The Field Guide to Evil
Runtime: 1h 57m
Directors: Ashim Ahluwalia, Can Evrenol, Severin Fiala, Veronika Franz, Katrin Gebbe, Calvin Reeder, Agnieszka Smoczynska, Peter Strickland, Yannis Veslemes
Writers: Robert Bolesto, Elif Domanic, Can Evrenol, Severin Fiala, Veronika Franz, Katrin Gebbe, Calvin Reeder, Peter Strickland, Yannis Veslemes, Silvia Wolkan
Stars: Marlene Hauser, Luzia Oppermann, Karin Pauer
A feature-length anthology film. They are known as myths, lore, and folktales. Created to give logic to mankind’s darkest fears, these stories laid the foundation for what we now know as the horror genre.
Initial: That is a really clumsily written summary… This seems ambitious, but I’m definitely up for more global horror. I wonder if they’ll do some kind of wrap-around.
Production Notes: Produced by Legion M, which is a “fan run” production company that often crowdsources funding for films. A Field Guide to Evil was green-lit after an equity crowdfunding campaign.
What Did I Think: (possible spoilers ahead) Yes, quite ambitious. No, no wrap-around narrative. Instead, the stories are only connected by the opening of a book and the flipping of its pages. Btw, the opening/ending titles are some of the best I’ve ever seen. The book is in the same style.
The stories are weighted toward Europe with stories from Austria, Poland, Greece, Germany, and Hungary. The other three stories were from the US, Turkey, and India. Most of the stories were light on dialog; I assume to appeal more broadly to the US audience which is unwilling to read too many subtitles. There was also often a dearth of narrative. Obviously, when you’re fitting eight stories into a two hour movie, some exposition gets dropped. Horror is a genre that can bear a lot of ambiguity and I only really wished for more story in one case: “A Nocturnal Breath” (dir. by Katrin Gebbe from Germany) felt like it could use the tiniest bit more explanation. (Though also, I wonder if my German grandmother had been familiar with this folklore and it was part of her hatred of rats and mice.)
“Haunted by Al Karisi, the Childbirth Djinn” (dir. by Can Evrenol, Turkey) was my second djinn in a week and both involved children and parenthood.
The first two segments “Haunted by Al Karisi” and “The Sinful Women of Höllfall” (dir. by Veronika Franz and Severin Fiala, Austria) have only female casts.
The US segment “Beware the Melonheads” (dir. by Calvin Lee Reeder) included the only actor I recognized: Michael J. Anderson from Twin Peaks and Carnival. (Of course, I’m quite face blind, so, take that how you will…)
My favorite in terms of style was “Cobbler’s Lot” (dir. by Peter Strickland, Hungary). Like Errementari, it is very Grimm’s Tales. It was shot as a silent film with dialog placards. The cinematographer is Márk Györi and I might have to find some of his other movies.