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The Lesser Evil (1998)

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Ratings: 6.8/10 from 568 users  
Reviews: 21 user | 3 critic

When four young boys decide to go over-board with dealing with two bullies, they believe they can get away with their crime. Years later, new evidence appears and the cops are back on the ... See full summary »


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Title: The Lesser Evil (1998)

The Lesser Evil (1998) on IMDb 6.8/10

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Cast overview, first billed only:
Derek Eastman
Frank O'Brian
Ivan Williams
Young Frank
Young Derek
Young George
Young Ivan
Detective Hardaway
Detective Smitts
Derek's Father
Anne Haney ...
Derek's Mother
Matt Bohling ...
Dying Man
Chris Blackwelder ...
Matthew Francis ...
Jock #2


When four young boys decide to go over-board with dealing with two bullies, they believe they can get away with their crime. Years later, new evidence appears and the cops are back on the trail to solve the murders. The four - now the owner of a failing lumber company (Colm Feore), a priest (Arliss Howard), a policeman (Tony Goldwyn), and a lawyer (David Paymer) - gather in a remote cabin to discuss what their future actions should be. Told in harrowing flashbacks and with obvious difference of current points-of-view, the men argue out their circumstances. Written by John Sacksteder <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

lawyer | flashback | bully | policeman | priest | See more »


Drama | Thriller

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for violence and pervasive language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

28 August 1998 (Italy)  »

Also Known As:

The Lesser Evil  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


It is said you can't get in the trunk without the key. The Cadillac has an interior trunk release. See more »


Featured in Route 9 (1998) See more »

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User Reviews

Gripping indie film makes heavy use of flashbacks...
10 May 2009 | by (U.S.A.) – See all my reviews

A clever use of combining past and present to explain what is happening on screen is used throughout THE LESSER EVIL by director Jack Mackay. The story basically involves men who made a bad mistake in the past and have had their crime affecting their lives ever since. A reunion proposed by one of the men turns into something more than a mere gathering of old friends--and leads to another crime.

This is an independent film without wide distribution and it's little known among fans of the suspense genre. It's worth watching for the more than competent performances from a splendid cast, particularly the adult actors COLM FEORE, TONY GOLDWYN, ARLISS HOWARD and David PAYMER.

It's more a character study of the four friends than a straight thriller, but as the story unwinds--after a beginning narrated by ARLISS HOWARD as a priest giving a graveside sermon on a dead friend--it keeps switching back and forth between past and present to explain what is happening, each aspect of the story made clearer by revealing the past crime concurrently with the present action.

It's an effective way of telling a complex story of guilt and fear brought on by the killing of an individual and the extremes the four went to in an effort to cover up the crime.

The twist at the end comes as a surprise because nothing about the story is predictable. It's a well done independent film and one well worth seeing.

3 of 5 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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