Okay, stop me if you’ve heard this one before: A group of rowdy young people go on a camping trip for one of a variety of reasons (in this case, making a documentary). They drink, do a little pot, have some sex, but that’s all fun! What could possibly go wrong? Suddenly, there are noises in the woods! Some want to investigate, some want to go home. Noises continue, then escalate. Mistrust, fear and death tear apart this group of friends. WHAT’S IN THE WOODS? WHAT WILL HAPPEN TO THESE MILDLY LIKABLE TEENAGERS????
Chances are you’ve seen this premise about a thousand times. And you’re probably groaning right about now, thinking about how this shit is played out. And you wouldn’t necessarily be wrong. When JennyD and I chose the found footage flick Evidence, to be honest, we chose it because it was free. And I don’t think we would have grabbed it at all if we didn’t have a get-one-free deal going on. The cover and the description just didn’t make it seem interesting at all. But hey, free is free, so we took it home figuring if it sucked, we didn’t lose anything.
After about 10 minutes, we were pretty sure this movie was crap. We were bored, the characters were unlikable, the plot not moving. We talked about changing over to something that had a better chance of being more interesting. But we decided to give it 15 more minutes in case it magically turned around. And by the end of that 15 minutes, we were hooked. Lucky for us, our first impression was entirely incorrect. While not perfect, Evidence is a creepy, original take on the found footage genre, handling major plot twists without seeming false and making a variety of smart choices to overcome its lower budget.
Directed by Howie Askins and written by Ryan McCoy, Evidence takes us on a first-person journey with a cast of relative unknowns, much like modern verite films such as The Blair Witch Project and Pararnormal Activity. Our unknowns play characters that share their first names, (as in The Blair Witch Prject). As previously stated, this group of four doomed campers (Ryan McCoy, Brett Rosenberg, Abigail Richie and Ashley Bracken) are not a likable crew – they range from jerk to bigger jerk to other kind of jerk.
What really helps to make this film is that you really think you know where it’s going (into the crappy pit of tropes that are many of today’s found footage movies), but around the halfway mark it takes a sharp left turn that I’m sure divided audiences. Those of us here at FGSG found it an interesting choice, and a refreshing change from the norm. The film is not without its mistakes, but on the whole is thoroughly watchable and a strong attempt to try something new in a played out sub-genre.