The Evil Within also known as The Storyteller was the passion project of the late Andrew Getty an oil heir, businessman, film director and philanthropist who sadly passed away in 2015 aged only 47. Taking over a decade to complete stretching past his death this dark tale of dreams and nightmares has been finally released taking us on a warped ride into the mind of the main character and its creator.
Opening in the dreams of the main character Dennis (American Horror Story and Death Race star Frederick Koehler) we hear in voice over how terrible nightmares have always plagued his life starting when he was 4 and dreamt a particularly disturbing trip to a carnival ghost train.
Visited repetitively by the grey gruesome malevolent Cadaver (horror legend Michael Berryman) who controls Dennis’s slumbering mind things take a surreal turn when a mirror that he sees while asleep appears in his home purchased by his brother and full time carer John (Sean Patrick Flanery).
John who has supported his mentally challenged brother his whole life is desperate to sell their house so he can afford to place Dennis into a facility equipped to look after him rather than a state run hospital which seems the only other option.
Wracked with guilt and pressured by his long term girlfriend Lydia (Dina Meyer from Starship Troopers and Saw) to act soon due to the stress it is putting him under he misses the changes taking place in Dennis since the mirrors arrival, changes which are taking him on a very distressing path.
Inside the mirror lives another Dennis one controlled by the Cadaver and one that has started to explain a plan to the real Dennis to become more intelligent and popular and prove everyone around him that he is not the stupid moron they think he is. The plan starts by killing a cat but where it takes Dennis is on a journey towards death and destruction that he will never be able to return from.
Haunted according to producer Michael Luceri by “powerful, twisted dreams, so scary that he didn’t want to believe they came from inside him” Andrew Getty who wrote and directed The Evil Within used his own experiences to create a powerful and poignant film about the petrifying power of the mind and how easy it is to lose oneself in the void where nightmares come from.
Creating his own complex special effects and animatronics and shooting much of the principal photography in his home Getty ‘s vision is brilliantly and horribly brought to life as the film constantly shifts between Dennis’s sleep and waking world creating chaos and confusion for him and the audience desperately trying to distinguish between the two.
Capturing perfectly the distorted and wicked world we often find ourselves in at night, much like the equally terrifying documentary The Nightmare by Rodney Ascher, Getty blends the spookily surreal style of David Lynch with John Carpenter unhinged and unnatural body horror crafting some extremely creepy scenes that are truly unsettling.
Alongside this is the realistic plotline of Dennis’s day to day care and the strain it puts on John who wants to do the best for his brother a desire that blinds him when Dennis’s dark desires take over and he starts locking himself in the basement with taxidermy DVD’s and a large chest freezer.
For all the terrible things he does Dennis somehow remains a sympathetic character mainly due to the constant battle between his light and dark selves that we see played out and also because of the excellent performance from Frederick Koehler who flips between self-loathing innocence and insecurity and the menacing articulate man in the mirror who slowly and sinisterly takes over Dennis’s mind.
Featuring some amazing and deeply disconcerting visuals that cleverly and creepily capture the world of nightmares The Evil Within is a solid horror story from a talented filmmaker who sadly didn’t get a chance to tell us another tale from his twisted imagination.