Evil Dead (2013)

9 Apr

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Smith’s Verdict: *1/2

Reviewed by Tanner Smith

Gore is not scary. Blood, slime, pus, etc. alone do not make a film automatically scary; if anything, it just makes it disgusting. Tension, suspense, atmosphere, etc. are the key ingredients to a successful horror film. I wouldn’t mind gore so much if the movies that go all out with them were either scary or even funny. The reason Peter Jackson’s “Dead Alive” (probably the goriest film ever, as far as I’m concerned) worked was because while it had all types of gore, it had a twisted sense of humor to back it up. (Whether or not that movie is for you just depends on your stomach. But I digress.) And of course, there are Sam Raimi’s “Evil Dead” movies. Same thing—with a lot of gore, there was also a lot of dark humor. Who doesn’t remember the possessed hand? Or Bruce Campbell’s one-liners?

The “Evil Dead” movies are a good time to be had, particularly the second one which I like a whole lot. Knowing that Sam Raimi and Bruce Campbell were on board as producers for a remake of the first film, I was hyped to see this new version, aptly titled “Evil Dead.”

But as it turns out, “Evil Dead” turned out to be nothing more than a generic, pointless splatter film that is nothing more than a gorefest. Sure, there may be a lot of gore (and they do use practical effects for all the blood and gore), but that’s just it. That’s all there is to it—this “Evil Dead” is neither scary nor funny. It’s just boring.

Even though the original film, “The Evil Dead,” was more serious than its sequel, “Evil Dead 2,” you still couldn’t necessarily take it seriously—the gore was over-the-top, the acting was cheesy, and there were unintentional funny moments (even though the second and third “Army of Darkness” film were intentionally humorous). And thanks to heavy craftsmanship (given its low budget), there were actually a few scary, atmospheric moments as well. The remake never captures any of that—it’s more morose and bloody than anything else. And it never even tries to be funny or creative.

The premise is the same as in the original—five young people go to an isolated cabin in the woods, they find a basement full of secrets and a certain “Book of the Dead,” and they accidentally unleash a demonic presence that possesses them all until they die. In “Evil Dead,” it begins as David (Shiloh Fernandez) and his girlfriend Natalie (Elizabeth Blackmore), along with registered nurse Olivia (Jessica Lucas) and bookish smartass Eric (Lou Taylor Pucci), stage an intervention for David’s younger sister Mia (Jane Levy), whose life has been screwed up by drugs thanks to a poor childhood. And here we have something I don’t think anybody was expecting to see in an “Evil Dead” movie—characterization. Too bad I don’t care much for who’s on screen—in particular, Natalie has no personality and just blends into the background half the time.

Anyway, in the dark, damp basement, they come across a room full of dead animals (mostly cats) and the Necronomicon itself, the “Book of the Dead” that contains evil spells. And wouldn’t you know it—Eric reads certain words from the book out loud, thus unleashing a fearsome demon.

OK, who would read something like that out loud in the first place?

But I digress. The five idiots are hunted by the demon, Mia is possessed by it, and is “infecting” everyone else. Why don’t these idiots just leave the cabin which is conveniently nowhere near other cabins? Well, because there’s a rainstorm that floods the only way out. How conveniently unfortunate.

With each horrific incident comes a lot of detailed gore—projectile vomiting, black goo, dismembered limbs, an arm cut off with an electric carver, nail guns shooting off at certain parts of flesh and bone, and lots and lots of blood. Director Fede Alvarez obviously cares more for gore than anything else, and to his credit, it all looks “right.” It’s all visibly, convincingly revolting.

The characters hardly gain any sympathy, so there’s hardly a reason for me to care about who lives and who dies (and who gets unbelievably hurt, in the case of Eric until he finally bites the dust).

“Evil Dead” is just conventional and generic junk that didn’t work for me in the slightest. In fact, I was surprised by just how many reviews pre-release stated that it was the “scariest movie ever made.” It just comes back to what I was saying in an above paragraph—gore is not scary. It’s shocking, it’s gross, it’s disgusting—but it’s not scary.

The only big pleasure I got out of “Evil Dead” was just after the end credits, which featured an unforgettable appearance by Bruce Campbell. I wish he had showed up earlier. His presence alone would have made things cooler. And you know you’re in trouble when the best shot in a movie is after the end credits.

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