Another Evil is a black comedy set amidst the world of ghost hunting and exorcisms. Dan (Steve Zissis), his wife Mary (Jennifer Irwin) and their son Jazz (Dax Flame) are having a lovely family evening of charades at their vacation home when they experience a series of odd events. The next day they realise that their little cabin might actually be haunted, and call in an expert.
Their first port of call is psychic Joey Lee (Dan Bakkedahl). He confirms the haunting, but advises that an exorcism isn’t needed as he believes the ghosts to be friendly. Dan, not happy with this result, calls in a second opinion in the shape of Os (Mark Proksch), a ghost-hunter with a reputation as an “industrial-grade exorcist”. Once Os has been hired it becomes clear that he’s more than a little odd and the ghosts might not be the most dangerous thing in Dan’s house.
A title like Another Evil conjures up all sorts of horror scenarios, but unless you’re thinking well outside the box you’d never get to the actual narrative of this film. The film does feature ghosts, but it’s a story much more interested in the dynamic of the two leads Dan and Os.
The majority of the run-time is focused solely on the duo, the story a great two-hander which would also translate well to the stage. Dan, despite being an artist, is fairly straight-laced and struggles to understand Os and his eccentric peculiarities. Os is harder to explain, he believes in his ghost hunting mission 100%, but is lonely and in need of a friend. He sees Dan as an opportunity for comfort and socialisation and goes to extreme lengths to keep the relationship going.
The two central performances by Zissis and Proksch are brilliant. Both bring just the right amount of pathos and humour to their roles. Zissis plays the uptight artist who is very much afraid of ghosts in a very realistic manner. Dan is essentially an extension of the audience and thus reacts to events the same way that the viewer does. Proksch is also commendable in his turn as Os, a very complicated character. Os is one of those characters that is emotionally all over the place. One minute he’s crazy happy, the next he’s in a depression spiral. Just like Dan, audience members are left wondering what odd thing he’ll be doing next.
There are plenty of laughs to be had in Another Evil but the film has a definite serious streak running through it. Behind his facade Os is dealing with a lot of darkness and anxiety. Dan sees some of this and tries to help his new found friend, but ultimately isn’t sure how to handle the issues, leading to unspeakable acts.
This is the first feature for director Carson D. Mell. Mell has most recently served as a writer and producer on HBO hit Silicon Valley. His past work is clearly visible within Another Evil tonally and character-wise; the result is a comedic jaunt through ghosts, mid-life crisis and the plight of modern male relationships.
Another Evil forms part of this year’s Frightfest programme.