This year’s Blood in the Snow Canadian Film Festival opened with Karen Lam’s demonic revenge story Evangeline. While an interesting premise that’s high on style, it winds up losing its way. The muddled plot loses as much focus as the camera does in an attempt to lend depth to a simple yet effective premise. What we’re left with is mediocre acting, and what essentially looks like a Tool video.
Evangeline (Kat de Lieva) is a naïve freshman with a painful past. Attempting to fit in, she goes to a frat party, where she meets the somehow charming Michael (Richard Harmon). A wealthy student with a bad reputation, she willingly follows him to a ramshackle cabin in the woods where he proceeds to drug her. Dragging her deeper into the forest, he and his band of bros beat her to within an inch of her life, and leave her for dead. She winds up in some kind of purgatory that looks like the love child between Tool’s “Schism” and “Sober” videos. A demon seems to conditionally possess her while she recovers with a band of misfits in the woods, eventually returning to the city to seek her revenge.
Evangeline is a great, simple concept. Young religious student goes to university, gets lured into the charming bad boy’s web who tries to kill her. She gets possessed by a demon that saves her life on the condition that she seeks vengeance. It all works. Until you start throwing in unnecessary plot points that simply muddle things up. The subplot of her roommate trying to search for her, for instance, draws the film into melodramatic territory. The underexplored back story of her sick younger sister – or so we’re made to believe it was her sibling – winds up serving as oddly placed religious fodder. The presence of an unused serial killer confuses the plot, while her band of merry men are just awkward filler. As you can see, there’s a lot of confusion going on, and it seldom if ever gets reigned in.
In the end we’re unfortunately left with a series of overwrought performances in a scattered story that should have been an effortless success. Simplicity in film is a virtue. That virtue was overlooked here.