In the 15 odd years since The Blair Witch Project came out, the found footage genre has pretty much been done to death. It’s been given numerous horror treatments, it’s had the sci-fi action thriller treatment in Cloverfield, and it’s even had a slightly bizarre superhero treatment in Chronicle. It’s been well and truly run ragged, in other words, and this is never more apparent than in Evidence – a film which that attempts to add a slightly different spin, but really only succeeds in showing just how worn down and stretched the genre has become.
Evidence follows a group of detectives as they attempt to piece together a brutal desert crime scene using damaged video evidence from a number of recovered cameras. The found footage is patchy at best and comes from multiple perspectives, all of which is meant to add to the central mystery and suspense that the film uses as its driving force.
The idea isn’t necessarily a bad one, but the main problem with Evidence is its characters, all of whom are awful stereotypes that we don’t care about in the least. There are the obligatory attractive women in denim shorts, the guitar-strumming jock, the surly bus driver, the teenage runaway and the mysterious crazy lady, and the only thing they all have in common is that none of them are even remotely interesting or original. There’s a half-hearted effort to crowbar in some back stories, but it’s a lazy attempt at best; the characters ultimately have no depth, which means it’s hard to be even slightly concerned for their well-being when they start getting picked off by the film’s blowtorch-wielding psychopath.
The only thing that really keeps Evidence moving is the central mystery as to the killer’s identity, and even that runs out of steam pretty quickly. The killer’s masked appearance and the conveniently distorted camera footage seem to be heading towards the type of twist films like this rely on, and in this area Evidence doesn’t disappoint; the only problem is the ending leans heavily on a shock-factor that doesn’t pack enough of a punch, and the twist clearly think it’s a lot more clever than it actually is.