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December 8, 2015

Evidence

by Franz Patrick


Evidence (2013)
★ / ★★★★

An explosion at a truck yard, located seventy-two miles from Nevada, reveals a number of dead bodies. Detective Burquez (Radha Mitchell) is assigned to lead the investigation. Although Burquez feels Detective Reese (Stephen Moyer) is not ready to return from his leave, a part of her is convinced that the case is going to need his help. After all, the explosion corrupted most of the forensics. The only thing that they have to go on in order to catch whoever is responsible is a three-hour video taken from four different cameras.

“Evidence,” written by John Swetnam, has an interesting premise but it proves to be yet another toothless horror-thriller, more concerned about how to capitalize on its found-footage style rather than telling a smart, genuinely scary or suspenseful story. Even though much of the focus is on camera tricks and editing, these elements provide nothing new or game-changing. They distract from the film as opposed to engaging the audience.

For a story with supposedly two intelligent detectives, there is a lack of actual investigation. Instead, the majority of the running time is devoted to watching the videos which is a mistake because we already know that most or all of the people in it would end up dead. We are subjected to numerous screaming, yelling, and “Oh my god!” moments, but the attacks offer no excitement or creativity. As a result, a passive experience is created as we wait for the victims to get picked off one by one. There is no tension or intrigue if the outcome is already revealed.

The picture might have been improved if the screenplay had devoted a majority of its time providing the details of the investigation coupled with the personalities that drive it. It gives no good reason why Burquez and Reese are fit to try to solve the crime at hand. Mitchell and Moyer have shown in their previous work that they are performers who know how to deliver lines in an interesting way. They embody the looks and attitudes of contrasting detectives and so I was perplexed as to why the filmmakers chose not to play upon their casts’ strengths in order to make up for what was lacking in the script.

The lambs meant for the slaughter are neither charming nor entertaining. We have a stage actor, an aspiring documentary filmmaker, a musician, a runaway, a dancer, a bus driver, and someone holding a bag full of cash. These personalities do not clash—or work together—in such a way that their archetypes reflect how they attempt to survive the night where help might as well have been a thousand miles away.

Directed by Olatunde Osunsanmi, “Evidence” has the audacity to go for a misplaced twist ending that makes no sense whatsoever. The intent is supposed to surprise and make us want to look back on the footages we had seen. Instead, we wrinkle our brows out of frustration and at the idea of reliving the passivity we had just endured.

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