THE FIELD GUIDE TO EVIL (2018)
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The Field Guide To Evil is an anthology flick that has folktales from around the world presented by directors from those countries. It’s simply stories, told from the title book, whose pages we flip through between these tales of the bizarre and the macabre. A simple set-up to bring to life eight horror stories of various styles and from a diverse selection of cultures.
As a collection of stories from around the world, each told by different filmmakers in their own style, Field Guide works very well together as a whole and the chosen stories all blend together nicely. Most take place in days of old though there are a few contemporary tales to chill ones bones. We get Die Trud from Austria and filmmakers Severin Fiala and Veronika Franz (Goodnight Mommy), a tale about a vengeful entity who stalks sinners. Turkey’s Can Evrenol (Baskin, Housewife) directs Al Karisi about a demonic entity that preys on newborns. From Poland comes The Kindler and The Virgin directed by Agnieszka Smoczynska about a man enchanted by a witch. From America comes Calvin (V/H/S) Reeder’s The Melon Heads about a rural North American urban legend come grotesquely to life. From Greece comes What Ever Happened to Panagas the Pagan and director Yannis Veslemes answers that question. The Palace of Horrors comes from India by way of filmmaker Ashim Ahluwalia and tells of a castle filled with nightmarish creatures. From Germany and filmmaker Katrin Gebbe comes A Nocturnal Breath, a story of a demonic entity and possession. The final tale is the most fairytale-like, Cobblers’ Lot from Hungary and director Peter Strickland, which tells of two shoemaker brothers who are both in love with the same princess…obviously, it doesn’t end well. The stories are all atmospheric and have their own unique visual style with Die Trud, Al Karisi, A Nocturnal Breath and Cobbler’s Lot being the most effective. The Melon Heads comes up the weakest, as it’s a thin story, loosely based on folk tales about beings said to roam the woods and the contemporary American setting doesn’t quite gel with the more old world style settings of the other stories. That being said, it still has it’s disturbing moments. Collectively, the film looks great for a movie that was crowd-funded, the cast all perform their stories well and there is some very heavy gothic imagery in most of the tales. Spooky fun!
In conclusion, this is a very entertaining, spooky and, quality-wise, consistent anthology. The folk stories from around the world make it very intriguing and give it a nice gothic flavor, with the different tales and styles mix very well. Even it’s weakest story still has some disturbing moments, with the best really enchanting and chilling at the same time. A highly recommended movie!
Rated 3 and 1/2 (out of 4) field guides.