of blood looks a bit like water with coloring). Stabbings, biting, machetes are all instruments, among others, used to dispatch victims. For me, a weak spot was the final party scene, where there was room to focus more on the action than the story, but they let the story get in the way. This is probably due to budget constraints.
Is it a great movie? No. Is it a good movie? Well, it’s decent and entertaining, but there are places it could have been cut, and others where it could have been plumped up, as I noted. Of the two villain leads, Claudia comes off the best and the nastiest, while Sebastian is kind of… there, and kind of superfluous. This is the writing though, not the fault of Glauser.
I didn’t feel like it was a waste of time to watch it, but I don’t really feel a need to see it again, though I’d like to see La Flam and Paulson in more films.
To finish off in the digression department, the pizza place in the film, City Pizza, is a real San Diego shop that “specializes in New York style thin crust pizza.” That also made me smile. And miss New York style thin crust pizza. The film crew did well to advertise the company within the film, and I hope they got some decent free pizza out of it.