Far and few in between, there are films worth shrouding in secrecy – but contestably not an Evil Dead remake. Everbody knows the drill by now – a bunch of horror-movie stereotypes go to the cabin in the woods and all end up getting hacked off by all sorts of sharp shed tools except for one who lives to tell the tale. There are probably about five people in the planet who don’t know the story, which is why I don’t understand when the security check in the screening I went to was tighter than an airport. That said, there isn’t really much new introduced to the genre, apart from the fact that it’s a remake of the 1981 Sam Raimi cult classic which went down in horror filmmaking history as a blueprint to numerous there’s-something-in-the-woods rip-offs, from mainstream Hollywood schlocks to arthouse brooders, all with varying degrees of successes and failures. Even Lars von Trier attempted to re-imagine the concept in his nihilistic Antichrist. So take this review from the perspective of someone who enjoyed Raimi’s classic and loved Antichrist.
I’m no stranger to blood and guts and gore – but this Evil Dead remake isn’t really the ‘most terrifying film you will ever experience’ (a peremptorily audacious piece of marketing in the film poster) in terms of genuine scare, but terrifying in the sheer amount of blood being splashed around and the extreme levels of gore, as if 80-percent of the budget was specifically allocated to furnish extra limbs and gooey blood enough to fill an Olympic-sized swimming pool. It’s worth noting that the most gruesome scenes in the film are exceptionally done, making use of the practical effects that almost mirror the original’s fundamental moviemaking. Debut director Fede Alvarez lashes it all with none of Raimi’s vintage charm and biting wit, and instead considers the proceedings with almost fatal seriousness, lacerated with bad dialogue delivered by rote, uninvolving cookie-cutter characters.
It also doesn’t help that since this is being remade in 2013, the makers have forgotten to update the characters’ glaring lack of gumption. If you find something down the basement of a cabin in the middle of fucking nowhere, tightly clasped with barbed wire, chances are, you wouldn’t touch it. And anybody with a standard human logic wouldn’t dare to read out loud a passage from a human-skin-bound book which claims (in red ink and BOLD CAPITALS) to NOT READ in the first place (I’m sure hardcore horror geeks would argue if the character did otherwise, there’ll be no plot whatsoever). So all hell break loose just because a nincompoop carried on flipping through the pages, solving the puzzle like a game of Bookworm. Of course it’s preposterous. It’s a horror movie, and people need to behave stupidly in order for things to happen. But once you get through the sheer buggery of plot and a terribly written script, a spectacle of demonic insanity unfolds over its later half. There are a couple of moments when Evil Dead becomes genuinely alarming – one is a Takashi Miike’s Audition-inspired sequence in a bathroom involving a syringe needle and the other is a climax that splatters an intensely good, balls-to-the-wall gore factor. The last 15-minutes or so delivers spectacularly well the dizzying, heart-pumping beat of a good horror movie – which has sadly gone AWOL prior to the final showdown.[separator type=”space”] DIRECTOR: Fede Alvarez | CAST: Jane Levy, Shiloh Fernandez, Jessica Lucas | SCREENPLAY: Fede Alvarez, Diablo Cody | PRODUCER: FilmDistrict/Ghost House Pictures | RUNNING-TIME: 91 mins | GENRE: Horror | COUNTRY: USA