Guest of Evil Image

Guest of Evil

By Michael Talbot-Haynes | March 6, 2024

NOW ON TUBI! Prepare for the cinematic equivalent of a Bazooka Joe graphic novel with bizarro filmmaker Frank Sudol’s wacko animated feature Guest of Evil. The movie takes place in an alternate universe where everyone is some sort of anthropomorphic monster (all of which Sudol voices), living in decrepit buildings and driving rusted wrecks. One monster comes home from work and goes to bed, only to have Hagettah Hag float in through his bedroom door. She has a green skull with glowing eyes, and everything below her torso is missing. Hagettah leans over the sleeping monster and sucks all the blood out of him, with a fleshy sack on her back expanding as it fills with blood. She then goes outside and waits in the street.

As Brahn Forh Lobster leaves work at the funeral home, Hagettah accosts him, begging for help. She tells him she is a homeless old woman who needs to borrow his phone to call her brother to pick her up. Brahn Forh refuses, so she begs him for a ride to somewhere where she can make a phone call. They drive to the gas station, but it’s closed. They drive to the motel, which is also closed. He relents and lets her sleep on the couch. She proceeds to make a bunch of noise as well as make a huge mess by vomiting blood and entrails everywhere. The problem is that now she won’t leave. After contacting the police, the receptionist informs Brahn Forh that because he invited Hagettah in, she is now considered a guest. If she doesn’t leave, he must present her with a notice of eviction and give her 30 days to honor it before he can go to the courts. Meanwhile, Hagettah is eyeing Brahn Forh hungrily as her blood sack gets used up.

Guest of Evil is a brutal cage fight of style over substance. It has a lot going for it style-wise. Sudol uses a cut-out animation technique that works much better than I thought it would. His creature creations are nicely detailed and quite appealing. The juxtaposition of the strangeness of the monsters with the mundane activities of daily life works well. Everything has this Mercer Mayer vibe. The gas station bat is wonderfully designed. I also liked the commitment to the environment, with all the buildings and storefronts fading and peeling (like many parts of Boston).

“…because he invited Hagettah in, she is now considered a guest.”

This also deals with a subject that is quite topical. I suspect that squatters are a hot-button issue with many Californians. The film doesn’t demonize the homeless at all, as everyone here is technically demonized. Also, Hagettah is a vampiric entity pretending to be a homeless old lady, so shame on her. I think Sudol found a nifty niche with his monstrous visions of day-to-day living.

However, the substance leaves a lot to be desired. Sometimes, Sudol’s acting is pretty good. Other times, he uses accents and affectations that are annoying. Also, the story is very thin, with only a first act stretched out to cover where the second and third acts go. There is no explanation as to why Hagettah just strolls on into one house at night to feed but has to go through this whole song and dance with Brahn Forh for days. Whatever annoyance he feels, the audience feels it ten times more.

It is tragic that with this magnificent toolbox, Sudol has more effort wasn’t put into the plot. Don’t take a plot the size of a comic strip wrapped around bubble gum and try to make it feature-length. If it isn’t interesting enough for a sitcom, then clocking in over an hour is excruciating. There are some weirdo animation fans out there who can get stoned enough to tolerate Guest of Evil. Everyone else needs to wait until Sudol can shave off the accents and develop a richer narrative for his little monsters.

Guest of Evil (2023)

Directed and Written: Frank Sudol

Starring: Frank Sudol, etc.

Movie score: 5/10

Guest of Evil Image

"…has a lot going for it style-wise."

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