Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode

A group of young people stranded in a scrapyard in the middle of the desert, picked off one by one by a mystery killer. Two amnesiac survivors, only video footage left to tell the tale. You may be forgiven for thinking you've been here before. Evidence, however, is at least trying to do something different. Its footage isn't played out as a single shaky reel. Instead, we see assorted fragments as they're pieced together by detectives trying to solve the mystery. This allows for non-chronological storytelling and a bolder attempt at building narrative.

There are interesting ideas here, sadly let down by a weak central plot and formulaic realisation. Evidence is a first feature for writer John Swetnam, adapted from his short, and in making the transition he's used too much padding rather than properly rounding out the premise. Many slasher movie fans, of course, won't care - this is adequate party fodder - but it's just a little too light on gore to really satisfy them. A properly disturbing modus operandi for the killer doesn't deliver much on screen and doesn't scare as much as it should either.

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Part of the reason for this is stylistic. Director Olatunde Osunsanmi's crudely shot found footage scenes look more like the real thing than any similar work to date (and contrast with confidently handled scenes in the police station which show this isn't down to lack of talent). The cameras are perhaps a little steadier than one would expect - many viewers will find this a relief - but the things the camera observes seem natural, incidental and untutored. At first this works well in combination with the detective element. One finds oneself looking out for little clues in the background. As you'd expect with real footage, though, these are few and far between, and as a result the story begins to drag. Despite theories that what we're watching is a serial killer, there's never enough sense of urgency in the meta-narrative. The main part of the action being presented as a fait accompli, it doesn't seem to matter all that much who the killer is.

The other problem here is that convincingly ordinary people are, for the most part, pretty boring, and there's no-one here who really grabs our attention in a prospective final girl way - in fact, the least interesting characters last longest. There's more talent in the police sections but it's under-exploited, with Radha Mitchell delivering another world weary turn as she tries desperately to make us care and Stephen Moyer hampered by some of the film's clunkiest lines.

Ironically for a story about disparate pieces of footage, it's the editing that really lets Evidence down, robbing it of tension. There's the skeleton of something interesting here but it's never successfully fleshed out.

Reviewed on: 17 Jul 2013
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A group of detectives try to piece together the story behind a mass killing from pieces of recovered video footage.
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Director: Olatunde Osunsanmi

Writer: John Swetnam

Starring: Stephen Moyer, Radha Mitchell, Torrey DeVitto, Nolan Gerard Funk, Dale Dickey, Harry Lennix, Caitlin Stasey, Svetlana Metkina

Year: 2013

Runtime: 89 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: US


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