Another-Evil-SXSW-PosterOne of the many pleasures of covering the Fantasia International Film Festival every year is how many pleasant surprises you tend the find. Year after year, films are watched and discovered and are instant additions into your permanent memory in ways that special film tend to be. One of this year’s films that left me quite speechless and honored to have witnessed something truly original is Carson D. Mell’s supernatural horror/comedy ANOTHER EVIL.

Unlike anything you’ve ever experienced or will ever experience, Mell’s feature debut does an absolutely perfect job of giving its audience something rare and original, a story that tiptoes on the fence so precisely, ¬†making you laugh one minute and then leaves you shocked and horrified the next, unsure of what’s coming your way from scene to scene. During a weekend at their vacation home and while playing charades, Dan (Steve Zissis, HER, TV’s Togetherness) and his family experience a paranormal haunting, one that leaves them scared and unsure of where to go from there. After hiring a paranormal investigator who ends up being as chill as possible about the situation and urging the family to just not care about the ghost, Dan turns to a friend who recommends the more aggressive “demon killer” Os (Mark Proksch, Better Call Saul), an awkward man who seems to give Dan and his family the opposite advice, telling them that he needs a few days in the vacation home to get rid of the ghost(s). In a hurry to rid his family’s second home of any haunting aspects, Dan agrees and with his family stays behind in LA while he stays at the home with Os.

With an opening sequence that’s quite eerie and scary, ANOTHER EVIL plays a bait and switch on you as a viewer, heading towards a more dry comedic approach, getting you comfortable with Os and his weird yet believable methods and does a great job of building some sort of friendship between Dan and himself. That’s one of the film and director Mell’s successes with the film, it gives you something that builds tension, then allows you to feel comfortable for a bit, before bringing that tension and dread back for more and when it does end up happening, we, along with Dan begin to feel unsure of who is the real threat, the ghost or Os. With each passing day, the off-kilter, eccentric paranormal expert begins to exhibit sporadic moods and out of nowhere tells Dan one of the spookiest stories of how as a younger man, he tried to top a friend to impress a group of girls and ended up doing something quite revolting. It’s with that story, that we as viewers begin to feel that dread return and the film heads into straight up horror and tension, keeping us on the edge of our seats and expecting the worst to come. Will Os help Dan get rid of the spectral being or will he pose more of a threat himself?

The film relies not only on the two excellent performances by Zissis and Proksch, but on some damned good writing/directing. Mell keeps us guessing minute after minute, with the film continually being entertaining, hilarious, terrifying and surprising. I honestly don’t remember the last time I felt so taken back with a film in a mystery sense, ANOTHER EVIL is so very unique and interesting that as it plays out in front of you, you’re dying to see where it’s going but are at the same time, almost afraid of where you’re about to go with these characters. Proksch does such an excellent job of playing Os as borderline schizophrenic character who means well and believes 100% that what he’s doing is God’s will, even if in reality he’s losing his mind and putting Dan and his family in jeopardy.

Completely original and one hell of a debut, ANOTHER EVIL shows just how talented Mell is as a director and how promising the future is for a filmmaker who refuses to play by genre cliches and rules, and gives viewers a film that will not be topped in its imaginative ways anytime soon.

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