“A prohibition vault! A place where, back in the prohibition, when booze was illegal, people used to hide their booze!”

Oil-heir Andrew Getty’s self financed, 15 years in the making, posthumously debuting horror film is an endlessly fascinating, problematic, and overwritten past the point of absurdity into disconcertion. The Evil Within exists in the mind of a misanthropic obsessive whose worldview is so warped even his most banal thoughts become lodged deep in one’s psyche.

Of course, all of the power that comes with such a singularly strange piece of work arrives at the expense of what might usually be considered “good” filmmaking. Getty’s film moves around in clunky fits, no one speaks like a person, and the central premise is ethically questionable at best; Fred Koehler plays a mentally disable adult who is terrorised and gradually made to murder innocent people, all in the service of “getting smarter,” a plot which requires significant distaste and distress, even before the legitimately frightening horror sequences come into play. As the plot lurches forward in horrific bursts, we become witness to Getty’s obsession with puppetry and performance, ideas so woven into the film that (intentionally or not) every actor acts as if held by twitchy strings.

Wild, broken filmmaking at its most beguiling.

“Stinking in the basement is OK if you’ve got the right books.”

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