Evil Dead 2013

Evil-dead 13Director: Fede Alvarez
Writers: Fede Alvarez (screenplay), Rodo Sayagues (screenplay),

Jane Levy … Mia
Shiloh Fernandez … David
Lou Taylor Pucci … Eric
Jessica Lucas … Olivia
Elizabeth Blackmore … NatalieEvil Dead
Evil Dead
C–

Gore can be one of the most terrifying and effective tools in a filmmaker’s tool box. When a man’s head is blown to smithereens in the back of a car in Tarantino’s masterful Pulp Fiction, you feel terrified and amused. In Silence of the Lambs, when Anthony Hopkins drops from above wearing another man’s face, you heart races three times faster. But the thing is, gore is used to shock. It works well in those situations because they are not the movie; they are just a piece in a vast assemblage of pieces.
This film doesn’t seem to understand that Evil Dead is gore. This is a remake of a movie an ‘80’s movie by Sam Raimi (the Spiderman trilogy, Oz: The Great and Powerful) I’ve never seen but I’m told was a little sillier, but overall, very similar. The story is simple enough. Mia (Jane Levy), a young girl who has a drug problem goes with three of her friends, Natalie (Elizabeth Blackmore), Eric (Lou Taylor Pucci), and Olivia (Jessica Lucas), who is Eric’s boyfriend. However, the main protagonist is David (Shiloh Fernandez) who is Mia’s sister. The siblings have some emotional problems concerning David’s absence during her mother’s death, but it quickly goes nowhere. The important thing here is that any attempt that Mia makes to leave the cabin is written off as an attempt to avoid the makeshift rehab created by her companions.
The story takes off though when everybody begins to notice a smell emanating from the basement. The smell is that of dead cats used in a voodoo flashback at the film’s outset. There, Eric finds a book covered in barbed wire, which he proceeds to open. Everyone is supposed to think “Don’t do it,” but the overly-extreme covering is enough to yell that even if it wasn’t a horror movie. It’s stupid. Then, of course, a spirit is awakened and they can only kill it in three different ways and we see the signs and it infects Mia, but everyone thinks she’s just rebelling against rehab. The whole rehab idea is easily the best thing in this movie. That and the ways to kill the spirit, which they certainly stole and which should have been in a Harry Potter film, not this.
Then, it gets weird. Not the story. The things. The spirit goes into her, not only through her mouth, but also takes an alternative route, leaving Mia, quite literally, raped by a shrub. At the climax of the film, it rains blood. I mean that. Raining blood is practically part of the weather forecast. Throughout the film, character cuts their arms off with an electric knifes, get nails shot through them in 50 different places, cut the face off with shards of glass, pull their arms so hard it rips off, cut their tongues in half, and a catalog of other things, and proceed to be in only mild pain. Literally, Eric gets stabbed in the heart and doesn’t even lie down. It’s excessive. Not only is it excessive because acts like that make up the rest of the plot, but also because Mia is possessed and one of the characters dies off pretty quickly, which means its practically just an hour of three people getting severely injured. It’s quicker to die of natural causes than by a ghost in this story.
I was scared in the theater, not having an incredibly high tolerance for slasher-films like this (save John Carpenter’s excellent Halloween), but it was an artificial fear. In Guillermo Del Toro’s masterpiece, Pan’s Labyrinth, I feel for Ophelia (our young protagonist) and her mother and the Mercedes (the maid) and the doctor and even two guys hunting squirrels, so when bad things happen, I worry for the characters that I am utterly attached to. I screamed out in that film as if I might have some impact during the stunning mandrake root sequence. In Evil Dead though, I wasn’t scared for anybody. I was just worried I wouldn’t have to see another arm being cut off (this wasn’t 127 Hours). Furthermore, Pan’s Labyrinth was a stroke of genius; this is just a stroke, something the characters probably experienced twenty-seven times over the course of day. The gore this film uses can be one of the most effective ways of shocking an audience, but only if you use it sparsely enough to change the viewer’s preconceived notions. It’s an accent piece, not a story.
Don’t waste your time with this movie. If you want to see gore, go rent Resevoir Dogs; if you want horror, look into Silence of the Lambs, Rosemary’s Baby, The Exorsist, or Halloween – even The Blair Witch Project and the Paranormal Activity trilogy make this movie look like a desperate attempt to scare. The scariest thing here is the fact that this did well in the box office.

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