The Field Guide to Evil
Segment 1: Die Trud [The Sinful Women of Höllfall]
Director: Severin Fiala, Veronika Franz
Writer: Severin Fiala, Veronika Franz
Cast: Marlene Hauser, Birgit Minichmayr, Karin Pauer, Luzia Oppermann
Segment 2: Al Karisi [Haunted by Al Karisi]
Director: Can Evrenol
Writer: Elif Domanic, Can Evrenol
Cast: Naz Sayiner, Sureyya Kucuk
Segment 3: Kindler i dziewica [The Kindler and the Virgin]
Director: Agnieszka Smoczynska
Writer: Robert Bolesto
Cast: Andrzej Konopka, Kordian Kadziela
Segment 4: The Melon Heads
Director: Calvin Reeder
Writer: Calvin Reeder
Cast: Sarah Navratil, Jilon VanOver, Claude Duhamel, Paul Ford, Kannon Hicks
Segment 5: What Ever Happened to Panagas the Pagan?
Director: Yannis Veslemes
Writer: Yannis Veslemes
Cast: Vangelis Mourikis, Antonis Tsiotsiopoulos, Vasilis Kamitsis, Panagiotis Papadopoulos, Nikos Dallas
Segment 6: Palace of Horrors
Director: Ashim Ahluwalia
Writer: Ashim Ahluwalia
Cast: Niharika Singh
Segment 7: A Nocturnal Breath
Director: Katrin Gebbe
Writer: Katrin Gebbe, Silvia Wolkan
Cast: Thomas Schubert, Lili Epply
Segment 8: The Cobblers’ Lot
Director: Peter Strickland
Writer: Peter Strickland
Cast: Fatma Mohamed, Károly Hajduk, László Konter, Péter Jankovics
Part of: /slash Filmfestival
Seen on: 26.9.2018
The Field Guide to Evil collects eight different segments from eight different countries that all build from a local legend. As usual with anthology films, Field Guide to Evil is a mixed bag of beans. There are some very good segments, but also some that didn’t really work for me. But I would say, it’s worth seeing because the good parts are really very good.
[More about each of the segments after the jump.]
Kathi (Marlene Hauser) lives with her mother (Birgit Minichmayr). When Kathi gets closer to Valerie (Luzia Oppermann), her mother warns her: those who sin will be visited by the Trud (Karin Pauer).
Die Trud was my favorite entry in the collection – and I say that without any Austria bias. I wasn’t familiar with the legend before, but I find it very interesting. And what I find even more interesting is the way Franz and Fiala managed to avoid pushing the queer love story into the guilt corner. In the end, guilt and punishment are placed where they are deserved. Plus, the segment looks great and the creature design for the Trud is fantastic.
Songul (Naz Sayiner) is alone at home, taking care of her disabled mother-in-law (Sureyya Kucuk). She is also expecting her first child. But when Songul takes a pin from her mother-in-law, she gets a visit from Al Karisi, a demon.
My experiences with Evrenol so far have not been good, but I actually kind of liked this segment. It manages to nicely build the tension, giving us an atmospheric short film. I am still not falling over myself in enthusiasm, but it was pretty good.
Kindler i dziewica
A man (Andrzej Konopka) is found by a witch in the woods. She promises him infinite knowledge and success if he eats three hearts of the recently deceased.
This segment had something mystical. There is practically no dialogue and the narrative is extremely reduced, leaving quite a few things open to interpretation. Even if I may not have understood everything at first, I wasn’t bothered by that. Plus, they found a great location and the visuals were absolutely amazing. A very strong entry.
The Melon Heads
Arnold (Kannon Hicks) comes to a new house with his parents (Sarah Navratil, Jilon VanOver) and soon finds some new friends there. But those friends are pretty strange.
The Melon Heads didn’t work at all for me. It looked cheap (much cheaper than any of the other segments), the sound editing was really bad and the story was laughable – as were the Melon Heads themselves. But I don’t think it was really meant to be funny (not that it was funny – it was ridiculous). And the acting wasn’t up to snuff either. It felft like this segment slipped in from an enitrely different an much inferior film.
What Ever Happened to Panagas the Pagan?
Christmas 1984 in Greece. The men are celebrating which means that they are drunker than drunk. When they find a goblin among them, they know just what to do with it.
I admit that the specificity of the setting in combination with the utter naturalness of there being goblins was intriguing. But apart from that, I couldn’t really relate to the segment. When I saw it at the festival, I promplty fell asleep. I have since re-watched it and I found it very hard to take: it’s loud and frantic and I still don’t know what story it’s actually telling.
Palace of Horrors
An expedition into a secret palace, leads a friend of PT Barnum and his assistant to a Palace in the middle of nowhere in India. Many myths surround the place, but it is not like they expect.
At the festival, I slept through this segment, having watched it now in its entirety, I feel like I haven’t missed much the first time round. There are some interesting visual moments here, but the story didn’t work – and the entire “freakshow” angle was just no good.
A Nocturnal Breath
A brother (Thomas Schubert) and sister (Lili Epply) live alone up on the mountain. Winter is drawing near and everybody else has left already, but they can’t join them because there is something inside her, preying on everything around them.
At the festival, I slept through this one as well (risk of the festival lifestyle). Contrary to the other segment I missed the first time round, I was happy to have seen this one now. The performances were good and the story is pretty nice. Having a similar setting to the first segment, I can’t help but compare the two, and in that comparison, A Nocturnal Breath still loses. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t good.
The Cobblers’ Lot
The cobbler Tivadar (Károly Hajduk) and his brother (Péter Jankovics) make shoes for the princess Boglarka (Fatma Mohamed). Both brothers would like to woo the princess. Tivadar approaches the king (László Konter) who gives him a task to complete.
The Cobbler’s Lot is visually wonderful, creating basically a succession of slightly surreal paintings. It’s also definitely the segment of the collection that really gets into the fairy tale spirit that some legends have. I also liked that the story – while pretty dark and dramatic – does have a sense of humor as well. For me, it was my second favorite of the anthology.
Summarizing: More good than bad, with some definitely better than others.