The Daily Gamecock

‘Evil Dead’ prefers gore over scares

Jane Levy in TriStar Pictures' horror, "Evil Dead." (Kirsty Girffin/Courtesy TriStar Pictures/MCT)
Jane Levy in TriStar Pictures' horror, "Evil Dead." (Kirsty Girffin/Courtesy TriStar Pictures/MCT)

Bloody horror remake lacks fun factors from original film

It’s completely tempting to look at “Evil Dead,” a remake of the 1981 horror film of the same name, as another pointless remake. And who can be blamed for doing so? So many horror remakes from “Friday the 13th” (1980) to “A Nightmare on Elm Street” (1984) have found their way to the silver screen for no reason.

Well, there is a reason, and its name contains only two words: box office.

“Evil Dead” is no exception. Like every remake before it, the only scary thing about it is that it’s not scary enough. Plenty of eye-cringing material abounds, but there’s a huge difference between scary and eye-cringing.

“Evil Dead” is just another generic horror film that reuses the same elements, from stupid people doing stupid things to the secluded house in the middle of nowhere. The only notable feature is that it may be the most blood-soaked movie to push the MPAA boundaries. This horror movie doesn’t feature gore; it revels in it.

The movie begins with the overused “cabin in the woods” setting. A major difference here, however, is that these college-aged adults aren’t vacationing in the middle of nowhere. David (Shiloh Fernandez), along with girlfriend Natalie (Elizabeth Blackmore) and friends Eric (Lou Taylor Pucci) and Olivia (Jessica Lucas), returns to his family’s abandoned cabin to help his sister Mia (Jane Levy) kick her heroin addiction.

All of the young actors do a fine job channeling terror into their characters, but it doesn’t help that they’re playing such one-dimensional idiots worthy of their own demise. Eric, the one who looks like he’s president of the Kurt Cobain fan club, is probably the worst of the lot, reading an evil incantation from a book that literally reads “LEAVE THIS BOOK ALONE” in an act of overt stupidity, thereby causing everything to go to hell.

Once this happens, enter the she-demon from hell who possesses Mia and makes her look like Linda Blair from “The Exorcist” (1973). Mia tries to warn everyone of what’s going on with her, but they think she’s just begging for some smack since she’s going through withdrawal. Thus, Mia becomes fully possessed and tells everyone they’re going to die.

Then enters the creepy music, cheap scares and the she-demon slowly offing everyone in the in the sickest, most vomit-inducing ways possible. We’re talking nail guns penetrating flesh and bone and bloody-arm amputating gory, all done in excruciating detail.

As said, the characters are easily the weakest aspect of the film. These college-aged kids have absolutely no redeemable factors and never earn our sympathy. Heck, they don’t even seem to like each other.

On a short note, the ending is also a damaging factor in this thinly plotted movie. It’s completely confusing and contradictory.

Certain aspects from the original “Evil Dead” series exist within the remake, especially the shaky camera and the chainsaw, but this is all basic homage toward the director of the original, Sam Raimi.

Director and screenwriter Fede Alvarez doesn’t waste as much time scaring the wits out of viewers as amping the gore factor to 11. The entire movie plays out like the kids are visiting Jigsaw’s (the torture guy from the “Saw” series) vacation home. If you’ve ever wondered what it’d be like to see a chainsaw stuck down someone’s mouth or a tree vine raping a girl, then this movie has the answers to your questions.

The very aspect that made Sam Raimi’s original “Evil Dead” series so inspirational to a generation of horror was his ability to truly capture that sense of the dead. Here, all of that is regulated into the background in favor of “torture porn” and horrific elements of demonic possession. This is just my opinion, but anyone calling the
“Evil Dead” remake “the scariest movie ever made” clearly doesn’t know “scary.”

What will probably disappoint fans of the original the most about this remake is that the wicked humor has been almost completely subsided, save for a few funny one-liners. Bruce Campbell, who played the star character Ash Williams from the original series, does make a small cameo and say his iconic line, “Groovy,” but seeing that would actually require viewers to sit through the entire film.

I’m not trying to compare this “Evil Dead” to the original since Alverez has made enough changes to make this movie his own. But if his intent was to capture that same gore that made the original a game-changer in the horror world, he failed miserably.

Or maybe the reason why this remake isn’t as scary as it should be lies within these 30 years of gut-grinding horror, from the tiresome “Saw” sequels to countless horror remakes. Some of the best horror films ever made have that “shock” factor that keeps us up at night and feature original storytelling. “Evil Dead” has none of these things.

Even though it’s 100 times bloodier (its original rating was NC-17), the ratings board apparently wasn’t impressed enough to avoid the R rating. It’s not entirely a bad horror film since some blood-curdling scenes that stick with you. But like so many horror remakes before it, the focus just isn’t where it should be.


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