Our Evil


Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode

Our Evil
"The characters almost seem aware that they're performing."

There's a distinct poetry to Samuel Galli 's debut film, a magical realist quality which might be ascribed to the nature of artistic circles in Brazil but which is nevertheless rare in the horror genre. It makes parts of this film feel more like a play, with sets designed like stages and the camera often held static at a distance. The characters almost seem aware that they're performing. In fact, both the men at centre of the story are lying or obfuscating most of the time, though for very different reasons. That plural possessive pronoun in the title invites us to question whether or not their different agendas make any moral difference in light of their actions; we might, indeed, apply it more widely and ask what the convergence of those actions says about the human species.

Charles (Ricardo Casella) is a serial killer. He makes his money as a hired assassin, advertising on the dark new with a brutal snuff video, and kills young women for pleasure. Arthur (Ademir Esteves) is an exorcist, a man religiously devoted to ridding the world of evil and saving the lives (and eternal souls) of the innocent. Yet Arthur is hiring Charles, passing him a set of instructions in a sealed envelope. The deed he wants Charles to perform for him will break his heart and, from a Catholic perspective, condemn his own soul, yet he believes it is the only righteous option available to him.

Our Evil is a story told in several layers. We see Arthur as a young man (played by the equally intense Fernando Cardoso), intervening in the case of a mother who is possessed by a demon. This creature, splendidly rendered by the special effects department, draws on familiar notions of how such horrors should be embodied, black and red, spidly and sticky, but has something distinctly unnerving about it nonetheless. In its wake comes a terrible prophecy which changes our hero. We see him on a circus stage. Is he imagining it, or is this some supernatural event? Perhaps it doesn't matter. Between the fragments of wisdom he is offered and the religious values he holds dear, he is committed. He believes that he is doing good. By contrast, there is a purity about Charles, who knows that he is doing evil - and whose moral framework (or lack thereof) is made starkly visible in a further torture scene.

There's some good work here. Among the cast members, Luara Pepita shines as teenager Michele, the only good thing in Arthur's life, full of sweetness and devotion yet living a restricted life and clearly longing for more agency. Galli makes interesting use of light to bring depth to his static frames. Yet the film speaks throughout of an emerging talent with a lot of big ideas who doesn't quite have the skill to pull them off. It's confident, which helps, but the magic never quite happens. events feel too disconnected, linked only by logic and not by mood.

Despite this, Our Evil is an interesting film and a bold attempt at doing something different. Galli will be one to watch.

Reviewed on: 02 Sep 2017
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A man with spiritualist powers is told by his mentor that a demonic entity is returning to destroy his daughter's soul and that he should take drastic measures to prevent this from happening.

Director: Samuel Galli

Writer: Samuel Galli

Starring: Ademir Esteves, Ricardo Casella, Sonia Morena, Anthony Mello, Luara Pepita

Year: 2017

Runtime: 92 minutes

Country: Brazil


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