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Blu-ray Review

DVD cover

The Evil Within


Starring: Frederick Koehler, Michael Berryman, Sean Patrick Flanery, Dina Meyer, Kim Darby and Brianna Brown
Distributor: Screenbound
RRP: £17.99


Certificate: 15
Release Date: 04 September 2017

Dennis Peterson is a mentally handicapped teenager. He remembers when the dreams began: a visit to the ghost train. He harassed his mother to go on the ride but then complained when nothing happened. That is when the demon appeared to him and said, "What makes you think the ride is over?" Dennis now lives with his older brother John, who is distracted much of the time by his attention-seeking girlfriend. John is determined to look after his brother (for good reason, it turns out), and so splits his responsibilities. When John buys an antique mirror for Dennis’s room the demon uses it to appear to the boy. It persuades him to do certain unsavoury acts to prove his intelligence; however, these quickly escalate out of control – to the point that Dennis doesn’t know who his friends are anymore and begins to turn on his family...

I must begin by congratulating Frederick Koehler on his portrayal of Dennis. It is simply phenomenal, and makes the other pretty solid performances look as if they are simply going through the motions. Just when you think it can’t possibly get any better, an additional version of Dennis is unveiled. This new one manipulates the original innocent party into his heinous crimes.

Although not quite to the high standards of Pan’s Labyrinth, this film does similarly immerse you in a number of sequences wherein you have no idea if this is really happening or simply in the key character’s head. Are we in the head of Dennis? I think so, but then something happens which makes you doubt your grasp of the concept. You see, weird things happen to other characters, too. John in particular has a number of rather surreal experiences: the run-in with the tall man (no, not the one from Phantasm), the familiar town where no one recognises him, and particularly the brilliantly conceived human puppet show put on by Dennis.

Horror fans will recognise Michael Berryman (The Hills Have Eyes, and many others) as the demon. I think, through fear of being unfairly harsh, the demon could have been half-hidden or just plain used a little less. Once you are used to his features the fear factor of his appearance is much reduced.

It’s difficult to know what to say about The Evil Within without giving the game away. It’s enough I think to simply say this film is extremely well-constructed. The pace and progression is spot-on and the visual set pieces masterful. Would it have been as good without Frederick Koehler as Dennis? Probably not; who’s to say? But the fact everyone concerned with this project seems to be at the top of their game means what we are left with is somewhat unique. And very special. This is merely a hint of future possibilities from director Andrew Getty, had he not died tragically.


Ty Power

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