Anyone who ever found themselves wishing for a cross section between The Cable Guy and The Exorcism, rejoice in thy ancient cursed tongues. Carson D. Mell’s supernaturally awkward brom-dram is a conjoined twin of ghost tale hula-hoops and male acquaintanceship hoopla. A batty genre-defying lark to its close, Another Evil deals with the clumsy delicacies of fledgling friendships weighed against the silly absurdities of cloven hoofs and blessed needles.
When Dan unmistakably spies a ghost or two lurking through the hallway of his vacation home one night – an opening scene accomplished with appropriate foreboding – he phones up slobbish ghost extraordinaire Joey Lee (Dan Bakkedahl). But when Lee reports that Dan and his family (Jennifer Irwin, Dax Flame) might be better off just learning to live with the spectres, he decides to break out the big guns and employ a “cleaner” with a reputation that precedes him.
Mell’s tongue-in-cheek brand of mumblecore horror-comedy employs supernatural deadpan to tempestuous effect, creating rousing comical tableaus that invite hearty snickers is not full-bellied laughs. Recruiting Steve Zissis (HBO’s Togetherness) and Mark Proksch (The Office, Better Call Saul) to bring their gawky physiques and Average Joe temperaments to the affair emboldens in Another Evil an emotional earnestness that doesn’t often rear its head in the genre. There is sincerity mixed in with the absurdity that keeps Another Evil from being strictly ridiculous, allowing it to engage on a somewhat emotional level. Keep in mind though, this is a comedy about expelling ghosts so don’t expect anything too cathartic or sinister.
Zissis and Poksch make for a reasonable odd couple, a pair of overweight, under-satisfied 40-somethings whose lives have either passed them by appear to be doing so as we watch. Zissis lends a kind of intelligent, reserved and prickly outsider aura to stand-in everyman Dan Pappadakis while Proksch creates a pitiable if not overbearing eccentric in Os.
Os is an impressionable, demented alcoholic. He’s also a no-nonsense exorcist. A man who took in so many stray cats that his wife up and left, Os’ troubled past lingers like a ghost, loaded with hookers, hijinks and a hilarious tragedy about being fooled into fucking the devil (who by his description doesn’t sound dissimilar from Elizabeth Hurley in Bedazzled, red leather getup and all). He administers exorcisms with a brewski cracked, over-revealing to Dan who, for the sake of social niceties, is willing to pal around. When their ghost situation jumps to the next level, so too does their sleepover bond, revealing that Os might just be the greatest threat of all.
The majority of the comedy of Another Evil is rooted in Proksch’s unsettlingly oddball performance, with the script from Mell’s allowing him a channel of off-putting soliloquies that will remind viewers of Jim Carrey’s disturbed titular loner from the aforementioned The Cable Guy. Proksch’s performance makes for a man who is touched, either by mental illness or the fanged phallus of Satan himself, and when he’s left to harmonize with his own twisted worldview were treated to the best offerings of Another Evil.
As a two-hander between Zissis and Poksch, the two performers have very little to hide behind, a fact that in this case actually benefits their revealing comedic performances. The script accelerates nicely, kicking into overdrive when required, though it’s notably short on standout gags. In that regard, there’s few standout moments that serve to bore into your memory when thinking back on the flick. For a comedic effort, there are stretches where Another Evil settles into its mumblecore malaise and the effect can be deservingly taxing. Nevertheless, the performers at its center push the lulls over the finish line while Mell leaves us to linger on an appropriately devilish final shot.
CONCLUSION: Steve Zissis and Mark Proksch achieve strong comedic effect as bumbling daywalkers haphazardly conjoined to expel evil forces from a family summer home, giving us an infrequently uproarious, mostly slow-broiling horror comedy in Carson Mell’s worthwhile if unspectacular ‘Another Evil.’