Fantasia 2018: The Field Guide to Evil [Review]

Field Guide to EvilAfter “Tales from the Hood 2”, a second disappointing horror anthology made its presence felt at Montreal’s Fantasia International Film Festival. “The Field Guide of Evil” made its Canadian premiere and unfortunately won’t be a classic to remember.

Mainly inspired by country-related folklore, “The Field Guide to Evil” brings forth 8 different segments; 7 from various European countries and 1 from the United States. The majority of the tales take place many years ago; some even hundreds of years ago. Preceding each piece is an ancient manual, flipping through its pages, presenting the title of the tale in addition to a short text, introducing the folklore at hand. Varying from sinful women, to demons present around newborns, to goblins bullied by drunk men, and many more, all short stories (except a silent one, along with written portions of the scenario and music to go with it (“à la Charlie Chaplin”)) are performed in their country’s mother tongue, accompanied by subtitles.

Unfortunately, “The Field Guide to Evil” is a snoozefest of squinting in confusion and shrugging in disbelief when the actual guide pops up onscreen, announcing the end of one segment and the beginning of another. Each tale either has an interesting plot but is tremendously unexploited or is simply uninteresting altogether. The American piece was particularly horrible in terms of script and even worse in regards to acting. There is no cryptkeeper within this anthology, using instead the manual to tie all of the tales together, which is fine, in its own sense.

There was one portion of the anthology that was quite creepy. From Turkish director Can Evrenol (director of “Baskin”) comes a legend of a demon that possesses a loved one surrounding the recent birth of a child. This was the only piece that truly got some chills out of me with some effective spine-chilling visuals and an interesting plot.

Regrettably, “The Field Guide to Evil” was an interesting idea in regrouping legends from different countries, yet failed to deliver something memorable and falls flat almost entirely. This horror anthology receives 2.5 stars out of 5.

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