In loose terms, Evilness is the tale of a man trying to tell his stories through 12 songs. Loosely is the operative word, however, as Joshua Gil’s parallel disregard for narrative structure and any deep character portrayal will delight some viewers as much as it will alienate others. Similarly, the main character’s songs can only be loosely defined as such; he has no instruments nor music to accompany him.
The film opens with a fittingly menacing image of a fire raging through corn crops. The final remainders of the crops – presumably someone’s livelihood – lurch towards us, spitting and crackling. The two anonymous perpetrators run away from the flames, their reasons and identity unknown.
This first scene is perhaps unduly long but it lays out Gil’s preoccupation for the visceral, an integral trope throughout the rest of the film. Dialogue is relatively sparse and the two main characters, described in the credits simply as Hombre 1 and Hombre 2, are not huge conversationalists. Instead, the film’s sonic backdrop relies on earth sounds: footsteps, cowbells, strong winds, spitting fires and horse shoes.
The poetic stoicism of the men’s lives drives the film. Hombre 2 rises underneath his haphazardly hung picture of the Virgin Mary every day, puts on his worn boots and washes at the small sink placed in front of a cracked mirror. He tends to his sheep and his land and he returns to sleep. The stunning cinematography makes his daily routine seem beautiful to us, even in its tedium.
That’s not to say that there’s no deeper meaning behind the film. Evilness takes a darker twist towards the end as it eventually closes with Hombre 1 in the city trying to sell his script. Conspicuously rural and representative of the people of the past, he tries to pitch his idea to two bemused executives for ten million Pesos, before he is escorted out.
To enjoy Evilness, one has to leave their expectations for a neatly bundled story at the door. More of a subtle contemplation and a nod to a way of life we lazily term as simpler, the sound and cinematography unveil a deep beauty within the starkness.
Evilness does not yet have a UK release date.
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Watch the trailer for Evilness here: