Evangeline (Opening Night Film)
A mishmash of halfbaked genre elements cribbed from other far better films and filmmakers and an almost inscrutable story, Karen Lam’s Evangeline is an unfortunate mess that never comes together and sets some genuinely good performances hopelessly adrift.
Kat de Lieva stars as the titular protagonist, a shy young student just entering university who gets coaxed into going to a frat party where she falls for a sociopathic charmer (Richard Harmon). She’s brought to a cabin in the woods where she’s drugged, beaten, and left for dead by some of the dude’s bros. Caught somewhere in purgatory (I think), Evangeline befriends a band of homeless people in the woods before heading back to the city to enact her bloody vengeance.
Simultaneously wanting to be Red Riding Hood, Red Dragon, any number of David Lynch films, Pan’s Labyrinth, a Nine Inch Nails video, and especially The Crow in the second half, Lam never comes close to ever picking a tone and sticking to it. Even worse, if you were to quiz me on a single thing that Evangeline is other than a revenge film, I wouldn’t be able to tell you. It’s flat out impossible to tell what in the film is actually real and what’s metaphorical/metaphysical/metatextual, and not really in all that interesting of a way. At the halfway point one wishes the film would just give into being the direct to DVD rip-off of The Crow that it so desperately wants to be (with Lieva’s make up and costuming coming so close to James O’Barr’s creation that it’s dangerously close to plagiarism). That’s exciting. Subplots about Evangeline’s roommate, the random homeless people who try to help her instead of taking a beaten girl lost in the woods to a hospital, and ANOTHER superfluous and useless serial killer in the same story, are just over stuffing an already hopelessly off course story.
Still, despite it all, de Lieva asserts herself nicely as both a frightened wallflower and vengeance seeking badass, and there are few people better at playing a menacing acting boy next door type than Harmon, but they deserve better than this. (Andrew Parker)
Friday, November 29th, 7:00pm, Carlton Cinemas