Although "The Evictors" could be considered as a little bit too soft to fit into the horror category, I acknowledge it as a very effective and overlooked psychological horror film. I think it is a character-driven film, in which past events acquire a lot of relevance to build the atmosphere.
In "The Evictors", the story takes place around the year 1942. A woman named Ruth Watkins and her husband Ben, move into a cozy house in Louisiana, in what seems to be an isolated village. Ruth feels very lonely, since her husband is away most of the time and the other women from town don't seem very friendly towards her, except for Ollie Gibson, an elderly woman in a wheelchair, who also happens to be the only neighbor in the area. One day, Ollie invites Ruth to her house for a pleasant evening with some coffee and cake. Well, the pleasant evening stops being so pleasant when Ollie reveals to Ruth that, before she and her husband moved into their home, there was a gruesome murder in it. Ruth becomes rather shocked by this and she's even more shocked when she finds out that between the 1920s and the 1930s, there was another series of murders, which were allegedly very brutal.
Horrified by the events that took place in her house, Ruth begins to suspect that the person who committed all those murders is still around and he is out to get her. To make things worse, her husband is hardly ever home and Ruth doesn't have anyone to help her, except for Ollie Gibson, who clearly isn't much of a protection anyway.
The story is simple, but it's filled with well developed intrigue. "The Evictors" is an unpretentious psychological horror film that mostly features Ruth's descent into a transitory state of paranoia and fear, which threatens to ruin her traditional, happy life. Ruth is a defenseless woman, who suddenly needs to rise up and face an outside force that threatens her very own life. Of course, before rising up, Ruth tries to get her husband to fight for her, but when she realizes that he is unavailable to do so, she comes around and ends up doing all the dirty work by herself. Let's keep in mind that this story takes place in the 1940s, a time where women weren't expected to fight back and it was unimaginable that a frail and delicate lady like Ruth would match a big, strong man in a confrontation. The fact that this film takes place in the 1940s serves the purpose of giving us a lead girl facing severe challenges, since during those days, women were only allowed to say and do so much. If anything, "nice women" were expected to stay home, be good to their husbands, cook for them and, of course, make babies. Well, in this case, Ruth seems pretty comfortable with this arrangement, when she is suddenly pushed out of her comfort zone and is forced to step up and fight. I think this is interesting, because we get to see how our lead girl is forced to drastically change from damsel in distress to warrior, throughout the course of film. Towards the end, we get to see an unexpected and far-fetched twist that evidences Ruth's repressed desires, which in this case is romantic lust towards another man. This gives us another reason to believe that Ruth has changed and she is no longer that fragile and subservient woman that we see at first. My main problem with the ending is that it goes out of its way to give us a surprise, when it is rather unnecessary and it comes off as an attempt to shock the audience just for the hell of it and it's not even all that shocking either. "The Evictors" uses the perfect setting, which is a big dark house, located in the middle of nowhere, where the pretty and delicate housewife spends her the time.
This film features no gore whatsoever. The PG rating is a clear indicator that "The Evictors" is free from gore or nudity and it manages to stay on the "innocent" side, while providing a bunch of on-screen murders. The lack of gore and gruesomeness can be a let down to certain horror lovers, but the movie makes up for this with well created suspense and great tension. One thing that bothers me about "The Evictors" is that for moments, it is seems that Charles B. Pierce went out of his way to fill an hour and thirty minutes with never ending sequences that help to build tension, but that could have easily have been shorter and just as effective. All in all, a very enjoyable low-key horror film, done with a lot of simplicity. It can be highly enjoyed if one isn't expecting brutality of any kind or in-your-face horror elements, such as: visible supernatural elements, a profuse body count, beast-like creatures or exaggerated horror music.
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