Evil infiltrating a small town is a standard foundation in the majority of modern horror movies. An unholy/unearthly, monster/alien/demon/supernatural force, popping up in a quiet rural/suburban/off-the-beaten-path town to wreak havoc, and challenge the townspeople, throwing them for a loop against their daily routine lives, to ask them the question- what do you do now? With this foundation the audience will immediately start to think the same thing; you've welcomed us to the small town that everybody knows and loves. You've introduced us to the characters who live there. Now you've alerted us all to an evil force that is threatening their lives. What do you do now? It is up to the film makers to answer this question in an entertaining and original way. Live-Evil has some interesting answers to this question that ebb and flow in terms of entertainment, creativity, and originality.
It's Halloween night in a small American town, and Police Deputy Hancock (Charlene Amoia) begrudgingly answers one final call before the end of her shift. She arrives at a mansion where a massacre has taken place, taking a woman into custody who appears to be the culprit in the matter. Back at the Sheriff's Station we meet Deputy Hancock's superior Sheriff Pete (Vladimir Kulich), her fellow deputies, and two mysterious prisoners who we find out are wanted by the FBI. Once the new prisoner is in her cell, her powers become evident, leading to a serious problem for the town.
There's our evil-in-the-small-town foundation. What does writer/director Ari Kirschenbaum do now? First, he approaches the production with a small handful of artistic cinema ideas; When a person mentally experiences the evil, the screen turns over to a white background with vivid reds, and demonic/evil imagery akin to what the individual is seeing. Then the film is interspersed with numbered title cards which act as chapters (E.g. 4 Waking Misstra Know-It-All). Also, the film starts out in black and white before a plot point switches us over to color.
Second, he tries his hand at the uber tricky style of mixing horror and comedy, a feat that any movie goer will tell you either nails the target or completely bombs. The comedic elements of Live-Evil do not bomb in spectacular fashion, but they don't slay us with laughter either. It also doesn't help that the jokes and witty dialogue are too sparse throughout the approximately 90 minute running time, while the CGI monsters come off as unintentionally goofy. The proper balance of humor and horror is not fully achieved, leaving the viewer neither screaming in fright nor laughing in hysterics.
Possibly the most frustrating flaw of the film is that the two most interesting elements of the script are never fully explored or fleshed out. These elements are the two mysterious prisoners, Mr. Eleven (Ed Ricker) and Mr. Twelve (Carter) and the evil box that they have brought to the small town. Unfortunately Mr. Eleven and Mr. Twelve receive a small amount of screen time (where they steal the show) while the box merely acts as a plot device. Instead of using these characters to provide more material to build the mythos of the world we're experiencing, Kirschenbaum takes the rest of the film into standard US vs THEM territory ending with the big show down we all knew was coming and don't really care about.
Live-Evil falls short of hitting every mark that it's aiming for. The tension never leads to any scares. The scares never really get under your skin. The jokes are weak. There's a lack of focus on the most interesting characters. And the artistic visuals are interesting but they don't contribute enough to the production to really make them worthwhile. There's enough going on to keep you around until the end credits roll, but not enough to make you want to give it a second watch.