Bite-size horror for those who enjoy their shocks in smaller doses, Deathgasm Producer Ant Timpson’s thematic follow-up to the ABCs of Death focuses on the myth and folklore that has pervaded centuries of fear.
An anthology of the unnerving derived from the tales of several predominantly non-English speaking countries, what emerges is several Directors varied takes on moral fables that have ever made us go bump in the night. Produced tangentially with a broad brief, it is remarkable how many, notable among them the first few, contain consistent themes and comparable demonic imagery.
More focused on conceptions of the occult in parts, the first feature, which manages some of the more nerve-wracking scares, too errs greatly by committing that age-old sin of showing us that bit too much of our terror. Finding its stride when teasing and intimating ideas and their physical manifestations that have long plagued us, the sparing shorts that grant us too much too early but detract that wonder intrinsic to The Field Guide to Evil’s age-old appeal.
Widely interpreting the criteria, segments vary from an abundantly literal take on a classic fable to more modern showings that place ancient fears in a much more recognisable context. The ones that do this, including an appearance by a crazed scientist of sorts and that ever-pesky well, amongst their counterparts render themselves fairly more distinct and jarringly relatable, even if they are on occasion not nearly as unsettling as some of their precursors.
Achieving its intent to greatest effect with the invocation of some classically turpitudinous imagery, The Field Guide to Evil is conversely not above a bit of fantastical exuberance, recognising at several instances that the grim foreboding with which it laces its series lends itself to contemplative, quiet fascination as much as jump-scares.
A welcome anthology which deftly harnesses some of our most primordial jitters, The Field Guide to Evil has something for just about every horror fan amongst this collection of thrillers.
The Field Guide to Evil had its Australian premiere at the Sydney Film Festival
For an interview with Producer Ant Timpson see here