History of Evil

History of Evil
History of Evil
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For sure, it is common to find movies that are not good: such films remain in the audiences’ minds for just a day and get until forgotten forever. However bad movies with potential go to waste; those are hard ones. It is disappointing to watch a movie fall apart completely when all the ingredients of an interesting film were there. Sadly this is what happens with pseudo-horror film called History of Evil – it should have been about something much better than that hence its title itself overstates things; like the rest of the movie, the title bites off more than it can chew. It’s a political thriller mixed with haunted house horror elements, like if The Shining and Children of Men had a baby, though that’s overselling this film by miles.

The History of Evil takes place in America after another civil war has apparently ended society as we know it and led to a fascist dictatorship imposed by local militias. Having spent several years as a political prisoner, Alegre is reunited with her husband Ron and their daughter after escaping. They hide out in an old plantation home with the help of one member of resistance known as Trudy waiting for extraction from this house by another team headed towards “base camp”. Unfortunately, what Ron does not know yet is that his hide-out has an ill-fated history which begins to reveal itself in his mind Jack Torrance style.If it seems pretty neat, the end result is anything but.

Though Rhonda Johnson Dent stands out as Trudy hear performance is worthy noting but lacks complexity or subtlety in her script among others. For instance as far as political allegories are concerned History of Evil does not try too hard at all.Its agenda includes organized militia groups named ‘The J-6 Authority’ where some listeners may easily relate them to 06th Jan incident while others will be surprised at what they hear on air; nonsensical steroid commercials take center stage among them with lines like “Power up and don’t be a cuck”. The opening text scrawl tells it all right away:

This, as well as radio announcements and unnatural dialogue, shows that this is a telling rather than showing movie. The film keeps on giving exposition without ever developing its own world, such that it just has no time to inhabit itself. It mostly abandons any of its world-building after 30 minutes and then fixates on Ron’s mental breakdown for an hour, using it as a way to bludgeon the audience over the head with the basic message — racism and misogyny are the roots of all evil. In fact, the film might even go further — masculinity is the root of all evil. It’s a dull, shallow sentiment in the end.

Ultimately History of Evil becomes mainly about Ron’s struggle with his own masculinity in relation to what he does in life. His hallucinations inside the house are mostly benign, but one takes on an old white-robed member of Ku Klux Klan serving him pie and bourbon while initiating him into manhood cultism. Before long Ron begins questioning why he would risk everything for this political activist wife or even take orders from anyone at all.

It is true that Paul Wesley is a talented actor and he makes the best out of this but still the process of watching Ron turn into Klansman who does not like his wife for an hour becomes monotonous and unproductive. Ignore that it makes no sense at all (or maybe he had been a politically active person fighting fascists for all his life and even married to one of the most powerful politicians?).

However, the greatest mistake is its inability to make you feel anything. We barely see his wife or their daughter (ironic, in light of its claim as feminist), or anything about their relationship prior to him getting back with her. The story looks great though we are not interested in these people while neither does History of Evil care about them. It only cares about what it intends to do.

This film is so polarized that there’s absolutely no exaggeration saying that every white man and every man is wicked whereas others are heavenly righteous. That’s how shallow it views politics too. Moreover, we cannot get any insight into what they are really against or which principles the fascists support. There’s a rather pompous speech at the end of it that epitomizes this kind of attempt at profundity ending up as something very vague and insubstantial:

Well, there isn’t any fear in this film by any means! In fact, the poster bears a more terrifying resemblance to American Horror Story than anything else seen in the movie itself. Unfortunately, potential again went down the drain, just another example where ideology overpowers narrative and aesthetics in a movie. This could have been an amazing film except for one thing: i.e., History Of Evil doesn’t know its history nor has evil informed it enough yet to be captivating

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