Yourgos Noussias' Evil is one hundred percent a crowd film. I will confess to having seen this on DVD prior to the festival and - watching it at home, alone, on a mid sized television with the sound down to not annoy the naighbours - finding it rather underwhelming. But put it on the big screen with the volume pumped and an appreciative crowd and, for all it's faults, it takes on an undeniable goofy, blood soaked charm.
Evil is the first ever zombie film to be produced in Greece and that lack of experience shows. The budget was obviously microscopic, the cast inexperienced, the script a little clumsy. What saves the film is that Noussias is obviously an adoring fan of the genre, his ability to crank up the energy on a whim, and his being smart enough to recognize the limitations of his situation and go for camp humor when legitimate horror is out of his reach.
The films begins in Athens. A road crew breaks into a previously unknown cave and, while exploring, are infected by a mysterious force. They seem unchanged at first, a bit moody perhaps, but still essentially themselves. It isn't until much later - with one at home, another in a nightclub, and the third in a crowded soccer stadium - that the unseen force makes it's presence felt, transforming the unwitting trio into ravenous, bloodthirsty zombies. The fast running kind. And thanks to two of the three being in highly populated areas when the transformation strikes it is mere moments before there are hundreds, if not thousands, of the creatures rampaging through the city, leaving only a small band of survivors to fight for their lives.
There is nothing in Evil that hasn't been done before, nothing that any zombie fan won't already be familiar with beyond some interesting split screen techniques that Noussias uses in key moments - particularly the chase sequences - to ramp up the tension. It's a great technique, and very well used. The dialog is often stilted, the characters entirely stock, but right around the time that bitchy accountant Dimitra breaks out her ridiculously poor kung fu skills against the zombie horde the film officially takes on 'so goofy its fun' status and by the end even Dimitra's griping has paid off with a fantastic gag. While the prosthetics are certainly not up to Romero standards they are inventive, nicely squishy, and very, very bloody.
Evil is, frankly, primitive. There is zero polish to it and it was obviously a labor of love. But love can take you a long way in the right hands and Noussias' grip is prettty solid. His digs at soccer culture would likely be more appreciated in Europe than here where soccer is a virtual non-entity as social phenomenon go, but the crowd came looking for a fun, bloody flick and that's what they got. It's not a classic by any means but it is far more enjoyable than I expected.