Resist Evil: a local film as genre cocktail

BY RACHAEL LANDER | MAY 14, 2009 7:27 AM

Those who believe Field of Dreams is the only flick Iowa is known for may get another one to add to the roster. Although it’s an independent movie, Resist Evil could end up as a breakthrough. The trilogy was mainly shot in Iowa City, and it features many cast and crew members who once attended the UI.

Resist Evil Part One: Dropping Evil will première Saturday at the Englert Theatre, 221 E. Washington St., at 8 p.m.; doors open at 7:30 p.m. Former UI student Adam Protextor directed the film, and UI alum Louis Doerge wrote the script. The duo took its inspiration from their former jobs at a popular local movie-rental store.

“I was working at That’s Rentertainment with Louie, and we had discussed making a movie for a really long time,” Protextor said. “He had this idea for this trilogy of horror movies, and we kind of decided to get our act together when we were at the video store one night watching Evil Dead II.”

Though their intent initially leaned toward horror, the outcome was a little less gory but still thrilling.

“We’ve had a really difficult time classifying it into one specific genre,” Protextor said. “At first, we started off to make a horror film, but it really changed once we started working on the sequels and kind of realized that we didn’t necessarily want to make a horror film. The first movie starts as a teen comedy and turns into a political thriller, and there are horror elements that get it there.”

So, essentially, the Resist Evil trilogy is what happens when American Pie meets All the President’s Men, and The Blair Witch Project then joins the fun. Yeah, for real. Or it could be something else entirely. In lieu of a more specific synopsis from the filmmakers, one is left to decipher Resist Evil’s plot for oneself.

Perhaps the film’s tagline can solve the mystery.

Despite the deity-focused subhead “God is missing,” Doerge doesn’t call Resist Evil Part One: Dropping Evil a religious movie per se. He said the film explores numerous religions and deals with issues of spirituality and belief.

“It’s so hard to describe,” said actress Rachel Howell, who plays Samantha in the trilogy. “I think I was talking to Louie once about it and how hard it is to summarize because there’s so much going on. It’s like horror and sci-fi and drama and comedy. I wouldn’t know where to put it as far as putting a label on it.”

So apparently, Howell’s view means people wouldn’t be far off in assuming the three Resist Evil films are a Psycho/Contact/Revolutionary Road/Wayne’s World cocktail, or at least something resembling that hybrid.

A plot does exist in the thick net of genres. Kind of. Resist Evil focuses on four friends: Mike (Tom Taylor), Samantha, Nancy (Coolzey), and Becky (Cassandra Powell), who produce abnormal ultrasounds while in utero. This leads a corporation, ValYouCorp, to place the young adults under surveillance.

Dropping Evil follows Mike, Samantha, and Becky as they take their nerdy friend Nancy camping with them. Trying to get him — yes, Nancy’s a guy — to calm down, the three slip him some LSD, and he begins to hallucinate that everyone is evil.

“[The camping trip] just blows everything wide open,” Howell said. “It just changes the fate of everything and everyone on the planet, which is pretty drastic.”

Howell said that despite the plethora of genres, Doerge’s writing was remarkable.

“What Louie created was really spectacular,” she said. “I don’t know how he thought of all that shit, but he thought of a bunch of shit that’s just crazy.”

So now, coat the rim of the Resist Evil plot cocktail in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nestto taste.
While many of the creative minds behind Resist Evil have trouble articulating the trilogy’s plot, the concept has occupied Doerge’s mind for a while.

“It was an idea I actually had my freshman year of college, so it goes way back to that,” he said. “I didn’t really do anything with it then, and then I wrote the first one. I would say it probably took — to actually sit down and write it all out — it probably took about three months, but I’d say it was about three years of actually thinking about it seriously.”

Resist Evil began as a 30-minute piece. After shooting the short, the filmmakers decided they wanted to create a full-length feature and expand the story lines. In 2007, the crew began filming all three movies simultaneously.

“We kind of discovered that everyone had gotten a lot better at what they were doing [after the short], and we decided we wanted to go back and remake them seriously as three features,” Protextor said.

Much of the cast and crew were in school, so they didn’t shoot continuously, and it took the team two years to complete the three flicks.

Resist Evil’s Iowa City roots extend beyond the principal filmmakers. Local band Lipstick Homicide makes an appearance in the film, with Howell singing lead on its two songs. Protextor took these connections into account when deciding to première the film in Iowa City.

“The idea of getting to show a movie for the Englert, for all the Iowa City people who made it possible, was really how we wanted to do our first screening,” he said.

Protextor and Doerge are editing the remaining two films in Austin, Texas, and hope to find a distributor for all three after Saturday’s event.

“I’m excited to see what people think of it,” Doerge said. “I mean, we’ve had like little screenings here in Austin, and there have only been a few people here and a few people there. I’m excited to see how a big crowd reacts to it.”

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