Evidence that Found Footage Can’t Cover a Shaky Story.
There were so many things that could have been good about this movie. Really, it had promise. So much promise. Maybe that’s why it hurts even that much more to see those promises go unfulfilled. What Evidence does have, though, is a fantastic trailer! Oh, does the trailer tease and promise. I went into this movie wanting to like it so much, that the more I tried to give it a break, the more disappointed I continually became with the end result.
First, in trying to do a little research for this story, I discovered (at least according to Deadline Hollywood) that first-time screenwriter John Swetnam sold the script to Bold Films for a six figure price tag! Congratulations, Mr. Swetnam because that is a monumental achievement for a first time screenwriter.
Unfortunately, though, it appears that Evidence may have blown it’s budget with a script buy and the setup of the film. As previously mentioned, this movie has a slick trailer, very enticing and very well-produced. And, initially, this carries over into the film.
The movie sets the stage for a solid mystery/horror/suspense flick — Police Detectives Reese (Stephen Moyer) and Burquez (Radha Mitchell) are charged with piecing together the mystery of a gas station massacre where a bus filled with people were forced to defend themselves from a mysterious murderer on a massive killing spree. Fortunately, for the detectives, the victims were far more interested in recording the horrific events than actually saving themselves or one another, using a variety of portable recording devices.
The movie goes back and forth between the “found footage” and the shock and awe of the detectives piecing the mystery together. The strength of Evidence is the premise. Its weakness is the delivery.
Director Olatunde Osunasanmi seems to direct this movie as more of an obligation and with little care to the story. Just the opposite of a similar effort by Osunasanmi, The Forth Kind, which presented a much weaker premise; however, the director and cast really seemed to believe in the story for The Forth Kind and the hard work to tell its story as strongly as possible truly comes across to the viewer. Not the case here.
There is a strong attempt at creating tension in Evidence and concern for the characters, but neither one is ever fully achieved. The viewer never cares enough about the story and there is never more than a very mild feeling of suspense, even during those moments that should be most suspenseful and riveting.
When found footage films work, it is because the viewer cares for the characters and the footage reveals the story bit by bit and allows us to fill in the blanks, much like the first Hangover movie, which may have well have been a found footage film the way the characters put the story together.
In Evidence, the found footage isn’t there to help put the pieces of a puzzle together, but rather to try and hide the pieces that are actually missing.
Review by Gordon Shelly, special to Influx Magazine