Film Review: Evil Remains (2004)

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SYNOPSIS:

A graduate student preparing his thesis on mythology leads his friends on a research expedition to an old plantation estate on the outskirts of the Big Easy. The site is reputed to mysteriously cause madness and death to all who enter it.

REVIEW:

Every town has their fair share of legends and mythology. There are ghost stories so closely associated with a specific location that they almost become the history of the place. The people who died there are memorialized through these tales and stories of sightings after the deaths get reported and only help to build up the myth. Many times, these tales involve violence. A murder that is known to have happened helped to spawn the urban legend. People eat these tales up. They want to experience the paranormal activity, or they want to debunk the myth.

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The 2004 release of Trespassing (also known as Evil Remains) tells the story of a group of college paranormal investigators who trek out to a haunted plantation to investigate whether or not there will be any paranormal happenings. Mark (Daniel Gillies) is writing his college thesis about the haunted plantation where, twenty years earlier, a murder-suicide took place. Mark brings along his friends Tyler (Clayne Crawford), Eric (Jeff Davis), Sharon (Ashley Scott), and Kristy (Estella Warren). Together they search for signs of anything paranormal, only to discover that they are being murdered one by one.

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Trespassing was divided into two main story tangents. The first followed the three male characters as they investigated the house. The second followed the women as they strolled through the woods and stumbled upon a series of animal traps. What this did was separate the women from the men and keep the women out of the main story until the men had been picked off. It became a major issue as the male characters were experiencing dangerous occurrences while the women were walking around in some trees doing a lot of nothing. Every time that the movie went back to the women, it deflated the growing tension that had built through the storyline of the men. The two tangents only intersected in a small portion of the film, leaving the male and female sides of the story feeling like different movies set in the same world.

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Even considering that the difference between the two stories took away from the tension, there was not too much tension to take away from. All of the tension built through the haunting of the plantation house involved a character hearing something, confronting another character, and being told that it was not that other character. Near the end, it escalated into death. That part of the story proceeded so quickly that it hardly existed before transitioning back to the women. No time was spent to create fear for the audience to indulge in. There were small bursts but the constant feeling of dread did not come until the men were completely out of the picture.

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As the story of Trespassing became more about the women, it became a much more satisfying predator and prey storyline. The women were trying to escape a killer who was stalking them through the plantation grounds. It ended up being a tenser portion of the movie. Instead of breaking the tension through cutting to a less fulfilling story, this portion of the movie stuck to one tale and provided a constant feeling of dread. There was the looming threat of impending death over each of the characters actions. It strengthened a weak movie.

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Everything else about Trespassing was completely serviceable. The acting was fine, the sound design, cinematography, and direction was all okay. The main problem with Trespassing came down to the story and writing level. The characters were as uninteresting as the story during the first two thirds. Their relationships were not captivating and any of the strife in them went unresolved when the movie concluded. The conclusion was muddled and confusing, so much so that a statement saying it was written into the dialogue in the film. It left a sour taste as the credits began to roll.

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It was quite difficult to find anything to write about Trespassing as the movie was devoid of any memorable moments. The horror was not horrifying and the characters were not deep enough to leave any sort of impression. Instead it felt like a waste of time to watch the movie. There was a reason that I had never heard of Trespassing or its other name Evil Remains until recently. It was buried because it was not good. It should be reburied and never dug up.

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