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Instruments Of Evil:
A Musical Horror Comedy, In 3 Parts.
A Review By: Fuzzy Mickael
The cops of Precinct 23 have more than a few tales to tell. For a relatively quiet Canadian town, you wouldn’t think the police are seeing much action, but you’d be dead wrong. When the chief decides to consolidate all of their physical evidence to a single location, the officers tell the stories behind some of the more unique items in their possession. These various “instruments of evil” each have a peculiar and macabre history, the details of which are shared through flashbacks and musical montages.

Full disclosure: this is a low budget indie film, so set your expectations accordingly. Do NOT anticipate an expertly-filmed, multi-million dollar production, replete with incredible set pieces and B-list celebrity cameos. This independent Canadian flick features party store costumes, awkward line delivery, and all the production values of a porn video. That being said, thanks to the Vikings, the voodoo, and the Klingon-speaking hooker; this movie is tons of fun!
The film opens with an ancient Norse myth about Loki using a demon band to distract Odin, so that Loki may seduce Odin’s wife. This tale appropriately introduces the magical elements that are absolutely essential to the rest of the film. They utilize the pieces of this demon band (instruments of voice, percussion, string, and wind) to tell several twisted tales of the cursed musical instruments that have found their way to this police station. If you’re a fan of horror anthologies, like Creepshow (1982), The ABCs Of Death (2012), or Body Bags (1993); then you’ll be familiar with this storytelling technique.

The three stories in this anthology are the self-explanatory “Hip Hop Zombies”, a killer Christmas version of Saw called “Gratuitous Violins”, and the face-melting “Heavy Metal Devil”. Naturally, there’s also a wrap-around that ties all of the tales together. It’s in this that the film really excels; they manage to tell a complete story from start to finish, even though they use sort of a short-attention-span/Mad Libs storytelling technique to get there!
All of the stories contain wacky caricatures of various stereotypical small-town residents. There’s the record-store hipster, the white rapper, the wannabe thugs, the lazy cop, the little old lady who obsesses over her cat, the metalheads that dream of making it big, and of course the Voodoo practitioner that just moved in to the local strip mall. (Who isn’t sick and tired of seeing voodoo shops popping up like Starbucks?!)

Each story also delivers on the death and gore, without ever sinking into the slow, methodical pacing of most indie horror films. The comedy is really king here, with every scene playing out more as a horror parody than as an homage to the classics. Fans of campy B-movies will burst with joy, while die-hard horror fanatics will likely turn away. The sight gags and ludicrous gore effects are a welcome climax to each of the segments.
What really impresses about this movie isn’t that it’s fun to watch, it’s that it MUST have been fun to make. While the directors, Huw Evans and Curtis Anderson, did a phenomenal job with the technical side of things, like transitions and framing and establishing shots; you can tell that they also put a lot of effort into the writing. The musical performances are basic, but still fun and they never interfere with the pacing (a common problem in musicals).

The dialogue is chock-full of one-liners, alliterative commentary, and puns. There is a Mad Magazine-like attention to background gags. The corny costumes and campy acting are more than just byproducts of a lack of funding; in my opinion, they’re absolutely essential to the spirit of this movie. If you gave Huw Evans and his crew $20,000,000 and access to a major Hollywood studio’s backlot, costumes, and prop department to recreate this film, the result would be unwatchable. The very reason why I love this movie is that it’s exactly the wacky, weird movie you’d hope to make with your very best friends and family members. It’s a labor of love. A whacked-out, goofy, sarcastic, random (but ultimately supremely fun and enjoyable) labor of love.
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