While perhaps unsung and, to an extent, overlooked on the global scale, Brazil has a rich history of delivering outstanding genre fare. From the cult classic Coffin Joe movies to recent offerings like The Devil Lives Here, it’s a corner of the globe worth scouring for fright flicks. Our Evil (Mal Nosso), on the other hand — the feature debut of Samuel Galli — is the type of bold, provocative, and impressive filmmaking that transcends regions, and by the time the horror community has been exposed to its sadistic shocks and moral conflicts, it’s going to leave a widespread lasting impression.
The film starts off as a hit man serial crime thriller with elements of neo noir, taking cues from films such as Blood Simple and extreme shockers like Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer, I Saw the Devil and Killers. When we meet our protagonist Arthur (Ademir Esteves), he’s scouring the most repulsive corners of the dark web in search for a hired gun to do his dirty work. He eventually contacts Charles (Ricardo Casella), who advertises his services through videos of gruesome, inhumane torture. It’s tough to watch, but it serves a purpose. Make no mistake about it: this movie is unpleasant, brutal, and cruel. But it does all serve a purpose.
Charles doesn’t just kill for money, however. He’s very much in the game for his own twisted thrills. Arthur, meanwhile, is a good man — we don’t know why he’s been pulled into this violent underbelly, but we can tell from the outset he has no other choice. When he meets Charles, he gives him a very specific set of instructions on who to kill and when to do it. We later find out that the target is his daughter, and he’s doing it for her own good. But why?
The second half of the film enters supernatural realms and forces the vicious Charles to confront his sins. When we learn Arthur’s reasoning for having his daughter killed, it’s heartbreaking and we can sympathise with this situation. That’s when the film really starts to tighten its grip on you, but perhaps its biggest strength lies in its ability to dissect Charles and make him somewhat sympathetic eventually. There’s no clear cut, black and white here; if you’re going to find a hero in this piece, expect a moral dilemma. That said, the performances are so strong that it’s difficult not to appreciate the characters, regardless of some of their wicked acts.
Our Evil is a shocking, compelling, treat that deserves the undivided attention of any film fan drawn to the darker side of entertainment. It’s an audacious effort for a first time director, and there’s no better way to have introduced himself. Bravo!
Words: Kieran Fisher