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Film review: 'Evil Dead' resurrection lacks life

April 08, 2013|By BOB GARVER | Special to The Herald-Mail
  • This film image released by Sony-TriStar Pictures shows Jane Levy in a scene from "Evil Dead." (AP Photo/Sony-TriStar Pictures)
Uncredited / AP

The ads for "Evil Dead" claim that the film is the scariest you will ever see. This is untrue unless you almost never see horror movies, in which case why would you want to see a movie called "Evil Dead"? The ads also claim that the film is the bloodiest you'll ever see. There is some truth to this. The film might not be scary or funny or interesting, but in terms of straight-up blood quantity I think we have a champion.

The characters are a group of twentysomethings who are staying at an isolated cabin while one of them tries to kick a drug habit. Her name is Mia (Jane Levy) and her well-meaning friends are determined to keep her there until she's clean. These friends include a bossy nurse (Jessica Lucas), a pessimistic teacher (Lou Taylor Pucci, who also starts in "The Story of Luke" this weekend at the Maryland International Film Festival-Hagerstown), her ever-absent brother (Shiloh Fernandez), and his warm body of a girlfriend (Elizabeth Blackmore).

They want her to be calm, so they take her to a creepy cabin in the middle of the creepy woods, which I imagine is a long way from anything not creepy. I'm not convinced that the seclusion of the cabin is worth the triple-creepy environment. People have died in this cabin and if you don't leave now the next victim could be you.

Things start to go awry when the teacher finds a book wrapped in barbed wire. This turns out to be a book of dark magic that nobody should ever read, especially not out loud, and especially not in Latin. The teacher does all three and unleashes an evil spirit into the vicinity. The spirit chooses to possess Mia, turning her sick and evil. Oh, and homicidal. The others attribute this behavior to Mia going through withdrawal. That theory goes out the window when acts of violence occur while Mia is locked in the creepy basement. It only takes the group about an hour to realize that Mia is possessed, something we knew from the minute it happened. Of course now they have to protect themselves while trying to figure out a way to save Mia.

The film is essentially divided into two parts. The first is the "Jump" portion, where all the scares come from the film trying to startle you. Often these are red herrings (like maybe a friendly character will pop into frame when you weren't expecting them), but they nonetheless make you jump out of your seat and then sit down sheepishly. I suppose these scares are passable, but you can find similar ones in just about any horror movie.

The second part of the movie is the "Gore" portion, where the film just tries to be as disgusting as it can with its blood and violence. A lot of the violence involves power tools. I find it strange that a demon knows how to wield these instruments, but even weirder that it knows all sorts of contemporary obscenities to antagonize the humans. The victims are resilient, and on more than one occasion you'll wonder what it will take to finish them off after gruesome injuries. For the conclusion of the film, everything is drenched in blood. It's hard not to imagine that the filmmakers somehow got a discount on fake blood by buying it in bulk from an oil tanker.

I've never seen the 1981 version of "Evil Dead" all the way through, so I can't say for sure how faithful this remake is to the original, but I've seen years of ripoffs. That's what this new film is —- a ripoff. The most positive thing I can say about it is that it comes up with some creative methods of violence if you find that sort of thing interesting. Seriously, the film is counting on you finding it interesting. It has nothing else to offer.



One and Half Stars out of Five



"Evil Dead" is rated R for strong bloody violence and gore, some sexual content and language. Its running time is 91 minutes.



Contact Bob Garver at rrg251@nyu.edu.






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