If you asked someone on the street what they believe horror is, they more than likely won’t tell you bad customer service, jerk bosses, and cheating spouses. They more than likely won’t tell you a picture perfect life is having two kids and a white picket fence. Meeting Evil, directed by Chris Fisher, delves into modern day horrors like the above and puts a twist on them. Based on the 1992 novel by Thomas Berger, Meeting Evil follows the story of John Felton, an average every day guy living in suburbia. On the same day John gets fired from his real estate job, a stranger named Richie shows up at his door and takes him on a murderous joyride through town.
The true underlying story revolves around John and his ability to remain a civil individual. Too often in life, we encounter frustrating situations of disrespect and do not react to them or don’t really think deep enough to consider such situations as evil. John’s reaction to Richie is the same complacency, even with Richie’s violent reactions to everyday situations.
While the film definitely explores the idea that evil is inside us all, the twist is when and how we react to it. How often do we see injustice and do nothing about it? John’s constant reaction of ‘putting up with it’ is repeated throughout the film with every situation Richie places him in. Over and over, John is unfazed, as if living by Edmund Burke’s words of ‘All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.’ Only in the end, with his family at risk, does he finally stand his ground and take the evil within him and react to it.
The message of the film is exactly what draws me to horror. A deep look at the evils that men do and how society reacts and moves on from them. While it’s a strong message, the movie suffers from rolling over the same situations without adding much weight to them. We get to see only glimpses of the horrors of John’s life: a condescending boss, a beautiful possible lover, a picture perfect wife that may or may not be an adulterer. Yet, since they are only glimpses, we don’t get enough momentum from each to build emotions around their impact; it could be that some scenes were lost on the cutting room floor or something was lost in the translation. On a very positive note, the film does make me want to pick up the novel.
Perhaps it is in John’s constant questioning of why Richie is doing what he is doing and his constant response of “I’m trying to help you” that is really all the film needs in the end. Taking a step back and looking at our own lives – especially in this world where we can hide behind a computer screen and speak through texts rather than voice – how much better could we be if we didn’t just keep going through the motions and finally just mustered up the courage to react?