Face of Evil shows that there’s malice lurking behind the eyes of people you see every day. It’s the level of discord and violence that shapes their future, and could possibly bring a negative effect to your life… if not death. Sometimes this evil is no fault of their own, but still – it remains. Based on the screenplay by Vito Dinatolo, Face of Evil follows Private Jay Williams as he returns home from the Middle East after a long tour. In celebration of his big homecoming, his friends throw a July 4th barbecue, which is tossed into chaos when a mysterious epidemic turns the mountainside and surrounding city into a disaster zone of creepy citizens. When Private Williams is joined by his ex-sergeant, he learns that his mission overseas and the panic gripping his circle of friends is all part of a larger conspiracy. A V-Movie currently on VOD and DVD courtesy of Gravitas Ventures, Face of Evil stars Scott Baxter, Chad Bishop, Jamie Bernadette, Janet Roth, James Hutchinson, Chris Thorpe and Bryan Howard.
This film somehow manages to be a zombie movie without following the traditional narrative. Actually, it has very little zombies in it at all, if you can even call them that. Face of Evil also starts as a singular, quarantined event; leaving the rest of the world in the dark about the terror that is unfolding around them. That is, perhaps, what makes the idea scary in the first place – wondering if what’s happening to you is the downfall of society and humanity as we know it. What started as a simple nighttime barbecue with friends turns into a night of terror when gunshots ring out in the distance. What are they protecting themselves from? What aren’t the characters seeing at that moment? It applies to the slight zombie aspect of the movie, but also to the theme of betrayal, cover-ups, misdirection, and corrupt science. I can’t spoil how this all plays out, but I think you’ll find the over-arching theme much more compelling than the threat of weird zombie people. Props to director Vito Dinatolo for doing something different here.
When it comes to examining Face of Evil as a production, I have to say it’s rich in value for an independent flick. A lot of different locations were used, and they were all lit to perfection. Any of the scenes involving military personnel surely added onto the budget – props, costumes, etc – as did the special effects for the guns and gore. And Vito Dinatolo handled it all like a champ, which is astounding considering this is his feature film directorial debut. Scott Baxter and Chad Bishop played off each other in a wonderful, ying-and-yang, frick-and-frack kind of way; and the addition of scream queen Jamie Bernadette (All Girls Weekend, 4/20 Massacre) is more than enough to reel in more horror fans. A film for cinema fans who enjoy healthy doses of action and thinking outside the box, Face of Evil is unexpectedly dark and mysterious. No one is really who they appear to be, and everyone is working under an ulterior motive. Some are more obvious than others. Unsettling in the sense of “hey this could happen in real life,” Face of Evil is a mental, physical and political singular disaster flick – and I quite enjoyed it. Final Score: 7 out of 10.