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Movies about people making movies tend to be yawn-inducing, but movies about people making horror movies can be decidedly edgier. All About Evil is a black comedy directed and written by indie filmmaker Joshua Grannell, who puts a different spin on the film-within-a-film genre and takes a scathing look at the horror genre in and of itself.
It’s 1984. Little Deborah Tennis is destined to become a star — or so her father, the manager of Victoria Theatre, thinks. He encourages her to perform in the Wizard of Oz while his wife (aptly dressed as the Wicked Witch of the West) openly mocks her. Deborah is no Judy Garland, we soon learn, and the audience laughs even more as Dad accompanies his daughter on the piano. In her nervousness, little Debbie does a tinkle all over the stage (yet somehow keeps singing, a testimony to her determination to please her father) and has the misfortune to piss all over some wires, which electrocute her and leave her with a Rogue-esque streak of white in her hair.
That’s the formal introduction to the film, but I’d like to take a minute to discuss the opening credits. If the intro hasn’t already caught your interest, the title sequence certainly will. It features a vintage horror flick posters that change with a rolling fog, displaying cast and crew names to a kick-asstrack. That may not sound like much, but the minimal effect, visual esthetics, and nod to some of the best horror classics were enough to sell me on All About Evil. They’re what really grabbed my attention and hooked me, not the teaser.
The story then takes us to present day. Deborah (Natasha Lyonne from American Pie) now manages the Victoria Theatre after her father’s untimely death and holds a day-job as a librarian. She’s urged to give up “show business” by her mother, who plans to sell the company to a large corporate entity, stating that the late Mr. Tennis would have wanted it that way. Deborah goes hysterical, and a heated argument leads to a bloody stabbing in the theater’s foyer. The projectionist, Mister Twigs (Jack Donner, Buffy The Vampire Slayer), is all too happy to cover for Deborah, who turns from meek librarian to bold murderess within minutes.
The crowd begins to get restless when the movie doesn’t play on time, and a startled Deborah accidentally cues the security footage that shows the brutal stabbing of her mother. The audience is fooled into thinking that it’s just a short film shot by Deborah. Even diehard horror fan and theatre regular Steven (Thomas Dekker, A Nightmare on Elm Street reboot) is enraptured by her gritty production. And so a darker, edgier Deborah is born.
Continue reading the review on the jump, and find out if Jamie Lee recommends All About Evil in the verdict.
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