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Evil Dead (2013)

| April 10, 2013 | 0 Comments

It takes a lot of nerve to advertise a horror movie as “The Most Terrifying Film You Will Ever See.”  In this cynical, movie-drenched culture, when we often complain that there is nothing new under the sun, a line like that makes us walk into the theater thinking: “Okay . . . well . . . I’ll be the judge of that.”

That is, in fact, how Fede Alvarez’s remake of Sam Raimi’s 1981 cult classic “Evil Dead” comes advertised.  The line is especially bold (not to mention foolish) since this movie turns out to be nothing more than your standard, garden-variety, run of the mill, cabin in the woods movie with five strangers holed up in a dilapidated shack while something from the netherworld picks them off one by one.  The story is best known from Sam Raimi who created the genre of Gonzo Horror back in the early 80s with “The Evil Dead” an over-the-top horror epic that made perfect use of exaggerated camera angles, bizarro ghouls and a soundtrack that seemed made up of weird animal noises and the constant bonging of a rather unnerving wall clock.  It wasn’t the greatest movie in the world but at least you could say that you hadn’t seen anything like it before.  Raimi genius was that he presented it with style rather than substance.  He knew what he had.  How much substance can you bring to a movie in which a woman vomits buckets of blood while another is raped by a tree?  He knew what he was working with.

This is not the case with the remake.  There’s nothing new here.  Countless films have come along since Raimi’s film featuring a handful of young people travelling to a cabin in the woods to be picked off one by one until the very idea has become a joke all by itself.  Where Raimi’s film benefitted from a low budget, this one doesn’t have that excuse.  It’s slick, good looking; it has lots of special effects, but it is so bland that you find yourself attempting to identify the movie that is booming in the theater next door.  You know everything that is about to happen in this film.  Raimi’s film also benefitted from a wicked sense of humor.  This remake has no laughs save for a few that are unintentional.

The story is nothing to write home about.  Five kids travel to a cabin in the woods so a sad girl called Mia can detox from an addiction to opiates.  As the film opens we learn that, years earlier, a possessed girl was burned alive in this cabin and her angry spirit still resides, possessing those who inhabit it.  When the kids arrive, the angry spirit is triggered when a brainy hunk called Eric reads from a book bound in human flesh and written in human blood – this despite a desperate scrawls on the pages not to read the text (he even takes notes!).  He reads the book anyway until all manner of special effects Hell breaks loose.  What happens for the next hour and half is just blood and mayhem without logic or purpose.

In order for a movie like this to work, we have to have some investment in the characters.  The best supernatural horror films like “The Exorcist”, “The Shining”, “Carrie” and “Poltergeist”, have all benefitted from having characters so close to reality that when the supernatural happens, the realism and the unreality balance out.  This “Evil Dead” remake has none of that.  The characters are all stock; the hunk, the brain, the babe, and the damaged girl whose personal and familial history are a horror show all their own.  These characters never come off the screen.  They are what they are: Fodder for the mill.  They do dumb things and then get chewed up until one is left standing.

It might actually be easier to forgive (or forget) this needless remake of “Evil Dead” were it not for recent film from last year that all but rendered movies like this obsolete.  It was called “The Cabin in the Woods,” a movie that takes this same premise and literally breaks open the entire horror genre until all the classic clichés come spilling out into one glorious and entertaining orgy of blood and guts.  That film was one of the best of 2012, and someday may take its place in the cult horror wonderland right up there with Sam Raimi’s original “The Evil Dead.”  This remake is headed where it belongs, right into the dustbins of history.  The Most Terrifying Film You Will Ever Experience?  Not on your life.

About the Author:

Jerry Roberts is a film critic and operator of two websites, Armchair Cinema and Armchair Oscars.
(2013) View IMDB Filed in: Horror