Saturday 2 March 2024

Shudder Saturday: History Of Evil (2024)

Here is the single sentence plot summary of History Of Evil on IMDb: "A family on the run from a corrupt state takes refuge in a safe house with an evil past." I don't often make use of summaries available elsewhere on the internet, almost always preferring to convey my own interpretation of the main plot points, but I have shared a standard logline on this occasion because, well, I don't think I would have thought of it in that way. Because History Of Evil isn't very good, and it seems to forget what it is trying to do for the majority of the runtime.

The very opening of the film explains how it is set in a near future. Things haven't gone well for humanity. Some people are trying to make things right though, resisting against the horrors and oppression. They are known as The Resistance (a word highlighted in red for those who might otherwise struggle to realise what word is the best one to describe the characters we are about to meet). We then join Ron Dyer (Paul Wesley) as he attempts to get his "public enemy" wife, Alegre (Jackie Cruz), and their daughter, Daria (Murphee Bloom), to a safe house where they can await extraction to somewhere even better. They are being helped by Trudy (Rhonda Johnson Dents), eventually reaching their destination and then growing more tense and strange as the time keeps passing.

I could describe some more plot elements, but a) they are spoilers, b) they may make you think that this is a better movie than it actually is, and c) I cannot be bothered. This film, although competently made on a technical level, was so frustrating and unfocused that it proved a real chore to get through. I am just happy that the runtime clocked in at just over an hour and a half before the end credits started rolling.

Written and directed by Bo Mirhosseni, making his feature debut (which should come as no surprise to anyone who watches this), there are crumbs of good ideas scattered throughout this, but nothing is ever given enough time and attention. The world described to viewers isn't really shown, obviously due to a limited budget, the characters don't feel worth spending too much time with, especially when we don't get enough background information that might help viewers sympathise, empathise, or consider what they would do in the same scenario, and any apparent "plot twists" fall completely flat, being far too obvious and familiar to genre fans. To be fair, Mirhosseni may not have intended anything to feel like a twist or reveal, but it certainly feels that way as things play out.

Wesley is decent enough in what amounts to the lead role, but he shouldn't have necessarily been the lead. That should have gone to Cruz, or perhaps Cruz and Bloom together, mother and daughter struggling to maintain a healthy relationship and attempted normal life in the face of mounting danger. Cruz, Bloom, and Dents are all good, with all of the main flaws in the film stemming from the script and direction, as evidenced by the way the solid performance from Thomas Francis Murphy, playing someone else inhabiting the house, is consistently undermined.

I know why Mirhosseni made this film, and there's always potential in the idea of people repeating dark moments from history without learning anything from them, but I hope he takes some more time for his next project, perhaps getting someone else to look over his work and check that he follows enough of the breadcrumb trails he scatters around, and ensure that he picks the right lead character. This is bad, but there's promise within it.


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1 comment:

  1. That definitely wouldn't make me sign up for Shudder.