Surviving Evil – An’t It Cool


Directed by Terence Daw
Written by Terence Daw
Starring Billy Zane, Christina Cole, Natalie Mendoza, Joel Torre, Louise Barnes, Colin Moss, Gerald Zarcilla
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Reviewed by Ambush Bug

Though it could have gone the route of the found footage motif, I’m glad SURVIVING EVIL aka EVIL ISLAND went a more traditional way to tell their story of jungle horror. Being a fan of this type of scarefest, I found myself pleasantly surprised by this clichéd but well done tropic terror.

This is an odd little jungle nugget of a movie, just shy of great because of some boneheaded moves in the script. Instances of characters suggesting they all split up, ignoring obvious signs of something being off, and other things that normal people with two brain cells to rub together wouldn’t do in this situation if it existed in the real world makes SURVIVING EVIL a film that shoots itself in the foot narratively.

The monster du jour is the Pilipino legend of the Aswang, a sort of jungle vampire monkey creature that shifts its shape and cannot go underground for some reason. They also appear to be afraid of fire and bright light. So while the rules of the game are somewhat murky here, the actual beasts are quite creepy looking, all teeth and blood covered—looking a lot like a life-size Zuni fetish doll from TRILOGY OF TERROR.

The performances here are fun as well, with Billy Zane chewing up the scenery literally as a survivalist who knows what to eat and where to sleep as the star of a jungle survival show, the type one sees on Discovery and channels like that. Zane, though he seems horribly underused in Hollywood, has that corny yet commanding presence that few actors possess; perfect for this type of role. Also along for the ride is Natalie Mendoza, who played the spunky spelunkerer Juno in THE DESCENT; here she takes on similar beasties above ground, but has a softer character with less to work with this time around. Mendoza is another face I was sure I’d see more of after THE DESCENT, but for some reason she hasn’t been around (though some research shows that Mendoza has been performing in the Broadway version of SPIDER-MAN for the last few years, which explains her cinematic absence). The rest of the cast is not as well known, but equally capable of handling the chores the script requires.

Ultimately predictable and at times head-slappingly clichéd, still I had fun with SURVIVING EVIL, more for the strong performances from the cast and an original monster than the flawed script.