Review by James Lindorf
Face of Evil was the ultimate passion project for Vito Dinatolo. He not only directed the film, he also wrote, produced, edited, composed the music, and was the cinematographer. Scott Baxter stared as private Jay Williams who is returning home after being injured in a Middle East war zone. His friends and family come together to welcome him home. Everyone is having a great time, but before the end of the night, a mysterious epidemic takes over friend after friend, turning them into rage-filled zombies. Baxter is joined by Chad Bishop, Jamie Bernadette and Janet Roth in his fight for survival and truth. Face of Evil is currently available on VOD and DVD from Gravitas Ventures.
You can clearly see the kinds of films that have influenced Dinatolo, such as Shaun of the Dead and Evil Dead, with their quick cutting and unique cinematography. There was also the influence of found footage films (don’t worry, the majority of the film is not shot in that style), and one other well-known film, whose title alone could spoil the end of this film. Dinatolo proves himself to be a jack of all trades, as no single element is awful, but like the other half of that saying, nothing here was masterful. I think he could have a successful career if he chooses to focus on editing or cinematography, which were the most substantial elements of the film for me. His music choices were poor, but still managed to clear the bar created by the poorly written and delivered dialogue. He did well as the film’s producer, scraping together $200,000. That’s a large sum compared to most independent films.
I liked a lot of the individual elements of the film and how it was approached as a zombie psychological thriller, which is a somewhat unique concept. What is turning the people into zombies? How do you stop them, and what if it is all taking place inside a damaged man’s mind? Thankfully when the credits roll we are given an undebatable ending. One thing we don’t get an answer to is the script’s obsession with the economic crisis. It is repeatedly mentioned from many different sources to precisely zero impact. Poverty doesn’t exacerbate the situation, there is no class warfare, and no one is in a better or worse financial position after the events of the film. It plays like someone who is still frustrated with the situation and is trying to work through it via this movie.
This wasn’t the film for me, but every movie is someone’s favorite. That person may be Dinatolo, but he may not be the only one. If you like the idea of a soldier struggling with PTSD while trying to fend off his murderous friends, you could have fun with Face of Evil.