Evil Dead Movie Review
So we get to enjoy yet another remake of a classic and memorable picture.
A remake of the cult hit by Sam Raimi, Evil Dead follows five young fellows who go to a cabin in the woods to deal with their personal issues. Those issues quickly multiply when they come across a flesh bound book of magic that summons demons to possess and kill them one by one.
Remember that the original was from the golden years of Bruce Campbell and was one of those 'so bad it's good' films that didn't even attempt to take itself seriously. To compare this with its remake is rather unfair since the new film not only takes itself very seriously, it manages to do so successfully.
I've made mention in previous reviews how when a simple film overburdens itself with plot and suffers for it. That is an objection that cannot be levelled here. The plot lasts only long enough to explain why these people are here and why they ignore warning signs until it's too late. After that it's just brutal and disturbing deaths and loads of screaming.
The new Evil Dead is a thoroughly enjoyable romp through the land of body parts and the more tender sections of the human form. Eyeballs, skin, genital, limbs, and so on are all up for grabs in gory and disturbing mutilation, flensing, sawing, shooting and stabbing. It's actually quite impressive how many useful killing instruments you will find in an abandoned cabin.
So where does the film misstep? Well, it's not actually scary, just disturbing. We've come to equate the two feelings and that simply isn't correct in my opinion. Horror is meant to frighten and that is not what this film does. You need only look at which video games are truly frightening in order to understand what I mean here. Silent Hill 2 was a fantastically scary game not because of its brutality or waves of enemies, but because of just the opposite. The game's stellar atmosphere left you so horribly alone and paranoid you truly dreaded seeing any figures in the mist. Slender is much the same. The actual scares aren't nearly as powerful as the sense of utter isolation and the creeping feeling of being hunted. While it has a fair bit of jump scares within it, Evil Dead primarily relies on making you feel so uncomfortable your internal organs squirm rather than invoking a sense of fear. Silent House was a scary movie, this is a disturbing one.
I could go on about the fantastic stupidity of reading aloud from a book that was bound in barb wire and has warnings not to read scrawled on literally every page. Or even the wonderful bits where the further you go into the book the more you see of what's to come. The application of logic quickly leads to the solution of flipping through the book to know what's coming next and finally how to stop it all. But that's not the point of the film.
The characters all come off as very archetypical and not one of them is particularly likeable. You don't even get to have the fun 'slasher group' that's usually worth a few cheap laughs. Again, that's not the point of the film.
The point of the film is to disturb you. It's about being brutal and having an amazing sound design. One of the best portions of the film for me wasn't the gory mess made of a character but one of them asking if a friend was okay and slowly approaching them while all you head is the sound of a blade cutting through meat and bone growing ever louder. Again, it's not frightening, it's stomach turning and it does the job magnificently.
It may not be the cult hit its predecessor was, but the new Evil Dead is a deeply enjoyable film that only tries to do one job well and exceeds expectations doing so. Sadly this is also what brings the film down (along with a totally unecessary twist towards the end) since the film is all flash and no substance. It's suitibly chilling, but not lasting since there is no sense of connection between the characters on screen and the audience watching.
Again, to its credit, Evil Dead does its flash very well with awesome makeup and a refusal to shy away from the violence it showcases. I've seen plenty of burn effects in film and television but I've never had the pleasure of watching skin split into a third degree burn boil as hot water pours over a victim. Nor have I ever seen anyone get possessed quite the way Mia is.