It’s nice to find a relatively high-minded, restrained — dare I say classy? — urban horror tale that doesn’t revolve around crude stereotypes or titles with Z’s where S’s should be, but after about two hours, restraint and class will put your ass to sleep. The Evil One is at least 20 minutes too long and will no doubt have you scrambling for the remote control more than once, but on the bright side, it’s atmospheric and not overly dumb. (How’s that for a compliment?)
Honestly, in between naps, I might’ve missed some plot points, but the story has an intriguing premise, revolving around the (supposed) first serial killer in America, Herman Mudgett. Unfortunately, the film doesn’t focus on Mudgett’s real-life exploits back in the 1890s, when he killed as many as 200 people in his Chicago “torture castle.” Rather, we get a less exciting (and less expensive) modern-day tale of a serial killer in Chicago who may or may not be Mudgett’s ghost. The story plays with urban mythology similar to the way that Candyman did a decade earlier, with the story going that Mudgett was buried face down — towards Hell — and that the descendants of the 13 men who did so are now cursed until someone turns him right-side up. So why would it take almost two hours to do so? Damn CPT.
The image of the pallid, bowler-wearing Mudgett cuts a striking, unique figure for a horror villain, but he does little beyond lurking in the shadows — which would explain why he needs a tan so badly. The Evil One has little gore because, well, it has little action…not to mention little acting, little budget and ultimately, little interest.