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Bliss of Evil (2022) Review

Taking place in Brisbane Australia in 1997, Bliss of Evil is allegedly based on a true story although “The names of those involved have been changed. Out of respect for the dead, the rest has been told exactly as it occurred”. I don’t know why filmmakers insist on doing this, it’s not as if anyone believes most of these films have any connection to real events. And so few of the few that do are even close to an accurate retelling it’s an insult to the viewer’s intelligence to claim it’s being “told exactly as it occurred.” Rant over.

Sound engineer Isla (Sharnee Tones, Combat Wombat, Daydream) is doing a late night session with the grunge band Prom Night. It ‘s kind of a personal thing, the studio belongs to her Uncle Michael (Wayne Bassett, Attack of the Cat People, Escape the City) and her girlfriend Nic (Shanay De Marco, Beach Towelenovela, Now a Minor Motion Picture ) is the band’s singer.

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The rest of the band consists of Rhea (Emily Rowbottom, The Portable Door, The Last Video Store), Roy (Brendan R Burman-Bellenger, House of Inequity, Chaos Reigns), and their new guitarist, Lee (Jordan Schulte, Louie Louie, It’s a Cult!). Also on hand are Jamie (Michaela Da Costa, The Reef: Stalked, Spiderhead) Isla’s BFF and the band’s only groupie Courtney (Chenaya Aston, Sweetest Nightmare).

Despite some talk about another local musician having joined The 27 Club, everyone seems cheerful until Lee suggests playing “Bliss of Evil”. This obviously upsets Isla and her friends know it, but she shakes it off and says it’s OK. And she continues to say it even after having an obvious panic attack.

Director Josh Morris (I’m Mature, Status Quo) and co-writer Corrie Hinschen, who also plays Bloodface, don’t stray too far from the slasher template. They get the cast, a group of friends, and a relative stranger to serve as red herring, into a remote location and trap them there. From there it doesn’t take too long until the first body hits the floor and the suspicions and accusations start to fly. Then they find out the doors are chained shut, the phone is dead and they will be too if they don’t do something.

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For a film made on what looks like two locations for around $10,000US Bliss of Evil looks good and makes excellent use of the recording studio with its small rooms and narrow halls. It gives off feelings of claustrophobia and of being trapped. 

The script does a good job of covering familiar territory with one major difference being the killer isn’t masked. We don’t know who he is or why he’s killing until late in the film, but the characters will, and he wants them to know he’s come for them. Unfortunately the obligatory flashback that reveals it goes on too long and steals some of the final act’s momentum.

The script is also peppered with plenty of cinematic references such as the band’s name and a reference to Prom Night’s star to exchanges like “I’m Lee.”, “As in Bruce?”, “As in Van Cleef”. How often does he get a call out like that? Of less value is the film’s 1997 setting which seems to simply be a way to not have to deal with cell phones.

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Bliss of Evil could also have done with a bit more on screen splatter. The killings are well enough staged and the effects we do see are well done. But the lower budget means things like a hammer smashed skull and a screwdriver being thrust into someone’s eye stay off screen.

When it comes to music themed horror Bliss of Evil doesn’t have the intensity of Green Room or the camp value of Rock ‘n’ Roll Nightmare, it’s more like a grunge Rocktober Blood. But it does have plenty going for it, that includes the title song which we hear in an acoustic version late in the film. If you like slashers Bliss of Evil should provide you with some happiness.

Bliss of Evil is available on Digital Platforms via BayView Entertainment.

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