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History of Evil: Shudder Film Review

Paul shudder wears a hooded jacket in a forest in the Shudder film History of Evil

Paul Wesley and Jackie Cruz star in History of Evil, which follows an escapee of political prison in 2045 who’s on the run from the sinister theocratic government.

Bo Mirhosseni’s debut feature film is a personal and political ode to his parents, who were both human right activists during the Iranian revolution in the late 1970s. Mirhosseni has always had a desire to mix his love for the horror genre along with his political upbringing to make something he, and audiences, could relate back to the changing attitudes in society today. And ta-da! He’s managed to create the intensely quieting History of Evil. It’s a combination of the horror out in the “real” world along with supernatural elements. Think The Amityville Horror meets Battle Royale but very diligently streamlined to not be too over the top when it comes to the occult or gore. For a horror debut, it’s horrific (in the best way possible)!

Paul Wesley delivers an eerily good performance as Ron, the husband of Alegre (Jackie Cruz), an escapee of political prison, and father of six-year-old Daria (Murphee Bloom). Together, along with Trudy (Rhonda Dents), a trustworthy escort for their trip, they’re on the run and en route to an uncanny secluded safe house. History of Evil is meant to be set in 2045 but hauntingly could pass as the present day. In order to arrive at their hideaway, they must pass a checkpoint. Alegre and Daria climb inside cadaver pouches and wait for armed men to scan their ankle monitors, which will show a fake identity, so they can continue their journey in secrecy.

The four arrive at their safe house finally, constantly staying vigilant by wearing camouflage jackets so that the drones can’t spot them. They only plan on staying for 24 hours so don’t think too much of the only things to eat and drink being two bottles of water, a carrot, which Alegre gives to their dog, and slices of plastic cheese. They radio through to The Resistance, the opposing side to the government and the group in which Alegre is a part of, who are meant to be coming to their rescue but they’ve been delayed at the border. One night is what they initially planned so another can’t be too bad, can it?

What Ron, Alegre, Daria and Trudy are yet to realise is that the horrors outside might just be as bad as the history that the house holds within its walls. There’s no escape, and either way, they’ll be met with evil. History of Evil makes your blood run cold for the first half of the runtime, but loses momentum as the story reaches its climax. It’s cleverly created to make it an evil vs evil narrative where whatever decision the characters make they’ll be surrounded by misfortune, but that makes it feel a little bit too predictable. We know, whatever happens, it won’t be a positive outcome.

Rhonda Dents as Trudy, Paul Wesley as Ron, Murphy Bloom as Daria, and Jackie Cruz as Alegre stand in a kitchen in Shudder film History of Evi
Rhonda Dents as Trudy, Paul Wesley as Ron, Murphy Bloom as Daria, and Jackie Cruz as Alegre in Bo Mirhosseni’ s History of Evil (Shudder)

When Daria finds someone breathing through a plastic sheet in her wardrobe it creates such a sinister atmosphere, and I wish there was more of that imagery throughout. That image being on the poster makes you think that this will be a theme running throughout but it isn’t. Yes, there are ungodly horrors throughout, but visually, it needed to be more haunting. However, with that being said, the fundamental storyline and the commentary on society is nauseating, maybe enough to make up for the lack of hair-raising visuals.

Mirhosseni is not new to the directorial scene and his resume is already jam-packed with music videos that he’s directed for the likes of Mac Miller, Disclosure and Kehlani. With a debut like History of Evil, I can see his follow up films, especially if they are in the horror genre, being just as good if not better. Seek out History of Evil on Shudder and add it to your watchlist if you want a chilling thriller.

History of Evil will be available to watch on Shudder from February 23, 2024.

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