August 16, 2010

Evil - In the Time of Heroes (Review) -- Toronto After Dark 2010

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Evil - In the 
Time of Heroes  (2009)

(aka. To kako - Stin epohi ton iroon)

Director: Yorgos Noussias

3.5 / 5 zedheads

Although I have not seen Noussias's first Greek zombie film Evil, I had the pleasure of attending the screening of its sequel at the 2010 Toronto After Dark film festival. Evil -- In the Time of Heroes is a high-energy and frenetic zombie gorefest that verges on the ludicrously improbable. It's not always successful, but it's one hell of a ride if you can keep up with this nonlinear storytelling and surreal flights of fancy. It's Dawn of the Dead meets Pulp Fiction with a coating of Shaolin Soccer.

In ancient Greece, an evil force emerges that turns the populace into zombies. After being defeated by some warriors who are helped by an ageless immortal (Billy Zane), the evil resurfaces in modern Greece. Billy Zane again appears to guide some unlikely modern heroes to defeat the evil.

A bored horde turns to gore
Director Noussias is like a madman in the sandbox of film. Reminding me of Tarantino or Rodriguez, Noussias's direction is full of stylish and inventive shots that are both severely random yet fully executed. Evil -- In the Time of Heroes defies all expectations and never lets the audiences get comfortable or complacent. Every turn is an unpredictable experience. Whenever you assume the film is going to be a violent gore fest reveling in guts and splatter, it hits you with some slapstick comedy. When you think its going to be a flighty comedy, it hits you with drama. When you think it is going to be a character drama, it becomes completely fantastical as characters leap around like anime ninjas or or get blasted into space by magic lasers. I have seen a lot of zombie films, and I can confidently say that Evil -- In the Time of Heroes is unlike any zombie film I have ever seen. It is a truly singular experience.

For committed zombie fans, prepare to see some of the largest zombie hordes in recent film history. There are numerous sequences in which characters are pursued by an impressive throng of hungry zombie extras. Practical gore effects are mixed with CGI, and zombification occurs almost immediately, leading to a rapid spread of the undead -- an undead population dispatched with creative and hilarious kills.

I can't give you a hand, but let me help you get ahead.
Evil -- In the Time of Heroes is an unhinged film experience to be sure, but it does not always succeed. Billy Zane's role is essentially an extended cameo, but he appears inexplicably throughout the story (sometimes as a floating head) as if to remind the audience that, yes, there is a North American actor in it. It is also a jarring experience if you have not seen the first film. The bizarre narrative is, for the most part, self contained, but I get the sense that Evil -- In the Time of Heroes picks up where the first film left off, yet it starts at a break-neck speed that gives the audience no time to adjust to the madness or characters. At times, it can feel very confusing, especially in reference to a character whose death is less than permanent.

Zaaaaaaane! Zaaaaaaaaaaaaane!
Evil -- In the Time of Heroes is a film that needs to be experienced. I'm struggling to describe it after only one viewing, but if you are tired of the same old attempts at zombie comedies or the dreary gorefests with no imagination, you have to see Evil -- In the Time of Heroes. It may not be a great film, but it's an ambitious experiment in surreal, comedic zombie killing action with a twist of magic realism.