Isla (Sharnee Tones) is a sound engineer in Brisbane, Australia, who has offered her family’s recording studio to her girlfriend Nic (Shanay De Marco) and her grunge band Prom Night to rehearse for a potentially career-making concert. Isla comes with a fair amount of almost ambient emotional baggage and she’s jumpy at best, but she’s determined to push through and plays things business-as-usual, if only for Nic’s sake. Dealing with a cocky new band member on one hand and the various competing overzealous sex drives of everyone else, Isla has her work cut out for her – and that’s even before a strange, hooded figure from their past decides to slash through them one by one.
For a film made for just under $10k US dollars, Bliss of Evil punches comfortably above its weight, earning a place on the programme of a slew of international film festivals including Cine-Excess in the UK and Panic Fest and Salem Horror Fest in the US. Incorporating elements of the slasher film and a number of other horror subgenres, there’s enough generic scaffolding for this to feel like familiar territory, while at the same time providing enough twists and turns to the tried-and-true formulas for it to not feel entirely predictable.
Not everything is necessarily watertight – the acting is uneven, the production and costume design is pretty basic, and the setting of the film in the 1990s frankly bewildering – but there’s a sincerity and earnestness to Bliss of Evil that for those of us familiar with the delights of low-budget genre filmmaking, most of this can be forgiven. What makes this film stand out, however, is the twist in the tail. What at first on the surface appears to be a somewhat clunky, ham-fisted approach to trauma is, when the film is taken as a whole, in fact surprisingly shrewd; an ambiguous ending allows the entire movie to be rethought from scratch, adding impressive thematic clout that can easily be missed on first viewing. A promising and engaging horror feature from a part of Australia not particularly renowned for its genre filmmaking, Bliss of Evil might just be exactly the kind of diamond-in-the-rough genre fans love to uncover.