Evil Dead

The new EVIL DEAD relies heavily on multiple references to the original without so much as exploring creative individuality.

If a movie tagline is anything to go by, then Evil Dead the remake should be “the most terrifying film you will experience”; or so the makers would have you believe. But depending on what makes your skin crawl, this tagline is either true to the word or entirely misleading.

Void of time and place, an unceremonious prologue tells us that evil exists in and around a desolate cabin in some Godforsaken part of the woods. The cabin is almost rundown but serves as the perfect spot for Mia (Jane Levy) to go cold turkey on her heroin addiction. Aiding Mia’s detox is her brother (Shiloh Fernandez), and their friends Olivia (Jessica Lucas), Natalie (Elizabeth Blackmore) and Eric (Lou Taylor Pucci). Mia and David have a strained relationship that is never fully explained, but an unseen bond between the siblings becomes apparent as the story progresses. This of course is merely a distracting subplot because Eric, meanwhile, has discovered a book known as the Necronomicon, or ‘Book of the dead’. And before they realize what the book holds within, all hell breaks loose.

For a horror movie remade more than thirty years after the original, visual effects are impressive but rarely do these effects induce the fear or terror that is promised. To begin with, the atmosphere is never chilling or ominous even as demonic possessions start to become the mainstay in the plot. In comparing to the 1981 original, debutant feature director Fede Alvarez has made a competent horror flick that is just a few notches above the schlock-o-meter. The premise and the fight for survival remains faithfully true to Sam Raimi’s original, with multiple throwbacks to The Evil Dead franchise. Even as homage, this remake could sit fairly well with horror fans relentless with an appetite for blood and gore. On that note, violence is of an extreme nature and Alvarez’s camerawork is very unforgiving during the many slicing and dicing, and slashing and stabbing scenes. Even if you choose to close your eyes, you cannot escape the sound of tearing flesh or many of the other forms of bodily mutilation and dismemberment. In keeping with the exploitation theme of 70s and 80s low-budget horror flicks, Alvarez stays on course and then goes all out for the blood soaked finale. This final showdown benefits from some originality, particularly when good and evil switches positions. But up until this point the suspense and fright factor is pretty much an assembly line production consistent with standard Hollywood pop culture.

Ultimately, the new Evil Dead relies heavily on multiple references to the original without so much as exploring creative individuality. That being said, Alvarez and the screenwriters have opted for maximum gorefest instead of working towards really terrorizing the audience. Characters are unremarkable and you don’t really bother who lives or dies. Fernandez’s David is particularly annoying as an idiotically gullible protagonist. Levy’s Mia has one or two good scenes before becoming possessed but remaining cast members have little or nothing to work with except gallons of cinema-grade corn syrup. Potentially, this film had all the wicked ingredients of a perfect remake. If only the makers (including Sam Raimi as the producer) had focused on personifying evil with some sort of tangibility, this film would have easily rubbed decaying shoulders with the likes of The Exorcist or The Shining. Eventually, what you get is evil dead on arrival. And by this I am also referring to the fact that I slept like a baby.

Rating: ★★½☆☆

About Lloyd Bayer

Besides his passion for travelling, photography and scuba diving, Lloyd is a prolific film critic having contributed hundreds of film reviews to web and print journals, including IMDb and local daily Khaleej Times.