Reflections of Evil (2002)


Reflections of Evil (2002) still

director Damon Packard
viewed: 09/28/2014

What a strange, amazing head-trip this is.

Damon Packard’s passion project that became Reflections of Evil is so hard to describe in terms of other films.  Shot on video, and cobbled together with found footage from television and all kinds of other sources, the movie is a screed or a rage on a diversity of things: Hollywood, Steven Spielberg (in particular), post-9/11 paranoia, obsession, outsiderhood, childhood, America.  It’s loose, hardly straightforward, jerky, funny, perverse and demented.

Packard stars in the film as a varyingly obese street guy, selling watches, having breaks of sanity in a Los Angeles populated by people in perpetual arguments and fights with one another.  At the heart, there is a search for a lost sister, or something lost in childhood, something teasing at the brain yet never vividly clear.  It’s a madhouse both inside and outside.

It was only a week or two ago that I was complaining about the aesthetics of video in Tokyo Gore Police (2008), but here is a crazy, radically different instance where shooting on video makes the aesthetic totally function.  I did wonder if I would have thought the film better on film, but I was forced to confront my prejudice about the medium.  Packard’s film is something so different, it avoids any neat categorizations, both from genre and visual or technical aesthetics.

The sound editing draws a lot of attention to itself, in overdubbing first Tony Curtis in very obvious and humorous ways, but the sound dubbing occurs throughout the film in shots of people probably just caught on tape, overdubbed with strange voices saying things, like voices in one’s head.

Packard shot in Universal Studios in parts and maybe some other amusement parks.  It immediately brought to mind the far inferior Escape from Tomorrow (2013) that had gotten such press for being shot on the sly at Disneyland, also a sort of psychological horror show upending the icons of American popular culture.  Packard’s film is full, utterly replete with paranoia and an almost schizophrenic universe.  It’s mind-boggling. Brilliant.  Bizarre.

I stumbled on this title in my search of strange films.  I hadn’t known anything about Packard or the direction/aesthetics, intent of this movie beforehand.  And now I wonder why more people don’t know about this amazing, weird, disturbing movie.

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