Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Review: Above Us Lives Evil

Text © Richard Gary / Indie Horror Films, 2015
Images from the Internet

Above Us Lives Evil [aka They Came From the Attic]
Written and directed by Jason Mills
Sector 5 Films / Chemical Burn Entertainment /
Reality Entertainment / Gravitas Ventures / Mills Pictures

World Wide Multi Media
75 minutes, 2009

Can you get spookier than Delta, British Columbia? Well, probably, but they make some interesting work with the place that is home to the Vancouver landfill. Obviously, a Canadian production, the second largest country in the world successfully makes this film feel claustrophobic by focusing in on a house, the lawn around it, and the mysterious woods just beyond.
In a preamble that seems kind of superfluous considering the rest of the story, which could have still been successful without it (though every piece of publicity mentions it), a young boy is run over, and the guilt hovers over his family, the Hoopers, who was supposed to be watching out for the boy. Those that remain are the boy’s tween twin brother, Ben (Leon Bourikos), his teenage older sister Jen (Nicola Elbro), and his parents Richard (Robert L. Duncan) and Susan (Marina Seretis).
Robert is a workaholic who ignores his family and drags them along according to his work needs (4 houses in 2 years). At one point early on and they travel from house 3 to house 4, Jen says, “It’s taking forever to get there,” and then we learn it’s merely an hour away. For Canada, that’s the same neighborhood, practically. Oh, sorry, I should say neighbourhood. They move to the new house which, well duh, has something(s) in the attic, indicated by the film’s original name, They Came from the Attic.
Despite a somewhat annoying first half in spite of a couple of good moments, it starts to pick up around halfway. Y’see, the Hooper parents have gone to a work function that will last all night, and Jen has invited her dick of a boyfriend to drive all the way over. Asshole that he is, he bets that he will finally bed her with a bunch of his mates who secretly follow to make sure. Why? Easy: body count.
If you turn off your brain, the second half is a lot of fun with creatures chasing and chomping on, well, nearly any- and everyone. Because they can’t take the light, all the interesting scenes occur at night, and being shot pre-HD, some of the scenes can get a bit murky at times.
An annoying aspect is that the first time you’re introduced to anyone, there is a jump scare introduction (people come out of left field, as it were). In the beginning, it happens three times in a row in relatively short progression, and by the third I was getting irritated. It happens a couple more times in the film, and I found myself saying, to the screen snarkily, “Enough!” I’m going to chalk it up to it being director Mills’ first feature.
There are also some smile-inducing moments as well, if you catch them, such as a creature getting his photo taken accidentally (on film!), and then we see the development envelope has the “Mills Pictures” logo. If that is the only reason to have mentioned film rather than digital, it was worth it.
Without even complaining about the obvious voice overdubs and one place where someone talks and no sound at all comes out (oops, too late!), what I found disturbing was the many holes in the story. For example, and this is the only one I’m going to choose, there is a mostly annoying (purposefully) family living close by, and even though no one has lived in the residence that is the locus of the story for years, the creatures go for animals rather than the people next door, who only come into danger when there is plenty of human food around. This Newfie family (judging by the patriarch’s accent) knows what is going on there, but still chooses to stay there: “Hey honey, there’s a bunch of cannibalistic creatures next door who need to feed at night, so let’s go roaming around one by one, okay?” No local teens have used the empty house to have beer parties, or gone there on dares (or hook-ups)? Canadians are nice (usually), but I’ve been in deserted houses in the middle of flippin’ nowhere, and the ever present cans of Labatt shows the place is known to local kids.
And even though Canada is never mentioned once in the film, it’s kind of easy to tell, as we hear people say things like “Check out the hoouse,” “There’s something in the house, mum,” and at least one says the infamous and nefarious, “eh?” (the Northern version of “yknowwhadimsayin?”).
As these kinds of films go, it was actually a bit of a pleasant ride once it finally decided to get past the exposition and build-up. Decent body count, no nudity, and some blood, but the creatures actually look pretty good, especially the close-up of the one outside the closet door (it’s in one of the trailers below). This is a fun film to watch in a group more than to analyze in detail, so grab some friends and a flat on a Sat, and feast.
Oh, one last P.S., this film only goes to show one thing I have felt all my life: never trust a house that has a staircase with no railing. No good can come of it.


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