Messiah of Evil is an oft overlooked movie that, while still mostly unknown, has developed a bit of a following among horror aficionados, and deservedly so. This is a solid creepy little film, with a few standout scenes and a nice feeling of dread throughout.
After receiving some bizarre letters from her artist father, a young woman, Arletty, travels to his home in the ocean-side town of Point Dune. There she learns that, not only is her father missing, but the town seems to be very secretive about his whereabouts. Arletty meets other outsiders in the form of Thom, an aloof arrogant art collector, and his two “traveling companions” – the sultry Laura and the tomboyish Toni. The visitors soon find out that the people of Point Dune are falling under a mysterious spell, one that makes them crave human flesh. Can Arletty discover who is behind it all before she too succumbs to the darkness?
Messiah of Evil is not a fast-paced film, but it’s slightly unsettling with a growing uneasiness that makes it well worth a watch. Some of the charm of the movie is that it doesn’t really follow normal horror conventions. For example, we don’t know exactly what the townspeople have become. Are they vampires? Are they zombies? This actually works in the film’s favor as without any preconceived notions, there aren’t any traditional rules to follow. People aren’t turned by bite, it’s more like a sickness that spreads quickly. Stay too long at Point Dune and you’re bound to catch it. And it all starts with a single trail of blood falling out of one eye. It’s not gory, but highly effective.
That’s not to say there aren’t a few things wrong with the movie. It’s very dated and set firmly in the year of 1973. It also seems to take a long time to get where it’s going. But stick with it, because there are scenes towards the end are well worth the wait, including a theater sequence that stands out as a classic moment of horror to anyone who has seen the movie. The acting is pretty good too for the most part. Arletty makes a nice enough heroine, and the other two girls play their parts well. But the true star is Michael Greer as Thom who goes from being a cad you hate to a hero you root for. It’s a natural transition and something you don’t often see done well in horror.
As I said before, the movie has a few wonderfully scary moments. However, there simply aren’t enough of them, it drags quite a bit in the middle and the ending feels a bit rushed. But the great creepy atmosphere and a few choice scenes make up for it all. Messiah of Evil is not a great movie, but it’s a good movie. And sometimes that’s all you need.
Rating: 6 out of 10