Eve is the object of desire, a hotly contested character from Milton’s Paradise Lost, which is being turned into a $30-million screen adaptation. Bex (Rachel Warren) is a washed-up actress who had won accolades for her stage performance of Eve several years ago, and Alex (Christine Marzano) is the star-actress taking over the role for film.
As Alex prepares for her coveted performance, Bex is beside herself with jealousy and, eventually, rage. Alex also struggles with fame and finds herself isolated in her own home, a predicament that leaves her vulnerable following a disturbing home-invasion. Fake blood was smeared throughout the house while she was away and upon return she began to fear a stalker.
The premise is familiar and aspects of the story reflect many psychological thrillers of the past. The crazed fan genre is a tried and true formula that director Rory Kindersley effectively takes cues from while exploring a European approach to the film’s aesthetic.
The production is immediately striking and the composition of Eve is strewn with strange and eccentric décor. With the story set almost entirely in one apartment, a lot of consideration is given to how the film looks, and peculiar qualities – such as an indoor slide in the living room and a huge multi-coloured spiral staircase – enforce an uneasiness upon the viewer. Nothing about Alex’s living conditions feels normal, and as her paranoia takes hold, the unusual design goes a long way towards fulfilling the horror.
Marzano and Warren both deliver dependable performances as the starlet and the has-been, and convey their respective personas without over-emphasising the tropes of the genre. The fact that they look alike also provides a confusion (at least to this writer) within the first act as to who is who and what’s unfolding. Whether this was an intentional mechanism within the script, or just my staggered perception, it nevertheless contributes to the surrealism of Eve.
Where the film struggles, however, is in its lack of dramatic integrity and any fundamental hook. Little subtext is given to establish the characters’ personalities and vulnerabilities, and when bad things happen to any of them – particularly the two leads – there isn’t a tangible emotional stronghold for the audience to hang on to. Little idiocies also mar the sincerity of the story, such as police officers who have no concern over an evidently malicious home-invasion, or the fact that Alex waited days before cleaning the blood from her walls despite being scared to death every time she looked at it.
Of course, these are often the trappings of low-budget independent films, where making a viable connection with an audience requires experience. And in highlighting such foibles I would also – for several reasons – encourage people to see Eve. It remains a precisely decorated film with a full understanding of the importance of framing. Kindersley knows his frame intimately and doesn’t waste a single pixel. His colours and camera angles throw back to the Italian giallo films of the 1970s, and there are thematic parallels to the works of Brian DePalma and Michael Powell.
And furthermore, with a tersely running time of 75 minutes, the film moves at a cracking pace. It has all of the right technical moves, with enough dependency on horror to fulfil most genre-fiends. Its detractions aren’t necessarily distractions and ought not deter anyone from seeing it, but rather: let them be lessons on how to engage an audience emotionally. Eve might also be a marker-point for a potentially valuable future voice of thriller and horror, and I am excited to see what Rory Kindersley does next.
SCREEN REALM SCORE: ★★★☆☆
‘Eve’ is now available via iTunes and Amazon Prime.