When I was growing up, my Mom would always take me to the local video store and rent a bunch of horror flicks over the weekend. It became our weekly tradition. More often than not, a lot of these films were slasher flicks. From "Friday the 13th" to "Silent Night, Deadly Night" I grew up on a diet of boobs and bloodshed. It wasn’t until I got older and my tastes in film grew a little more sophisticated (though not too sophisticated; I genuinely consider "Manos: The Hands of Fate" to be a good movie) that I looked back on a lot of these hack-and-slash pictures with a sort of ho-hum attitude. Granted, there are a few diamonds in the rough like the aforementioned, "Friday the 13th," "Sleepaway Camp," "Pieces" and others, but by and large, these films are formulaic to the point of bordering on sheer tedium. I’ve always felt, and still do, that horror is unparalleled in the world of cinema for its ability to delve into complex psychological, social and political issues under the guise of populist sensationalism. In other words, you could watch a film like Jess Franco’s "Vampyros Lesbos" and get your rocks off by looking at all the delectable lesbian vampires on display. Or, if you’re more inclined to delve into a film’s subtext and discover what the filmmaker is really trying to say, you can unravel a rather conservative and misguided opinion on female sexuality that’s absolutely fascinating to the point where you’re inspired to direct a remake of the film focusing on the subtext of the original like I did. I personally tend to gravitate towards these kinds of horror films as they’re far more interesting and personify the full potential of what horror as a genre can do.
Having said that, I must admit I do have a softspot for the slasher fare I grew up on, which is why I was excited to receive a copy of Ryan M. Andrews’ feature, "Black Eve."
"Black Eve" is a bit of a complex beast in that there are basically three (four if you consider the ending) narratives going on from three different perspectives in three different periods of time. The main story concerns a plethora of ravers getting their freak on at a Halloween party held at the West Jefferson Mall. Unbeknownst to them, a maniac is on the loose slaughtering party-goers left and right without any fear of being discovered – after all, it’s a Halloween party and if anyone asks, that necklace he made out of that chick’s ovaries is just part of the costume. The second story concerns Jewel (played by Eva James), the sole survivor of the Halloween Holocaust. She wanders around after awakening from a drunken stupor only to discover that everyone’s been slaughtered. The fact that she happens to be psychic is only making matters worse as whenever she discovers a new body, she is bombarded with an onslaught of sadistic images showcasing how and when the victim who’s body she’s just discovered was dispatched by the maniac. And finally, the third story revolves around a young boy, who is also a psychic and an apparent witness to the crimes, being interrogated by a detective investigating the case. How the boy connects to the case and more importantly how Jewel managed to be the sole survivor at the party are questions with answers that cannot be revealed without ruining the film so we’ll leave it there.
Now on the surface, there doesn’t appear to be anything wrong with this film. It’s shot and edited well, the performances are solid and natural and the special effects are pretty wicked with some creative death scenes. But as I was watching "Black Eve" I kept thinking how bloody generic this film was. Granted, calling a slasher film formulaic is a little like the kettle calling the pot black but considering this is a sub-genre that dates back to 1960, you would think there’d be some attempt at reinventing the wheel here. Unfortunately, what few glimpses of creativity we do get are in the form of such groan-inducing formulaic plot twists we see all the time in horror, especially in the advent of films like "Fight Club" and "The Sixth Sense." In short, what really disappointed me here is that Ryan M. Andrews is clearly a filmmaker with chops and the potential to create a solid genre film but instead relies on the tried and true method of vanilla filmmaking. He plays it safe and doesn’t take the slasher film in any bold new directions. The result is a frustrating mess that only makes you wish you were watching the umpteenth sequel to "Friday the 13th," a franchise that at least had the audacity to try something new with each entry.
In conclusion, due to its blandness, stock characters spouting cliche lines of dialogue like when a detective is told he has to "play it by the books" and painfully obvious plot twists that make you wish David Fincher never directed "Fight Club," I can’t in good conscience recommend "Black Eve." That said, if you’re interested in learning more about the film, you can check out their official Facebook page at: http://www.facebook.com/BlackEveMovie