If there is one thing that one absolutely does not want to do in life or more appropriately, should not do, it is to open a door buried underneath one’s basement floor because there is a very good chance that it leads to Hell and letting Satan out to play is not a good thing. So after purchasing a house that has more than a few mysterious stories about it, Richard Crenna does exactly that and thus begins a world of trouble for him and his guests who start dying off one after the other.
Gus Trikonis who writes and directs with a little help from Galen Thompson takes this little horror film, appropriately called The Evil, and amplifies the tension and the thrills once the above-mentioned event happens. Before that, the picture is slightly dull and there is more than a few times where you think you are watching a made-for television movie as the acting is a little dull and there is little going on. Soon enough though, once Crenna’s character C.J. Arnold opens that door which is barred with a cross, things soon pick up and it becomes hard to tear yourself away at that point. It is not as if the film is a masterpiece, far from it, but it is suspenseful enough that as people start dying in the most ridiculous ways, the acting making it absurd more than the method, you find yourself wanting to see just where it goes and if anyone will eventually make their way through that door in the floor.
As it is, the moment that Arnold does go through that door, the movie just loses all of its momentum because Victor Buono as the Devil is utterly ridiculous, especially the way he was portrayed. On the positive side, it was a very novel idea to feature him all in white and in a white room, playing up the fallen angel angle. There is nothing to say that Lucifer cannot continue to dress and portray himself as he once was and that is how Crenna’s character sees him, though old and looking a little worse for wear. In all reality, Satan as portrayed in this film is the only reason to tune in, not because of any stellar performance but simply for curiosity’s sake.
Though the direction and the cinematography were fairly solid, much of the acting left a little to be desired with Crenna and the female lead played by Joanna Pettet, and Crenna’s wife in the film, better than the rest. The movie produced more thrills than it did horror, as the pace during the latter two-thirds moved the film along quickly. It is a bit of a shame as it had real potential to do something more frightening pertaining to that mysterious door. What is a little surprising is that come the end of the film, it is left wide open for a sequel and it even has the potential for a prequel. It is just too bad that the movie was not as good as it could have been, leaving any plans for any further exploration of this little universe, left unexplored. At the end of the day, The Evil is all right. The movie is early morning or late night fare – something to watch to either wake you up or put you to sleep and not much else.
3 out of 5