Wednesday, March 22, 2006
Codename V reviews a very good film that you've never heard of
In which V has seen a rather obscure film and has found it to be quality.

I rented this film Evilenko because a number of things caught my eye. Firstly, it's (sort of) a true crime kind of thing, and I like those. Secondly, it stars Malcom McDowell, and while most people probably wouldn't consider that a real plus, I think he usually gives interesting performances. Thirdly, Angelo Badalamenti did the score.

I say it's only sort of a true crime story because it's mostly fiction, only loosely based on the crimes of Andrei Chikatilo. I won't get into his story, that's what the Wikipedia link is for. I set my expectations for this pretty low, because direct-to-video films you've never heard of are nearly always crap. Evilenko was quite a surprise.

The cinematography in this film was excellent. Several of the scenes were very dreamlike and definitely had a David Lynch sort of quality about them. Particularly the opening and closing scenes I found to be both morbidly beautiful and haunting. From the first ten seconds of the film, it's easy to identify Evilenko as a depraved monster. Nearly all of the actual violence happens off-screen, but I found Malcom McDowell's performance to be extremely dark and predatory. He very effectively made me feel fear for his victims, and I got this sick, knotted-up feeling a few times throughout the film.

Plotwise, this has a lot to offer. Evilenko is pretty screwed up about the decline of Communism (did I mention this was set in mid-80s Russia? Read your Wikipedia article). He has problems at work. He has problems with sex. Killing little kids (and sometimes young women) becomes his outlet. Meanwhile the police are looking for him along with a reluctant psychoanalyst. There are more than a few scenes that are uncomfortable to watch, most notably Evilenko's very unconventional interrogation by an obsessed police officer. I watch a lot (I mean, a lot, people) of these kinds of films, and this is one of the few that left me feeling kind of dirty and ill afterwards. And that's exactly the effect I think certain films should have on you. Given the subject matter and the grim realism in the film, I defy any sane person to watch this and not feel a bit defiled by it.

I strongly recommend this. I'm sure it must have been low-budget, but the production values were stellar and the overall look of the film was not at all cheap. Oh, one other thing for the Badalamenti fans... there's a theme song to this film with vocals by the chick from The Cranberries (Dolores something? O'Ridoran?) and it's very reminiscent of Julee Cruise's songs from Twin Peaks. Very reminsiscent indeed.

I've rambled enough, just add this to your list of films to see. Trust me.