Friday Morning. I received an envelope postmarked with a familiar address. When I opened the package, I was not surprised to see a letter and a video, both stamped with the seal of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The video was labeled with information noting Exhibit Number 9 – “Evil Things.”
I was asked to assist the Missing Persons department of the agency with its investigation into the disappearance of five young men and women last seen in upstate New York. The individuals were identified and descriptions followed. Pouring a stiff cup of black coffee, I opened the seal and put the video into the recorder. Blowing steam off of my stained coffee mug, I pressed play and began my own investigation.
I read the case briefing. Five kids. Three girls. Two guys. The kind of thing you hear about in a weekend drunken car crash. This wasn’t a car crash. Despite a scare on the road, these kids had found their way to their getaway. Early run-ins during the trip indicated the presence of an unknown stalker in a maroon Ford van. The kids were clearly scared before they ever even found their destination. Within sight of their vacation house, the kids managed to get their vehicle stuck, but they were laughing and jovial.
They arrived safe…if there was such a thing as safe.
The five kids arrived at the house to find the lights out of commission and someone tailing them up the driveway. A quick discussion and order was restored. The outlook became much more optimistic. The next day, the kids found themselves at an impasse after Mark talked the others into a voyage into the woods. Tensions began to mount. Once the sun goes down, tension turned to panic.
Flashlights into darkness. Suburban kids stuck in the woods with no sense of direction. The fear of being lost crepts into them when they realized they might not be alone after all. When all seemed lost, the kids found a clue and a way back to their vacation paradise.
Until a knock sounded at the door. No stranger at the door. Just a package with a video tape.
Parallels in my mind, I stopped the tape and put my coffee on the desk. Reaching into my lower desk drawer, I drew out a bottle of bourbon, wiped the dust out of a tumbler on the shelf over my shoulder and poured two fingers into it. Things were getting interesting.
The footage made my skin crawl. No one could have filmed this from outside the mysterious van. Whoever he was, he was filming those filming themselves. If an Exhibit 10 existed, this was its director and the key to this investigation.
I watched the rest of the video with more focus than I’d had when I opened the package. My skepticism was gone. It was replaced with a need to know what the hell had happened to these kids and if there was any way I could help crack the case. In the interim, every ounce of me that had screamed fraternity prank evaporated. Watching the suffering these kids endured was enough to sober me up, regardless of how quickly I refilled the tumbler.
When I killed the video, I was left with that eerie feeling. A tune played in my gut not unlike the time I’d watched the footage of the three kids missing from Burketsville, MD, or the footage those partygoers managed to capture during the monster attack on Manhattan. This was different, though. The fact that the killer was just as willing to document the hell inflicted on the victims made Evil Things a disturbing view into fear, panic and absolute desperation.
Evil Things takes the best of the unknown and flips it on edge, adding in the impossible thought that the killer’s fascination with video capture is every bit as real as that of the victim. No longer is video a simple evidentiary review, but a vehicle for pure obsession. The fact that the killer remains unknown taps into the beautiful violence for the sake of violence made famous by films such as the original Black Christmas.
Evil Things doesn’t start with a bang. It’s a film wherein the fear is a slow burn, simmering to the top once viewers realize…or are forced to realize…that what they’re going to witness is not in a vacuum. Just as the victims wish the encapsulation of the house will keep them safe, viewers will seek refuge in Leo’s single point-of-view. Once that is ripped away, every boundary and frame of reference is shot to hell, and viewers are left just as vulnerable as Leo and his friends, alone in a darkened house without a soul to save them.