Evil, a supernatural procedural series developed by Robert and Michelle Kings, has long been one of the most terrifying shows on television and streaming (it first premiered on CBS before moving to its current home on Paramount+), as well as one of the most profoundly philosophical.
The two main themes are unquestionably linked, as questions about faith, reason, and whether evil comes from outside of us or inside are explored in stories depicting monsters both paranormal and human. A creative palette and a bold composition have made Evil one of the most popular and haunting series on television.
The vertical nature of the effects that sets Evil apart from the other shows is how Murphy and Hlinomaz exploit the top and bottom of the image in a manner similar to Night of the Hunter and Ida, two of the series' main influences.
Murphy told IndieWire that there is a fair amount of room at the top of the frame that fits in with the spiritual theme. The idea is that we are always looking up, that there is something above us. The director of Ida put it this way.
The space above the characters isnt just for the angels, however; theres often a sense that what is unknown and lurking in the shadows is a threat rather than a comfort, with the abstraction of the images forming a sense of mystery that plays out the characters doubts and anxieties.
The characters in Evil often have a difficult time determining what is actually happening and what is imagined, and the audience is invited to confess their tenuous grasp on reality through an impeccably modulated visual style that runs a fine line between realism and the supernatural.
Something always feels off in ordinary everyday situations, while the most outrageous scenes involving demons have some basis in reality.
Murphy and Hlinomaz's lens philosophy is mostly responsible for the unique sensations the program creates for the viewer.
Murphy explains that we prefer to shoot extremely wide lenses. Petr and I immediately apply a 12 or a 15mm lens when we have time. When it is not a wide-angle lens its a relatively long lens. Were either shooting around a 15mm or 100mm to 135mm, not much in between.
The majority of scenes are shot wide, which results in disturbing distortion effects while also creating a dynamic sense of space in which the viewer becomes aware of how much evil can conceal.
Hlinomaz told IndieWire that light is much harder to find because you have so much room to work in. If you're on a 75mm 15 feet away you see so little of the set that you can put light anywhere, but if you're on an 18mm wide and close you see a lot of the set.
Evil's sharp, sharp look is partly due to filmtographers' preference for prime lenses over zooms, which are, according to Murphy, of many benefits.
We have a zoom, but we rarely use it, according to the speaker. Primes are better, but they also require you to think about what you're doing and why. It forces you to consider how much space you're attempting to create.