REVIEW: 976-EVIL (1988)


976-EVIL (1988): D

Socrates: Glaucon, can you guess the reason I had selected 1988’s 976-EVIL for us to view tonight?

Glaucon: I’m not sure, Socrates. 

Socrates: Another question, then: We have been roommates for some time, yes?

Glaucon: For many years Socrates.

Socrates: And do you remember in 1988 when our phone bill was inordinately high due to some mysterious charges for numerous hours with 976 numbers? 

Glaucon: I… well… we’ve – we’ve been over this, Socrates! Epicurus was the one who called those numbers, not me! I would never –

Socrates: Ah, Glaucon, see how you jump to your own defense so suddenly?! Are you certain it was not you who sought the forbidden knowledge these numbers promised? Might it be that “Epicurus” is but a figment of your imagination, a veil you employ to conceal your own transgressions? How is it I’ve never met him? 

Glaucon: Socrates, I assure you, my words ring true. Epicurus was a dear friend who became ensnared in the siren’s call of those seductive digits. I merely bore witness to his unfortunate descent! I would never –

Socrates: Pray Glaucon, let us not dwell on your sexual perversions any longer! I tire of this pitiable game and, quite frankly, feel sickened by your lies. Rather, let us delve into the nature of this film, 976-EVIL, if you are able to calm yourself and suppress your temper, that is. The title suggests a connection to those infamous phone sex lines from the past. Yet, it appears that the movie does not explore many sexual connotations. Why do you think there is a misalignment between the film’s title and its content?

Glaucon: Perhaps the filmmakers sought to entice viewers with the allure of the supernatural, Socrates. For example, they may have intentionally employed the misleading cover art – the long-haired devilish phantom on the cover – to captivate the audience’s attention.

Socrates: Ah, so you believe that the movie manipulates the viewers’ expectations through deceptive marketing strategies! But let us explore the actual premise, unless you believe it will inspire you to become too aroused for speech. 

Glaucon: Aroused?! How dare you! I happen to – 

Socrates: Curb your violent lust, Glaucon, and recall with me how the film portrays a scenario where calling the titular number leads to encounters with Satan and the acquisition of demonic powers. Is this portrayal effective in creating a sense of tension and intrigue?

Glaucon: I don’t believe so, Socrates. The execution falls short of expectations. The movie predominantly focuses on building suspense between each kill, failing to establish a strong connection with the characters while more attention is paid to subtle changes in make-up effects for the accursed lead. The premise itself appears rather foolish and lacks the desired impact.

Socrates: Glaucon, I cannot help but sense a touch of guilt behind your eyes while you discuss this film centered on a haunted phone sex line, as if the dark secrets of Epicurus might be none other than a shadow cast by your own actions.

Glaucon: Socrates, I beseech you to believe my words. Epicurus, is a creation of imagination? Is the embodiment of another’s transgressions? These are foolish theories. I stand blameless in this tale of 976 numbers and was but a concerned observer while my dear friend destroyed himself. 

Socrates: Denial is the enemy of the philosopher, Glaucon as it conditions us to avoid confronting the truth. Now let us reflect on the implications of the film’s ridiculous plot. The protagonist, a rather abused nerd, succumbs to the allure of 976-EVIL and seeks vengeance against his tormentors. In doing so, he becomes a vessel for evil as we see the consequences of dialing those sinister and expensive numbers. The deaths by claws and spiders and the possessed room reminiscent of the most famous scene from Evil Dead 2 are most memorable. These are the elements that shape the narrative, but still, the question remains—what dark subtext lies hidden beneath the surface? Can we discern any philosophical lessons from this narrative if we delve deeper?

Glaucon: It appears to be a simple cautionary tale, Socrates, warning against the temptations of power and the consequences of surrendering oneself to darkness and phone sex-related temptations. The film conveys the notion that the pursuit of revenge can lead to the loss of one’s soul and the realization of the futility of violence.

Socrates: Indeed, Glaucon, there is wisdom in your interpretation! Revenge, it seems, is a path that ultimately leads to one’s own destruction. However, I cannot help but notice a peculiar connection between the film’s themes and the experiences of your “friend.” Might there be more to the cautionary tale here? Could it be that the movie indirectly alludes to the perils of indulging expensive sexual telephone activities that affect one’s roommates?

Glaucon: Socrates, while the film’s portrayal of the consequences of phone sex addiction is gripping, I assure you that my involvement in such matters is purely observational. My dear friend was to blame for the phone bill. I believe we are again drifting from our philosophical purpose by dwelling on –  

Socrates: Then it is settled, Glaucon. 976-EVIL, while quite lackluster in its delivery, begs us to consider the consequences of indulging in hours of phone sex at the expense of our loved ones. Our souls hang on the precipice while our late-night exploits – like the ones of your… friend – prove to be more costly than beneficial. I am glad to see we agree so fully and hope you will seek professional help for your embarrassing sex addiction, before we discuss the sequel, Glaucon.

REVIEW: Devil (2010)


Devil: D-

The old lady is the Devil. There. Now you don’t have to watch this movie.

This long stupid monotonous movie is about a group of people trapped in an elevator. One of the people in there (it’s the old lady) is the Devil and everyone is wondering who it is. The premise isn’t awful; if this movie was distilled down to  Twilight Zone episode or a chapter in an anthology movie, it would probably be good, but as it is, it is too drawn-out and repetitive. At times, it reminded me of Cube, what with all the claustrophobia and paranoia, but those were only flashes in a very boring pan; weirdly, this premise/atmosphere is never developed. The movie relies on jump-scares instead of any actual story or horror.

The suspense is spread too thin and it just doesn’t work. Once this thing gets rolling, you are literally just waiting for the next jump-scare. Look, I really want to stress this: it’s the old lady. She’s behind all the killing. She’s the Devil. That’s the whole twist. I wish someone would have just told me that before I watched it.

I’m trying very hard to think of a movie version of the Devil that I liked less than this one who hangs out in an elevator (disguised as the old lady) killing people when the lights go out, but I’m having a rough time. All that comes to mind is Elizabeth Hurley in Bedazzled, but I think she was probably better. George Burns was better.

There’s this part where the “wise elder” character points out to the audience that “sometimes [the Devil] tortures the damned on Earth before claiming them.” For some reason, there are also about a dozen other arbitrary rules that the Devil must operate under like only attacking in the darkness. This is a pretty painful 80 minutes of exposition interrupted by jump-scares. I’m just glad they didn’t find any ancient scrolls or whatever.

The token Shyamalanian “twist” at the end is there, but I doubt you’ll care (not just because you know that old lady is the Devil; I didn’t, and I did not care one fucking bit).