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Bigger But Not Necessarily Better
on November 8, 2013
*Contains Minor Spoilers *
An exhausting, loud and pointless remake (or sequel) that may succeed in grossing you out, but that, along with some decent performances, and high production values, are not enough to outdo the original 1981 film which had style, wit and imagination. The story is basically the same as Raimi's original and "Evil Dead 2: Dead by Dawn", a group of people, staying in a very creepy looking cabin (I mean really? They couldn't find a far more attractive option than this crumbling, disgusting disaster-piece in the woods for a getaway?) where they plan to help their troubled, vulnerable friend Mia (Jane Levy), overcome her very bad drug addiction and hopefully to mend her relationship with her estranged, stiff, boring brother, David (Shiloh Fernandez). Again, bad location choice. If I wanted to help someone in their addiction and want to cheer them up, this sinister, decayed, stench-infested, crumbling, nasty cabin in the middle of nowhere is the last place I would take them to. Rant over, moving on. They soon discover a funky stain on the floor boards which looks like dried blood (hint- to get the heck out of there) that leads them to the basement where hundreds of rotting animal carcasses hang from the ceiling (another hint- to get the heck out of there) and a mysterious book covered in a black plastic bag and wrapped in barbed wires (another hint- to get the heck out of there and to not open this freakin' book) is found. The group nerd, Eric (Lou Taylor Pucci), despite various warnings scribbled within the pages of the book, like "LEAVE THIS BOOK ALONE", foolishly recites some of the incoherent words written within out loud, in doing so, awakens a monstrous, blood-thirsty demon that soon wreaks havoc amongst them.
There are many things that frustrate me about this film. Yes, it had a fairly decent budget, $17 million, unlike the original movie which was made using loose change, so the production values, the special effects, the make-up effects, cinematography are all up to standard, maybe above average for the genre. Yes, it does move along at a very brisk pace and the overall tone, is dark, very dark, perhaps too dark. "Evil Dead" (2013) makes its point abundantly clear within the first 30 minutes - it is a dark tale of horror with no room for humor, or wit, or substance. If you want some laughs or enduring characters, go look somewhere else. Now, normally, I would not have a problem with this as sometimes I like my horror movies to be served cold and dark, but in this case, this is supposed to be a remake (or sequel, still confused as to what this is really) of "Evil Dead" and that film had plenty of quirky humor and characters and despite being a very low budget production, excelled in being witty, creative (some of the make-up effects were good, although not all since some of the actors wore some crazy wigs that looked incredibly cheesy) and had stylish direction. Yes, when viewed today, it is very, very dated and it suffers from its very low budget and primitive effects work. For instance, the clay-mation effects were not very successful. Yes, the character Ash (Bruce Campbell) was not as memorable in the first film (although nowhere near as forgettable as the characters in this film, more on this later) as he was in the 1987 sequel, which was really a remake with a better budget, where he gave an incredible physical performance and is the highlight of "Dead by Dawn". But both films had more to offer than the bloodshed. Both movies threw buckets of blood and ooze all over the place, the walls, the floors, the actor's faces etc and there was dismemberment galore but kept it tongue and cheek. That combined with the stylish direction and overall outrageousness kept you repulsed and amused at the same time.
This remake (or sequel), goes straight for the jugular and does not have a funny bone in its body. The characters are also lack-luster despite the overtly dramatic back story two of the characters are given. They are throwaway, unmemorable, bland characters. Despite some generally good performances, Levy is especially good, it is not enough, you end up rooting for no-one, and in the end, you are just left looking at boring people doing incredibly stupid things in a very clichéd horror film. The dialogue is also a bit forced. It is pretty much established within the first 10 minutes who each individual is thanks to this in your face, forced dialogue, the recovering addict- check, the estranged brother and friend- check, the girlfriend- check, the nurse and concerned friend - check, the geek- check. Which brings us to the star attraction, if it isn't the actors, the location, the direction, I guess you can state that the star of this freak show is the repulsive gore and the never-ending violence. It is excessive and admittedly, it doesn't give you a chance to catch your breath. There are far too many scenes of self mutilation and gore to the point that this film ends up being nothing more than torture porn. For those that love this stuff, you should not be disappointed but despite being a horror film fan, I have been one for the last 3 decades, I have come to the point where I do expect more from certain horror films. Considering the original film and the original sequel (and remake) offered more than just the gore, I was expecting the same of this remake. Was this too much to ask for? Despite a different set of characters and upgraded special effects, there is nothing new here, this has already been done twice before in the series and it was done better and without the humor, it falls a bit flat. You will just sit there waiting for the next gory set-piece and nothing more. There is no originality, no sense of humor, no memorable characters, no creative camera tricks and angles. It is glossier but uninspired. Aside from plenty of gore, there is not much here to recommend it, again, unless you just love torture porn, then this is right up your alley.
Overall, "Evil Dead" (2013) is pretty solid from a technical standpoint but that does not mean it is a great film. The makers of this entry did not have the budget restraints and obstacles of the original, boasting high production values and this shows in the final production. It delivers in being outlandish and gory but it is a disappointment since gory does not always equal scary and I was expecting much more from this. Apparently there will be a sequel and I can already see the premise. Let me see, another group of people in the same old creepy cabin in the same old creepy woods, who find the same old creepy book, and some-one foolishly recites the same old creepy incantations, resurrecting the same old creepy forces, some people will get possessed and much violence and gore will ensue. The End.
I hope they prove me wrong.
2.5 out of 5