Rarely does a short film display the kind of bravura visual imagination found in “Evelyn: The Cutest Evil Dead Girl”. The colors are electric, the sets simply fantastical, and the costumes most inventive. As conceived by director/co-writer Brad Peyton and production designer Lyne Wagner, “Evelyn” is not only a great-looking film, but also a wonderfully demented, gothic fairy tale about a lonely little girl in search of love.
The titular ‘dead’ girl, Evelyn (played with aplomb by Nadia Litz), is a wicked and self-indulgent creature, who “lives” a solitary existence in the land of the departed (think Halloween Town from “The Nightmare Before Christmas” or any Marilyn Manson video). Bored and lacking in friends, she passes the time by shooting down crows with her handgun. (No, this isn’t the girl to take home to mother.) One day, curiosity gets the better of poor Evelyn when she ventures out into the much sunnier land of the living after hearing the sounds of girls laughing. Out there she spies three girls, all very rich and very blonde, sitting on the curb and taunting a dejected-looking boy named Devin (Joshua Close). Back in her world, Evelyn decides that to make friends with the living, she must “kill herself back to life”. She does so, though I won’t say how, and is then able to make her bid for the three girls’ friendship. Of course, Evelyn’s decidedly mischievous nature gets in the way and her plan backfires, most spectacularly. She doesn’t find friendship, but as fate would have it, she finds love when she meets Devin, now the Cutest Evil Dead Boy (after a tragic accident takes his life). Remember, this is a fairy tale, however ghoulish, after all.
“Evelyn” borrows heavily from the dark whimsy of Tim Burton and the playground rhymes of Dr. Seuss. As influences go, you could do much worse. Yet it also conjures enough spirit and creativity so as to stand on its own. I particularly liked how this film, while on the surface so wickedly funny, was actually quite sweet inside. Sure, Evelyn is supposed to be “evil” and cruel (and indeed she probably is, by society’s standards), but she’s also fun-loving and endearing in a strange sort of way. She’s unapologetic about being “different” from the norm and just wants to find someone else like her. Now that Burton has apparently exorcised his inner demons through such films as “Edward Scissorhands” and “Batman”, at least there’s someone like Mr. Peyton to once again dream those dark dreams for all of us Evelyns everywhere.