Fantastic Fest 2014 Review/Interview: EVERLY

By Mark Saldana

Rating: 3 (Out of 4 Stars)

From Joe Lynch, the director of Knights of Badassdom and Wrong Turn 2: Dead End comes a wild, balls-to-the-wall, insane action movie which, at Fantastic Fest, was often described as Die Hard with a female hero.  Starring Salma Hayek as the title character, Everly is a fun and crazy ride of a movie that will have some audiences applauding and others (with no sense of humor) booing and hissing.  As for the Fantastic Fest audiences who watched in awe, they seemed to eat it all up.  As for me, I can honestly say that I had a great time with it.

Tis the season to be jolly.  That is; unless your name is Everly.  On Christmas Eve, Everly finds herself the victim of a vicious attack by some of her past criminal associates.  Once a high priced call girl, she betrays mob boss Taiko (Hiroyuki Watanabe) and his organization by agreeing to become a police informant. When Taiko catches wind of this, he sends his soldiers to take her out.  Taiko’s men get a lot more than what they bargained for, as Everly turns out to be a ferocious killer, willing to fight for her life and the lives of her family.  As the night continues, she remains trapped in her apartment and must face a gauntlet of criminal heavies, each more skilled and more dangerous than the rest.

With this film, Lynch has made an awesomely entertaining film.  The film is hyper-violent, but not really intended to be too realistic or taken too seriously.  On the other hand, Lynch and co-writer Yale Hannon do provide some gravity and poignancy to the story, making Everly a more sympathetic character.  Still, if some audience members go into this movie expecting absolute realism, then they are missing the point. Some of the scenarios are far-fetched, but they are all designed and executed for the purpose of entertainment.

In addition to my praise for Lynch and Hannon, I must heartily applaud Salma Hayek for her intense performance.  She really brings it when it comes to the strength and ferocity of her character.  I spoke with Joe Lynch about the movie and Salma during Fantastic Fest and he had nothing but great things to say about her.  “A force to be reckoned with! Salma came to us and really pushed for it, and now, I don’t know who else could play that role.”  As it turns out Hayek wasn’t the first choice for the role of Everly.  Lynch and Hannon originally had a slightly different vision for the character.  “Originally the character was younger and was a heroin addict.  At one point we had Kate Hudson and shot a promo with her.  She was running around, shooting up the place–Kate Hudson with a gun–definitely have not seen that before!” However, that didn’t pan out and Hayek was eventually cast for her tenacity and love for the character.

On a slightly different subject, I asked Lynch about his Fantastic Fest experience this year. The thing about this particular festival is that filmmakers and other talent seem to have such a great time while in attendance.  In addition to promoting his film, Lynch participated in the event known as the Fantastic Debates.  This annual event features both verbal sparring on a particular subject, followed by a boxing match between the same two opponents.  Lynch faced off with film editor and actor Josh Ethier.  Lynch spoke of his participation in this event with much pride, “How many filmmakers out there can–I don’t know if they can boast–but how many can say that they had their world premiere and ninety minutes later be in a (expletive) boxing ring? That doesn’t happen very often!”  Well, it does happen at least once a year at a beloved festival known as Fantastic Fest. I must extend a special thanks to Joe Lynch for his time and I must encourage folks to check out his badass film Everly.



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