Live Evil Synopsis: Supernatural forces are locked into a college town police force’s basement jail. The sheriff and his deputies are subjected to psychic attacks, preying on the fears of the loyal officers and only those with the strongest wills can survive.
Starring: Charlene Amoia, Vladimir Kulich, Tony Todd
Written and Directed By: Ari Kirschenbaum
Release Date: 10/17/2015 | Runtime: 1 hr. 35 min. | Coolthulhu’s Earned: 4 out of 5 | Source: Received from October Coast for review and interview purposes
Live Evil Review
I honestly didn’t know what to expect from Live Evil. Because it was listed as a horror/comedy I went in thinking it was going to be something along the lines of Scary Movie or Deathgasm. It’s not. In fact, I’d be hard pressed to really call it a comedy. There were some funny moments, well, a lot of funny moments, but horror has always been a genre that can fuse horror and comedy but still be a straight-up horror movie. I think that’s more where Live Evil falls.
The cast was great together. I particularly loved Hancock (Charlene Amoia) and Sheriff Pete (Vladimir Kulich). They were awesome together and had a wonderful chemistry. Not a romantic chemistry but more like very good friends/mentor relationship. In fact, I was very pleased at the lack of romance between them. It was very refreshing. Most Wanted #11 and Most Wanted #12 were great as well. I honestly don’t remember if the movie says they were brothers or not but for some reason that’s the impression that I got. Either way, it worked well.
Live Evil is split into chapters, which I’ll admit threw me at first. But it’s clear from the start that it sets out to have its own, unique style. I particularly liked the black and white aesthetic with the splashes of red. For those who aren’t keen on back and white the movie does go to full color later in the movie. The effects work well for the most part. I loved the look of the Not-Zombies (I still have to wonder if they weren’t inspired by Iron Maiden’s ‘Eddie‘ just a smidgen). I would love to say more about their eyes but since it ties into the plot I’ll let you see for yourselves.The only effects that seemed a bit off to me were the gunfire. It looked kind of weird.
I would have loved to give it a five but there were some things I was a little less than enthused about. The plot was a little looser in spots than it should have been. While some of the unexplained things fit in with the mystery of it, others could have/should have been more explained. One of the bigger disappointments was the end. It seemed very abrupt and I’m not really a fan of movies (or books, or video games) that just end. To me it seems to be a cop-out to where they don’t have to think of an ending. It doesn’t have to be a big ball of Happy Ever After but I want some kind of resolution. Unfortunately I can’t go into many of the others as they are mostly plot related. The one thing I can wonder about is the bell. It seems important but I’m not sure why or what it does or what it did. There was a semi-twist to it that I thought was set up well. There are hints to it (I started wondering mid-way through) but it’s not so telegraphed that it’s disappointing.
All in all while I wasn’t “I have got to get this!” I was not disappointed, either. And I can’t stress enough how much of a role the cast played in that. The actors give their characters their all and it shows. With a weaker cast and less chemistry between Hancock and Sheriff Pete it could have easily flopped. If you go in expecting slapstick you will most likely be disappointed. If, however, you appreciate a more quiet humour then you’ll be pleased with Live Evil. Probably Evil.
Live Evil is available on VOD at various locations, including Amazon.
Interview with Writer/Director Ari Kirschenbaum
Sci-Fi and Scary: First, let’s talk a bit about you. What movies helped mold your sense of style and story-telling?
Ari Kirschenbaum: As a kid I loved anything by Jim Henson, Ray Harryhausen, Planet of the Apes, Star Wars, etc and that grew into the Horror and Sci-Fi in 80’s. And when I saw Carpenter’s The Thing, that was it for me. I was totally blown away.
Sci-Fi and Scary: It’s said that great writers are avid readers. Do you think the same goes for those involved with movies (albeit with film instead of books?)
Ari Kirschenbaum: Sure, I would say that is true too, but film is different because it involves so many artistic mediums; writing, picture making, sound, music. So there are many more sources of influence for film and ways film can influence. Movies can inspire musicians, musicians can inspire filmmakers. Painters can be influenced by film and vice versa. I think it all depends on how the artist is able to process influences. How well they understand what they are looking at. Good filmmakers can absorb all they watch, the good and the bad and filter through their own sensibility, and you get something new. Others just steal and copy without their own sensibility. Style is usually the first and easiest thing to copy, so you see a lot of it. I’d like to imagine there are filmmakers who have such a strong pure, vision or style that they don’t need to watch other movies once they have developed their style and maybe just rely on the other arts, like music, fine art, and literature for influence. I’d like to think that is how really unique voices are developed, but that might be bullshit. I do love when you read about some auteur’s movie tastes, especially when it leans towards the trashy side of cinema.
Sci-Fi and Scary: It seems that you’ve taken on a few different tasks making movies such as director, writer, and editor. Which of these are your favorite to do?
Ari Kirschenbaum: I actually don’t like any of those roles completely. I like the beginning of writing, the blank canvas and then about half way through I get stuck or I realize I’m only half way through and hate it. I like the ending polish, where you go back and tweak. Directing sucks a lot of the time. Lots of stress and distraction, when you need critical focus and you have to move quick and everyone is looking to you for every decision. I probably like editing the best, that’s where it all comes together and it’s easier to focus and sculpt your footage.
Sci-Fi and Scary: Your other movies seem a bit different than Live Evil. What made you want to try a horror/comedy?
Ari Kirschenbaum: Horror comedy is my comfort food.
Sci-Fi and Scary: How long did it take you to make Live Evil? From initial script-writing to post-production wrap-up.
Ari Kirschenbaum: The script was written many years before production – a script in a drawer. There was a year long period where we were securing a much bigger budget and names. But all the financing fell through and then we had to regroup. Then it was a major decision – Can we make it for absolute bare bones? We were so committed to the project at that point, that is felt like if we didn’t make it, it would be a tragedy. Pre-production was about a month. Production was twenty one days, minus about five or six days because of recasting the lead and other problems. 15 days for a film like this is really not enough, so editing took forever. And I was also doing all 340+ efx shots, so that added to it. On top of that I had a family with three kids, so I think it was like two years from pre-production to festival ready.
Sci-Fi and Scary: The visual effects are amazing. Did you have a clear idea of what you wanted visually when you started or did it grow as you worked with the effects team?
Ari Kirschenbaum: The dead were created by Kyle Thomspon and I tweaked them, adding earthy elements and then in editing I added the eyes. The only planned efx was the ash, because that is clearly in script. The rest was to address deficiencies because of missing tissue and elements, because of the rushed production.
Sci-Fi and Scary: Were there any effects that were particularly hard to accomplish? I’m really curious about the flowing blood.
Ari Kirschenbaum: The eyes and ash were the hardest to accomplish since that involved tracking sometimes fifteen different dead and individually animating their eyes. And I don’t know if you noticed, but all the eyes pulse to the same beat, in every scene. Also, once it started raining ash, then that meant every shot of every scene now needed ash if it was an exterior or a window was seen in an interior. The blood was ink drops in a water tank. Very old technique.
Sci-Fi and Scary: It was an interesting creative choice to shoot partly in black and white. It seems like very few movies are made anymore using monochrome. The last I can think of being The Eyes of My Mother. Given that you served as writer and director, did you know that black and white was something you wanted to do early on?
Ari Kirschenbaum: No, black and white is a hard sell, so we had color for safety. I realized during editing that it HAD to be in black and white, because it added a whole new dimension and vibe. It was like the magic that happens when you add music. Everything made sense after that decision.
Sci-Fi and Scary: I personally loved the black and white e!ect but some people may have issues with it. Were you afraid of losing audience interest at any point?
Ari Kirschenbaum: Oh yes, it took some convincing. Black and white immediately limits your appeal, which is one of the reasons why the whole thing is not in black and white. But I think it looks better. I think most images look better in black and white.
Sci-Fi and Scary: Your “Not-Zombies” had a very distinctive look. Were you inspired by anything specific?
Ari Kirschenbaum: Well it’s a lot of little influences, like Creepshow, Hammer Horror, but their function in the story was absolutely inspired by Bedknobs and Broomsticks. Their eyes were also very 70’s Disney live action inspired. I loved all those painted animated efx from the Disney films like Something Wicked This Way Comes or Bedknobs and Broomsticks.
Sci-Fi and Scary: The cast seemed to work very well together. I noticed that J. Richey Nash has been in Fabled, Batshit Crazy, and now Live Evil. How did that come about?
Ari Kirschenbaum: Batshit Crazy is only the moronic distributor trying to sell Fabled as a different movie. It didn’t work. J Richey Nash was in Fabled, we became friends, and he is a very versatile actor, but he’s also got this Chevy Chase vibe that I love and I just want to see him in everything. If I do any more films, I will need Mr Nash somewhere in it.
Thanks again to Ari Kirschenbaum for doing a (fantastic!) interview with us, and as usual, our thanks to October Coast for hooking us up with a great movie and connection opportunities!
GracieKat was the first co-host of Sci-Fi & Scary, Lilyn’s partner-in-crime, and sub-head of the Kali Krew. She reviews horror books, movies, and games for the site. She also does a weekly Focus on the Frightful feature, and is the site list-maker. She is also in control of the Sci-Fi & Scary podcast which will relaunch soon.
An interesting and easy-to-read review. Sadly the product is outside of my so-called comfort zone. Good work nonetheless! Bye.
Thank you very much! Have a look at some of our other movie reviews, there might be something more to your taste! 🙂
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