“How about some canned wine?”
Ghost hunting has inexplicably become the province of the dude-bro. TV is littered with shows that feature former frat boys in black t-shirts traipsing through dark locales, not-so-scientific equipment in tow. But you have to figure your average ghost hunter — the type who hasn’t landed their own TV show on The Investigation Discovery Channel — is more on the fringes. Less buffed-up and blockheaded, more quirky and strange. After all, chasing after the dead seems like the type of hobby that calls to the antisocial. Such an outsider is the driving force behind Carson D. Mell’s quirky not-quite-horror film/not-quite-comedy Another Evil.
Artist Dan (Steve Zissis) is spending some time with his wife and son (Jennifer Irwin and Dax Flame) at the family vacation home when a strange disturbances suddenly start happening. Much to Dan’s terror, he discovers the house is haunted by two particularly gruesome looking ghosts. A friend recommends a medium to come by and investigate, but the guy who shows up is not exactly what Dan had in mind. The medium, Joey Lee (Dan Bakkedahl), seems to be making stuff up as he goes along, all while chugging a large Arizona Iced Tea. Eventually Joey Lee confirms that yes, the house is haunted, but the ghosts are benevolent, and that Dan is just going to have to get used to them. This doesn’t sit well with Dan at all — friendly ghosts or not, this is his house and he doesn’t want uninvited guests sticking around. So Dan seeks out a second opinion, and gets it in the form of Os (Mark Proksch), an “industrial-grade exorcist.”
Sporting a Crocodile Dundee hat and fingerless gloves, Os seems to know what he’s doing and he and Dan hit things off from the start. But as a weekend of ghost hunting drags on, Os begins to exhibit some strange characteristics and Dan begins to grow more and more uncomfortable. Another Evil plays out as a sort-of supernatural take on The Cable Guy, with the lonely, antisocial Os growing far too attached to Dan and his perceived friendship.
Another Evil is in no rush to get anywhere, and the film is so carefree and airy that it almost collapses once a dramatic, unsettling climax presents itself. What keeps things moving are the naturalistic performances from Zissis and Proksch. As Dan, Zissis exhibits a believable everyman quality — he behaves the way you’d expect a regular guy to behave if his house was haunted, instead of behaving like a character in a horror movie. But it’s Proksch, as Os the exorcist, who has the most to work with here. Proksch plays Os perfectly, somehow managing to seem both harmlessly nerdy and potentially threatening in each scene. Os seems exactly like what a real ghost hunter would be: not some lunkhead in a t-shirt on TV, but a hard-to-pin-down weirdo.
The scenes where Dan and Os simply hang out, waiting for ghostly activity, have a charming, natural charisma to them, even if they do stray into mumblecore territory. Yet Another Evil doesn’t quite gel. The film seems to keep forgetting about the ghosts, so every now and then one of the specters will appear for a quick jump-scare and then recede into the background again. And while the film’s dramatic, unnerving conclusion is well-staged and performed, it doesn’t really fit with everything that’s come before it. In the end, Another Evil feels more like a funny idea that would’ve killed as an SNL skit, but as a feature-length film it doesn’t stand a ghost of a chance.