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Evidence (Blu-ray)

Image Entertainment / 2013 / 94 mins / NR

THE FILM:

So you've watched the found footage of THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT, saw the mass destruction through the camcorders of the participants in CLOVERFIELD and have gone through hours upon hours of security footage chronicling PARANORMAL ACTIVITY. Where do you go from here? How about watching found footage with the police in an attempt to solve a series of murders? Director Olatunde Osunsanmi (who helmed the poorly received Milla Jovovich alien-abduction movie THE FOURTH KIND) once again tries to find a new and original way to use the far-overused found footage gimmick.

A brutal series of multiple homicides has occurred in an abandoned gas station 72 miles outside of Las Vegas. Lead Detective Burquez (Radha Mitchell) and forensic video specialist Detective Reese (Stephen Moyer) are tasked with going through the camcorders and cell phones found at the scene to try to piece together what happened and who is responsible.

We are quickly introduced to our bus load of potential victims going from Los Angeles to Las Vegas: aspiring filmmaker and constant videographer Rachel (Caitlin Stasey), her aspiring actress/best friend Leann (Torrey DeVitto), Leann's boyfriend whom she recently publicly humiliated but refusing his marriage proposal Tyler (Nolan Gerard Funk,) professional dancer who wants to go home to see her son Vicki (Svetlana Metkina), the raggedy-looking Katarina (Dale Dickey) who clutches a duffel bag full of cash and Steven (Albert Kuo), a 17 year old runaway. Bus driver Ben (Harry Lennix) takes a detour supposedly to pick up another passenger when the bus crashes and our group begins being hunted by a blowtorch wielding, welders mask wearing psychopath who tortures and torches his victims, all while being photographed on the victims' various cameras.

Writer John Swetnam (who expanded his 2011 short film, EVIDENCE) and director Osunsanmi should get praise for using the found footage premise in a clever and ultimately interesting way. It isn't just a gimmick to tell the story but a vital and core story point. Unlike the films I listed above, EVIDENCE could only be told via the found footage device. The bad part is that you don't know that until the very end of the movie and that first hour and a half looks and feels like every other found footage movie out there. What is here isn't terrible (I'm not saying it is particularly good either), but the gimmick has been over-used to death making any potentially new or good use of it feel tired and boring before it even begins.

THE DISC:

The bulk of EVIDENCE bops back and forth between a variety of aspect ratios from the stylistically damaged cell phone camera and camcorder footage to the slick 2.40 used in the linking police footage with Mitchell and Moyer. Of course the found footage breaks up constantly and looks bad; it is supposed to. So the only real test of the quality of this transfer is the linking detective footage which all looks excellent: sharp, clinical detail, inky blacks and very well saturated color.

Likewise, the DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 sound mix is a combination of front-heavy mono (the found footage) and immersive surround (everything else). However, you should be warned: Osunsanmi really likes to throw in jump scares by having the found footage break up with a really loud (I mean REALLY LOUD) blast of static. Set you equipment accordingly.

THE EXTRAS:

Not a single thing. Not even a trailer or raw video footage from the cell phones.

OUR SAY:

While the latest entry in the over-crowded "found footage" genre is indeed clever, EVIDENCE suffers from simply using the "found footage" device and saving its cleverness until the final few minutes. Recommended as a rental at best.

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