In first-time writer/director Dominic Perez's "Evil Things," five college students (whose actors are largely as green as he) embark on a snowy road trip to the in-the-woods country home of one of their aunts for a weekend birthday bash, and never, ever return.
Them being among the Wired Generation, they naturally tape the entire damn thing, so we can see what happened to them. For a while, that's not a lot, giving us time to get to know them. While they're naive as so many collegians are wont, the characters are not donkey-braying annoying as is usually the case with these features.
Their first brush with trouble comes while driving to their destination, in a "Duel"-style incident of road rage where their opponent apparently follows them to a diner where they stop to eat. Of course, that person eventually shows up at the house after they do; otherwise, there'd be no movie.
Going in with no expectations, I was pleasantly surprised at how effective it is. That's not to say it's really scary so much as it is compelling. Events unfold at a realistic pace, the kids' terror seems utterly genuine, and it doesn't devolve into torture porn or anything; in fact, it hews to the theory your mind will make up images more frightening than Perez could conjure for the camera.
The ending is near-perfect, but then Perez allows the tapes to keep unspooling for chances at more chills. It diminishes the effect only slightly. —Rod Lott