‘You can’t run from a nightmare’
The Evil Within is a 2017 American horror film written and directed by the late Andrew Getty (1967–2015), grandson of billionaire Jean Paul Getty. It stars Frederick Koehler, Sean Patrick Flanery, Dina Meyer, Michael Berryman and Kim Darby.
Dennis Peterson (Koehler) is a mentally challenged teen who lives with his older brother John (Flanery). While John struggles between caring for Dennis and maintaining a relationship with his increasingly impatient girlfriend Lydia (Meyer), Dennis finds a friend in his own reflection in an antique mirror.
However, in reality, the reflection is soon revealed to be an evil entity (Berryman) who is more charming, smarter and stronger than Dennis, and instructs him to do horrific things in order to ‘fix’ his brain. Tortured and confused, Dennis embarks on a murderous rampage, collecting the bodies in his basement.
A police investigation, helmed by a determined social worker (Darby), targets the Peterson’s in an attempt to uncover the truth behind the murders. With the walls rapidly closing in, Dennis makes his final play, with dire results…
Co-producer Michael Luceri told press:
“After Andrew died, I made it my mission to see that his film was completed. I have been on this project from the beginning. Andrew was such a perfectionist, each and every shot had to be perfect before he would move on. When he was young, Andrew told me that he would have these really powerful, twisted dreams, so scary that he didn’t want to believe they came from inside him, so he had this idea that it was this ’storyteller’ who created the dreams, and that became the genesis of the film’s story.”
The Supernova LLC and Writers Studio movie is being distributed worldwide by Vision Films. In the UK, the film is released on DVD by Screenbound Pictures on 4 September 2017.
NB. The film has no connection with the 2014 survival video game of the same name.
The Evil Within is an excruciating deep-dive into terror, mingling the worst of both the existential and metaphysical worlds; an immediate association with Scavolini’s Nightmare in a Damaged Brain (1981) and Roffman’s The Mask (1961) come to mind.
Frederick Koehler is phenomenal as Dennis, flipping back and forth between mentally challenged and demonically evil; years ago I would always catch Kate & Allie just to watch him almost crack up while delivering lines; even though he was only a kid, he was the funniest thing on that show.
The writing in The Evil Within is outstanding, the imagery is breathtakingly horrific, the subject matter timeless, and the acting is pretty much tops. It was also nice to see Kim Darby. The film gains instant credibility by drawing a line back to the original Don’t be Afraid of the Dark, likely the best made-for-TV horror movie ever.
Ben Spurling, Horrorpedia
“Getty’s scares are surprisingly effective because they operate under nightmare logic: they don’t quite go as you might expect. The timing of the scares is odd, but the imagery is even odder. Getty’s shots are infiltrated by boisterously weird imagery and effects, the barrier between worlds is lifted with amateur charms, like an unfocused Lynchian nightmare. For all its laughable faults, Getty’s film is unsettling, brutal, harsh, and gives very few shits about your expectations.” Scott Clark, Cinehouse
“There are some effective shots involving mirrors, some suspenseful stalk-and-slash sequences and occasional moments of gore. However, the film doesn’t quite come together as a whole […] The tone is also pretty uneasy and tasteless in its exploitation of the mentally ill. It’s a very mixed bag, but worth watching for its visual design.” Evan Popplestone, Cinema’s Fringes
“The full film extends itself so far past “bad” and into “bonkers” that it becomes a curiosity of pitiably imprudent ineptitude. From disjointed fiction to overwhelmed ambition, The Evil Within truly is to horror what The Room is to drama. You should see it for yourself, if only to be in awe of its awfulness.” Ian Sedensky, Culture Crypt
“It’s everything you want in a haunted house story without ghosts; it’s a psychological horror without a clinical lifeline; it’s a slasher story without bloodlust, a possession saga without demons or exorcists, a creature feature without physical monsters and a metaphysical mind-boggler that taps into something primal. Andrew Getty may be gone from this earth, but The Evil Within stands as a testament to a bright career cut short. The film deserves to endure, though, by its own merits: It’s a strong, uncompromising vision that’s instantly compelling, perfectly paced, and hypnotically unfurled.” Joshua Millican, Horrorfreak News
“What really pushes The Evil Within over the line into masterpiece territory (ok, that’s hyperbole. i admit it) is in its creature effects. The climax of the story features some bonkers puppets and creatures. They’re huge. They’re ugly. They’re perfect. They evoke nightmares that we all may have had. Which is what the film ultimately is. A nightmare. Weird logic. Strange editing. And fight-or-flight inducing monsters.” Jason Dupuis, No Real Danger
“The opening is a blur of scenes – burning rooms morphing into garage facades, flickering face shapes appearing out of walls, a creepy carnival in the middle of nowhere and assorted juxtapositions of imagery – the likes of which one has not seen outside of a student surrealist short. The wildness of some of the imagery that Getty throws at us – the mother figure who has a mouthful of teeth for eyes; Michael Berryman’s corpse figure unzipping Frederick Koehler’s body and slipping inside it – leaves you absolutely slack-jawed.” Richard Scheib, Moria
“It is something totally unique. A singular work of madness spawned from the darkest depths of flawed genius. It is at once a bad movie and a great one and it really left me speechless by the end. I loved it and feel like it deserves multiple viewings just to begin to understand what Andrew Getty might have been trying to tell us.” Thakgore, Horror Society
“The distorted fever dream that is Evil Within does not hold up to the hype. Getty is trying to tell his story in some avant-garde poorly executed manor that comes across as a hot mess. I’m sure it made perfect sense to him, as it’s based off his nightmares, but to an audience it’s basically a higher quality student art film. Having said all of this, I still recommend you watch it. I can see this becoming a cult classic over time.” Ali Chappell, Horror Talk
Main cast and characters:
- Frederick Koehler as Dennis Peterson (American Horror Story; Dexter; Death Race and sequels)
- Sean Patrick Flanery as John Peterson (Howlers; Saw 3D: The Final Chapter)
- Dina Meyer as Lydia (Saw; Starship Troopers)
- Michael Berryman as Cadaver, the demonic creature
- Kim Darby as Mildy Torres (Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers; Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark, 1973)
- Brianna Brown as Susan
- Francis Guinan as Dr. Preston
- Tim Bagley as Pete
- Greyson Turner as Dennis as a child
- De Anna Joy Brooks as Mother
- Nicole Brandon
- David Light
- David Banks as Doctor
- Sebastien Stella
El Mirage Dry Lake, Guadalupe and Los Angeles, California, USA
The film was originally titled The Storyteller