Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Siege of Evil (2005)

Pack: Tomb of Terrors
Disc: 12

Subgenre(s): Ghosts, Demons

Year: 2005

Rated: Unrated
Length: 84 minutes

Director: Jeff Carney
Writer: Jeff Carney
Starring: Desiree Muse, Scott Naumann, Amelia Foster

Synopsis: Sarah Logan decides to dabble in EVP (Electronic Voice Phenomena) using a tape recorder to record the voices of the dead from haunted locations. After visiting an old satanic church, she returns home to find threatening voices on the recorder.


Review: To say that Siege of Evil is one of the better demon/ghost stories in the "Tomb of Terrors" pack would be an understatement. Given the budget, it's certainly the best movie overall, yet it's not without several technical problems which make it look worse than it really is.

Siege of Evil has been transferred quite poorly with a faux letterboxing effect created by black bars at the top and bottom which irritatingly don't reach all the way across the screen. This gives away the original 4:3 ratio (or fullscreen aspect) especially as you can still see 2% of what the letterboxing tries to hide. I really don't know why it wasn't left as fullscreen because the picture is also pushed slightly to the right and doesn't stretch to widescreen (16:9) anyway.

The sound is okay overall though so be grateful for small mercies even if the dialogue is nothing to write home about. There aren't any witty, clever or memorable lines, but over two-thirds of them are delivered competently by the cast. In this respect, Desiree Muse, who plays Susan Logan, is a knockout with lots of facial expressions which constantly challenge whether or not she's channelling Margot Kidder.

Everyone does a fairly decent job with only a couple of non-actors who don't really fit in. I won't name and shame them as they are glaringly obvious. It's a real shame when that happens because there's a pretty strong story here which struggles and mostly succeeds to rise above the low-budget inadequacies. If you've ever seen the 1991 TV movie called The Haunted, there are definitely homages to it throughout. Whether they are intentional or not is another matter.

Unfortunately, the plot is also derivative of just about every Amitville movie and the clones with all the usual clichés and tropes. Like all of the modern demon/ghost movies, there has to be impersonations, dopplegangers, and the obligatory Catholic priest thrown in just for good measure. The latter is made much better use of in the usual formulas, but he's still part of a formula.

There isn't a lot of eyecandy around unless you like older women. The "mystery woman" (Barbara Engstrom) who predictably turns out to be a demon within a few seconds of her appearance is quite beautiful in that respect. While Desiree Muse constantly switches from being attractive to ordinary before ending up looking rather scary (or too sexy!) at the end, her onscreen sister Kathy (Amelia Foster) has the saucier moments. The unnamed jogger (Jenaya Carmen) at the start of the movie is the only one who shows her boobies though. In fairness, she didn't even need to as her jogging without a bra indicates that it must have been cold that day.

The gore in Siege of Evil is negligible, but with practical effects kept to a minimum anyway, it's not as if the movie suffers as a result. The one moment where a very fake prop is used doesn't work so well. It's not "laugh out loud" funny or anything, but it's misplaced. There's also huge snake in this which might have been better left to the imagination even though it's clearly a real one.

The cheap CGI used is scarce but it adds another weakness which could be excised from the movie with no ill-effect. Again, it's not as if Siege of Evil needs or uses a lot of effects anyway. Less is more in most cases, and Siege of Evil is certainly frugal.

Overall, Siege of Evil is a very nicely done and darker than usual horror story which all the nitpicking in the world won't ruin. It's just not going to win any prizes for originality.

Most Memorable Moment(s): The jogger bouncing through the woods.

Originality: White Noise (2005) made use of EVP, but this owes a lot to the Amityville movies too.

Best Line(s): "One minute he was alive, the next he was wearing his head on backwards."
Worst Line(s): "This place is great. Definitely ghost material."

Best Effect(s): Kathy's severed head.
Worst Effect(s): The CGI eyeball on the statue.

Goriness (out of 10): 2
Sexiness (out of 10): 4
Profanities (out of 10): 4

Hottest Actor/Actress: Amelia Foster as Kathy Altman.

Picture Quality: Average (but poorly letterboxed within 4:3 ratio)
Audio Quality: Average

Rating (out of 10): 5


IMDb or Wiki: None

Final Thoughts: If you want a low-budget version of Amityville, this is for you.

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