|Notice that Wilson's face has been photoshopped. He has no cheeks!|
Directed by Chris Fisher
Runtime 90min - Rated R
3 Stars (out of 4)
"Meeting Evil" is available on most V.O.D. platforms. Links below review.
I'm not sure if it was intentional, but the plot of "Meeting Evil" reminded me of "It's A Wonderful Life". This is something I'll mention again in the final paragraph so that it appears I have made some kind of clever connection between the beginning and end of this review. It's an advanced technique.
I hadn't really heard anything about this film so I was lacking expectations. I just saw who was starring in the film and thought, "Yeah, I'll watch that." I'm pretty sure that will be the way most viewers happen upon the movie given its quiet release. I saw there wasn't a single critic's review listed on its IMDB listing. That issue will be resolved soon.
Other than the cast, the only thing I could make judgments on was the movie's cover image. It was an image that lead me to believe the film was going to have a strong sense of mystery. Not because it's a clever and mysterious design, but because it very closely resembled the movie poster for "Se7en".
It turns out that these images are the only incidents of resemblance between the two films. I'm not saying that "Meeting Evil" doesn't have any secrets, but everything you need to know can be figured out in the first 20 minutes.
I was initially pretty disappointed with how logically the film progressed. John (Wilson) comes home to a surprise birthday party thrown by his wife and kids. He is a down-on-his-luck real estate agent who has lost yet another sale. His lost sale causes him to lash out at his family, which puts a quick end to the party and convinces his loved ones to leave him at home alone for a while. He uses that alone time to clear his head. In the movies clearing one's head is defined by early afternoon drinking.
John's drinking and self-loathing session is interrupted by a knock on the door. Richie (Jackson) is the knocker. He's stalled in front of John's house and asks for a push. While John is pushing Richie floods the gas before dropping the clutch, causing the exhaust to burn John's leg. Richie apologizes and insists that John goes with him to the hospital. So John hops in the car leaving his wallet, cellphone and keys behind. Don't blame him folks, he doesn't know he's in a movie.
Shockingly, Richie abandons the hospital idea in favor of taking his new friend/hostage on a joyride. Except without the joy. After a while, my disappointment started to fade. The movie wasn't trying to be mysterious or subtle. It was on a mission to create 90 minutes of havoc, and it succeeded. The body count rises and things get increasingly tense between Richie and John. By the climax of the film I was really enjoying myself.
Some of the publicity literature describes Richie as "evil incarnate". It seems pretty clear to me that he is a representation of Satan. He knows details about John and his wife that simply cannot be googled. Richie is the type of character that Samuel L. Jackson was born to play. He's constantly yelling and being obscene, yet he manages to talk himself into and out of any situation he wishes. He also has a knack for intense monologues that supplement his violence. The best example would be the "wrath of God" scene from "Pulp Fiction".
Luke Wilson does an adequate job in the film as well. His character seems less difficult than Jackson's, but still has moments of depth. He does occasionally make you wonder if John will fall into temptation and join in the evil doings of Richie. John's wife Joanie is portrayed by Leslie Bibb whose main job is to be attractive. A job at which she excels.
So here is a film about a man in dire financial straits who is approached by a seemingly supernatural being who shows him what his life might be like if he makes different decisions. At the end of this journey he returns to his wife and kids after seeing life from a darker perspective. Sounds pretty similar to "It's A Wonderful Life" to me. I really wonder if it was written from that perspective or if it was just a happy accident. I also wonder if they toyed with the idea of having a demon get its horns every time a bell rings. I'm not saying that "Meeting Evil" is on the same level as the aforementioned Christmas classic, but it does seem to be the flip side of the same coin. I may be in the minority, but I'm recommending this film. It's fun, harmless, and inexpensive. Another great addition to the video-on-demand platform.
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