Evil Dead

Evil-Dead

I felt a bit bad for this movie. A remake of a classic horror film has expectations that are hard enough to meet. But for a remake of a classic horror film to come out a year after a satirical genre-bending horror film that relentlessly critiques and eviscerates the very premise that this film is based on, and in a manner more entertaining than a straightforward shocker? That’s tough.

Evil Dead is a passable effort. It’s got everything you could want out of a film in this franchise (are remakes considered part of the same franchise?) – lots of blood, gore, and disgusting possessions. It also puts a bit of a nice spin on the original’s story line – rather than 5 friends going to a secluded cabin for a vacation, these pals are going to help one of their friends kick a heroin addiction cold turkey over a weekend. Of course, the recovering addict is the only one to realize that things in the woods aren’t as they seem, but the rest of the group dismiss these observations as the feverish ramblings of withdrawal. Of course, that’s about the entire story in a nutshell. Horror movies have never been known for their deep plotting.

The biggest issue I had with Evil Dead is it feels long. A horror movie, especially one that is only 93 minutes, should never drag. The movie generally has a good pace by having scene after scene of increasingly bloody encounters, but the climax of the film takes a pause during all the stabbing and soul-snatching for some character development. There’s a live burial scene in the movie, and rather than being a horrifying moment, it’s boring. I couldn’t wait until the character was buried alive – because it was taking so long for the character to actually be buried alive – that it totally halts the momentum the film has been gaining up to that point. Everything after this point – probably the next 10 minutes of the movie – just felt extraneous. It’s too bad.

Otherwise, the film does some commendable things – especially the choice to use traditional special effects rather than CGI. Splatter flicks don’t do well with computerized blood effects. There’s nothing like the good ol’ mixture of corn syrup, red food colouring, and oatmeal to evoke reactions of disgust. Definitely something I’d like to see contemporary horror films return to.

Evil Dead is about what you’d expect – blood, guts, and gore. It replicates most of the beats of the original while giving them a fresh spin, but the whole film feels a bit outdated after The Cabin in the Woods and makes the peculiar decision to devote its climax to a character moment rather than a splatter-fest.

Worth seeing if you’re a fan of the genre or franchise, but only just.

Grade: C+

Sidenote: There are also two instances of “best friend ex machina” that are frustrating – especially since the best friend is an almost indestructible “Terminator”-type who can still beat up demons after being stabbed multiple times with a hypodermic needle, beaten with a crow-bar, shot at with a nail-gun, and slashed with an exacto-knife. It’s a bit much.

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