Bliss of Evil (PANIC) Follows a Lean, Mean Slasher Machine
Title: Bliss of Evil
First Non-Festival Release: TBD
Director: Josh Morris
Writer: Corrie Hinschen, Josh Morris
Runtime: 83 Minutes
Starring: Sharnee Tones, Shanay De Marco, Chenaya Aston, Emily Rowbottom
Where to Watch: Check out where to find it here
This film’s review was written after its screening at the Panic Film Festival in 2023.
Isla (Sharnee Tones) is the trusted sound engineer for her girlfriend Nicole’s (Shanay De Marco) grunge band. Lately, she is trying to get her mind off a recent tragic event, one that Nicole shoulders a sense of responsibility for. Their band is practicing with some new members when they find themselves trapped inside their empty music studio. With no way out and tensions running high, the group begins questioning who they can trust when bodies start to fall. When things come to a boil, they find that the answer to their paranoia is much greater than ever could have imagined.
Gripping, low budget slasher Bliss of Evil excites with its gritty and dread inducing atmosphere.
A bare bones slasher to its core, Bliss of Evil doesn’t concern itself with anything unnecessary when crafting its lean slice-and-dice story. From the get-go, we are introduced to several blank canvases who, over the course of the film, gradually flesh themselves out into fuller people. Isla, is the noticeable exception. She is given more opportunities to grow as the central mystery relates back to her personal trauma that is whispered in closed rooms and traipsed over in bandmate confrontations. While this is a nice starting point, Bliss of Evil doesn’t delve too much into Isla’s process, but that isn’t necessarily a failure of the film. The focus was more on building the suspense and shock factor rather than Isla’s journey, which takes a side seat to the mayhem.
The biggest impediment to the film comes in the way of clunky flashbacks and a puzzling backstory for the killer. Of course, it’s clear that the film is making a statement by including these aspects to the story, but it doesn’t completely work by the end of it all. Entwined with Isla’s past, the killer specifically targets the crew after his removal from the band when he drugged and assaulted Isla at a party. An understandable reaction of the group, to a horrific violation. Of course, his instability morphs into something even darker when he returns to their lives. His story allows some aspects of the film to be more realistic: his knowledge of the studio, his understanding of how each person’s day-to-day looks like and what their reactions will be. It vacillates between the realistic reaction of a scorned man seeking retribution against very real claims made against him and a hokey villain origin story given how unnaturally powerful he is against the group’s retaliation.
Director Josh Morris’s ability to capture tension solidifies Bliss of Evil as a properly scary and stressful slasher-siege film hybrid. Using the cramped spaces of an indie sound studio, the team maximizes the isolation and claustrophobia by giving the heroes more reason for concern. The only exit is chained off, the neighborhood is rough meaning their calls for help will go unanswered, and some rooms are sound proofed meaning their ignorance to the violence around them is understandable.
It’s clear that the film is working against a tight budget, but Morris deftly tap-dances around that to deliver some gnarly scenes. Bliss of Evil is packed with creativity in its chase sequences and death scenes. Using the setting to its full advantage, Bloodface (Corrie Hinschen) isn’t afraid to use his environment to enact his sinister plans of revenge. Any instrument or tool necessary to create music is used against the band in gleefully devious ways making for some jolting entertainment.
Gritty and twisted revenge horror with moral edge, Bliss of Evil is a fine slasher with plenty of bite to satisfy the seasoned horror hound. There isn’t quite much new here, but that is okay. What is presented, is done with a steely sense of style and direction that keeps the action running and blood pumping, thin story and motivations aside. If you are looking for something that feels like a vintage slasher from the 80s, look no further than this Aussie flick. It’ll be music to your ears once you see the first cut of flesh.
Overall Score? 6/10