Writer-director David Grieco hacks away at the true story of the Soviet Union's worst serial killer until he's left with "Evilenko," a shallow, schlocky psycho-killer flick that wastes the talents of Malcolm McDowell.
By DAVID N. BUTTERWORTH
A.R. Evilenko was a devout, card-carrying member of the
Communist Party who killed and ate some 55 children and young women
over a ten-year period. Evilenko wasn't his real name; that's just
one of several admitted fabrications by Italian journalist David
Grieco, the director of "Evilenko" and the author of the book "The
Communist Who Ate Children" on which the film is based. The serial
killer's real name was Andrej Romanovic Cikatilo, a high school
teacher from Kiev, c. 1982.
Grieco's script cites 'Evilenko' because it "sounded good.
Evil, and -enko, y'know?"
|Written and directed by: David Grieco.|
Cast: Malcolm McDowell, Marton Csokas, Ronald Pickup, Frances Barber, Alexei Chadyuk, Ostap Stupka.
Cinematography: Fabio Zamarion.
Related links: Official site | All of David N. Butterworth's reviews at Rotten Tomatoes
| RELATED ARTICLES|
Philadelphia Film Festival 2005|
The writer/director also confesses that, while his book and
subsequent film are based on a real person and real events, he made
some of the stuff up. But this isn't some cheesy Eastern Bloc
slasher pic (supposedly). "There are a lot of subjects in the
film," Grieco adds, mentioning that the more he got into researching
"the monster of Rostov" the more he saw this tale of a cold-blooded
cannibal paralleling the Soviet Union's political climate at the
So much for the setup. If only the film were as earnest, as
well-meaning, as politically astute as its director intended.
Instead, "Evilenko" is a bloody, awful mess.
Discredit must go to Grieco, of course, who offers up a bland
and oftentimes embarrassing script that's laughable one minute,
nonsensical the next. He has selected Malcolm McDowell to portray
his central protagonist, and while that might seem like an expert
signing on paper, he plops McDowell down in a second-rate production
and expects him to give a first-rate performance without any of the
necessary supports. That, and he saddles McDowell with an Elton
John shag, huge and dweeby tortoiseshell frames, and asks him to
deliver lines that sound like dialogue exorcised from an amateur
dramatics production of "Sweeney Todd."
To make matters worse, with very few exceptions, all of the
supporting characters victims, wives, policemen sound as though
their voices were dubbed. Turns out they were! Not from the
Russian, so the lip-synching is off, like in an old Cantonese action
flick starring Jackie Chan (which might have made the film more
amusing at least), but from incomprehensibly-accented English,
"Evilenko" is totally devoid of background, insight, and
motivation. Is Cikatilo a tortured soul, a painfully troubled
individual as a result of a lonely, depressed adolescence at the
hands of abusive parents (which is typically the case)? We don't
know. Are his psychotic frustrations and sociopathic tendencies
purely a reflection of his country's political turmoil? It's not
clear. Grieco hints at something deeper, then dilutes his narrative
with dirty-old-man-on-a-park-bench scenarios, snatches of skin and
gore, and a "bares all" showdown between killer and cop that's as
ridiculous as it is pitiful.
We will never truly know the inner workings of a sick and
depraved criminal mind but "Evilenko" doesn't even try!
Serial killer movies are a dime a dozen and you'd be hard
pressed to find one as inane as this. Try "The Silence of the
Lambs," for starters, or "Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer," even
the overrated "Monster" instead. Better yet check out the 1995 TV
movie "Citizen X," which documents the Cikatilo murders from the
vantage point of the Russian forensic pathologist assigned to the
case it's available on DVD.
Too bad "Evilenko" is available, period.
|APRIL 21, 2005|
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Reader comments on Evilenko:
Evilenko from Charles J. Chase, Aug 13, 2006
crazy from kaoh, Apr 27, 2007
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