Azmodeus’s job is hell. Literally. It’s the obvious joke to make about Necessary Evil, the feature-length version of a film project – written, directed by, and starring Randy Brososky – that began life as a web series on Telus’s online Storyhive platform and saw its theatrical premiere at the Edmonton International Film Festival on Friday night.
The dweeby demon Azmodeus (Brososky) works in accounts payable for Hell LLP, a corporatized version of the underworld where his coworkers can’t keep their hands off his office supplies, his supervisor doesn’t respect his contributions to the team, and fluorescent-lit office life is an endless, dull grind of small annoyances. The one bright spot is his kind-hearted colleague Persephone (Kimberley Philpott), who, unfortunately, as per the myth, only works half-time. One day, seemingly inexplicably, Az is called to the top office only to find an absent Lucifer has promoted him to CEO of the company. The books are in a mess, and he needs to figure out how to gain the respect of some doubting fiends like his acerbic new executive assistant Nyx (Erika Conway). He must live up to his evil potential and sort out Hell’s cash flow problem before the company defaults on its lease and its denizens are cast out of the building and into eternal torment.
Cue many easy digs at the special purgatory of corporate doublespeak, and tidy formulations about the evils of business and the business of evil. Yet, even though the conflation of corporate cubicle life with the inferno might be a tad obvious, there’s still a lot to like about Necessary Evil. It has uniformly great performances from all the cast (and a standout cameo from local cult celebrity Mark Meer as the slick Mephistopheles who has a particularly cost effective method for harvesting human souls). It’s a world lovingly crafted in makeup, costuming and judicious selection of locations and an engaging story that leaves the viewer wanting more – though whether this is by design or necessity is hard to tell.
Indeed, there’s an episodic feel to the film that betrays its origins as a six part series (that’s still available to view on the Necessary Evil website). In fact this version is just those episodes repackaged into a 53-minute whole. Those who have been following the Necessary Evil team as it progresses through the Storyhive process of presenting content online for viewers to vote the project into (or out of) subsequent rounds of funding and other support. They might be disappointed to find that the feature film version of Necessary Evil brings nothing new to the table. Things just started to get interesting in the last eight or so minutes before the film ends (the sixth of the online episodes) and the story seems far from over. Since the work is ongoing, perhaps there’s only one way to find out what happens next.
Check out necessaryevilseries.com, and support Brososky in whatever he ends up doing. After all, it would be a hell of a shame to miss out.
– Celia Nicholls
Image courtesy of Edmonton International Film Festival