Although I’ve been a fan of Natasha Lyonne for many years now, watching All About Evil (2010) made me wonder why I liked her so much in the first place. I think the problem is that writer/director Joshua Grannell opted for a deliberately camp tone for his gory-horror-comedy, while I would have preferred to see the cast playing the script with a straight face, and letting the comedy come from how seriously they were selling the absurd premise. I understand that’s largely a matter of personal taste… and even though I cringed at some of the hammy acting “choices” and lame jokes, I can’t say I was ever bored , so I guess I’d recommend it… in a “rent-don’t-buy” sorta way.
Anyhoo, Lyonne stars as ‘Deborah Tennis’, a mousy librarian who steps-up to run her deceased father’s failing movie-theatre, only to learn that her wicked step-mother ‘Tammy’ (Julie Caitlin Brown) is planning to close the place down, and sell it off for a quick buck. Driven to a murderous rage by the woman’s bullying (and her lack of respect for the business of show), Deborah impulsively stabs Tammy to death in the theatre’s foyer, unaware that her actions are being recorded by CCTV cameras. After a wacky (and totally implausible) mix-up with the projector, Deborah accidentally screens the incriminating footage for a few faithful horror fans, in place of the flick they were actually there to see… only to be rescued by her faithful projectionist ‘Mr. Twigs’ (Jack Donner), who slyly convinces the audience that the recording was actually an exclusive short that they’d shot, in order to declare their dedication to keeping the theatre open, and the former owner’s legacy alive. Inspired by the audience’s rave reaction, Deborah immediately sets about filming more slasher-vérité shorts, to feed their gruesome appetite (as well as her own burgeoning ego), and dispose of various people who annoy her along the way.
Although, as I say, I didn’t really enjoy Lyonne’s (or Deborah’s?) overly-affected performance here, there were occasional flashes of fire, as her character became more maniacal… and I can’t deny she looked mighty fine once she ditched the cardigan and started dressing like an old-timey movie star! By way of contrast, it was interesting to see Cassandra Peterson ditching her glammed-up “Elvira” persona to play the concerned mother of the movie’s teen hero… and I think it’s fair to say she brought as much personality to the rather generic role as anyone could have! Meanwhile, Mink Stole appeared in a fun cameo as a fretful former colleague of Deborah’s… and Jade & Nikita Ramsey were suitably creepy as a pair of murderous twins, hired by Deborah to help run the theatre’s concession stand and maim innocent victims in their off-hours. For me though, the real stand-out was Ariel Hart, playing the hero’s snarky side-chick ‘Judy’… she didn’t have enough fight in her to qualify as a “final girl”, but she wasn’t a total damsel-in-distress either… and I thought Hart gave a refreshingly sincere and charismatic performance. Apparently she appears as a “beatnik” in Tim Burton’s Big Eyes too… so there’s yet another reason for me to check that film out, already!