SXSW REVIEW: Another Evil

There are a lot of things that can help support the narrative weight of a film, a good ensemble, several compelling subplots, heck an explosion or two has known to help move a film along. What happens, though, when you strip all of that away? What happens when you setup two characters in basically one location and lean the entire film on their interactions during a joint journey towards a goal? Well, then you have a film like Another Evil, the latest from Carson D. Mell.

Mell is mostly known for his writing work on shows such as “Eastbound and Down” and “Silicon Valley”. While neither of those series could probably be labeled a pure “dark comedy”, they each have moments of real darkness and tragedy. This knack for that darkly comedic through-line is on display in Another Evil as well.  Mell and the film are never afraid to toe the line from hilarious to disturbing, and really that’s what makes this story such a success.

The film deals with an artist, Dan, who finds that his cabin is haunted by two pesky spirits. While a warm and fuzzy psychic tells him that these spirits have no ill-will and he should feel fortunate to have the amenity of a cabin with ghosts, our protagonist doesn’t share that thankful sentiment. This is where a less warm and fuzzy character, Os, enters. Os assures Dan that these spirits are “a**holes” and should be treated as such.

That is when the film shifts into a story of two men in a cabin. At first, it is fresh and fun. They bond over stories, over the goal of capturing the spirits, and over canned wine. It seems a friendship is blooming.

Another Evil SXSW

This is where the darkness comes in, I will leave the rest of the story in the shadow of vagueness so the audience can experience it on their own. Suffice to say, though, that this film and these characters go to ever escalating levels of disturbing. The skill of Mell and the film, however, lies in the fact that through this journey into darkness the film remains firmly  hilarious.

The accomplishment of this lies not only in the writing, but in the performances of our two main players, Steve Zissis and Mark Proksch. Zissis, who is also currently starring in HBO’s “Togetherness” plays the part of bewildered straight-man to a mathematical level of genius. His timing, his nonverbal responses are so on point here that one has to wonder if all of this was a legitimate surprise to him. Proksch, who recently had a notable run on “Better Call Saul”, is equally brilliant but on the opposite side of the spectrum. His frenetic delivery and unpredictable actions makes the film dangerously hilarious.

The title, Another Evil, is kind of an indicator of what this film has in mind. With the MacGuffin of ghosts in place, the film explores a different kind of evil; the real kind within all of us. While that may sound dark and depressing, this film finds all of the humor in it. That humor manages to capture the hope within the darkness, as if Mell is shrugging with a smile and saying; “yeah, we’re all kind of weird, but we’ll be cool.”

 

 

AE • SXSW Poster FINAL Web