Here we go, deja vu all over again. We are awash in remakes and as long they turn the tiniest of profit, the hacks in Hollywoodland will continue on and so it goes with the latest reiteration, “Evil Dead.” Hyperbolic much, why of course but it’s still a true. Evil Dead for all its newfangled bells and whistles, steps dangerously close to dulls-ville. I saw it one week ago and now it’s a vague memory. It failed to impress me past the usual checklist of what is supposed to impress me. It would be a lot easier to hate it if it was outright horrible and incompetent, but it’s not. It’s very well-made, acted and has one of the best horror scores, ever. I love the music most of all, but that’s just not enough.
I was never a huge fan of the Sam Raimi original, (Part 2 and 3 are it for me!) but I have always admired it. A very low budget, it made the best of very limited resources and proved to everyone large amounts of money is not needed to make a memorable film. That’s the problem with this current redo is that it’s all so forgettable- the worst sin any film can make.
That’s the problem with this latest glut of remakes, nearly all are so disposable, terrible and forgettable, (Total Recall anyone?) The world never asked for a terrible remake of the John Carpenter’s classic, “Halloween,” and the world does need the upcoming remake of “Poltergeist,” great films that need to be left alone. There are exceptions of course, “The Blob” is still one of the most underrated monster flicks ever made and 2004’s “Dawn of the Dead,” a fantastic zombie apocalypse whose only sin is that it should never have been called “Dawn of the Dead” as one automatically thinks of Romero’s masterpiece. It’s slim pickens for other horror remakes.
The frustrating part is Evil Dead is produced by the original trilogy bastards, Sam Raimi, star Bruce Campbell (Ash) and Robert G. Tapert. Another annoying aspect is that it’s constantly being reported as a remake and it’s NOT! The subtle title change, dropping THE and the fact that the characters are original creations and the main girl Mia, at one point sits on an old junk car in front of the cabin that happens to be Ash’s Oldsmobile from the originals. Call it homage, but why if it’s a remake are props from the original inserted to distract us, hmmm? It’s not a remake and I wish the coverage would stop stating it as so. Here, from the Director himself, Fede Alvarez he more or less puts the remake crap to rest…
“Now, the way I personally like to see Evil Dead (2013), it’s as a story that takes place 30 years after The Evil Dead ended. The car is there, the cabin is there (a family bought it and did some work on it more than 20 years ago) and the book has found its way back to the cabin… New kids will encounter it and suffer its wrath. Is Evil Dead a sequel then? Maybe, But the problem with the sequel theory would be that there are too many coincidences between the events on The Evil Dead and the ones on Evil Dead to have happened on a continuous story line…But if you believe the Naturom Demonto can force these things to happen… then it could be a sequel… and I do believe in coincidences.”
Finally, let’s put the REMAKE notion to bed. It’s NOT, different characters, motivations, situations. As I write this, I try to recall the movie and nothing…. I liked the setup- a young woman is headed “the cabin” for a few days to dry out- (far more interesting than the usual reasons of getting laid or high) detox from an addiction to Heroin bringing her best friends and brother along. Things go quickly south as they discover the Necronomicom (Book of the Dead) and the evil spirits are unleashed on the poor souls. The cast; Jane Levy as Mia, Shiloh Fernandez as David, Lou Taylor Pucci as Eric, Jessica Lucas as Olivia, Elizabeth Blackmore as Natalie, do what is expected of them and pull it off mostly, but there could not be a group of actors with less charisma. Especially the male lead, Shiloh Fernandez as David, a real zero, but then what do you except from a guy who’s favorite movie of all time is “That thing Called Love!” I thought I was only one that remembered that turd- Yeesh….
Levy is good as she puts herself through great disgusting trials to sell it and Pucci too for he probably gets the roughest treatment out of them all. Fine actors who try their best, and may very well go on to bigger things, but here, fail to etch a memorable mark. Beyond their trained abilities they are blank spaces. A problem with most films today, too many actors with zippo charisma. Which stumps me; because a movie called the EVIL DEAD should not have boring characters no one cares about. Unlike the original with Bruce Campbell as lunk-head Ash turned into demon hunter, we have…
Alvarez’s style is good, solid, no shaky-cam or crappy editing and he does a good job of aping Raimi’s original chaotic mood. The gore is plentiful, but not nearly as gross as I’d hope. Yes, unfortunately they DO use CGI to assist, I noticed it several times, the obvious point when the girl cut off her arm. There were others time, which probably allows it to not bother me, which is too bad. Half the fun with these movies is to make you sick.
I’m spoiled; I was raised on the horror films of the 70’s and 80’s, when the genre knew how to scare and thrill us while being creative and original. The most annoying aspect of the film and horror films today in general are the sameness to them all. They all look the same. They all seem to have the same lighting director because everything is always cast in this ugly, bland hue with de-saturated colors and too much shadow. There is no depth the surroundings and it looks like a video game. Action movies, science-fiction and horror films all suffer from that these days which kills an otherwise good film. Maybe it’s just fad the industry in going through, but I know I’m not the only one, as “Skyfall” and “Django Unchained” were two of the best looking films of not just last year, but any years…H-town ended Shaky cam garbage, let’s end this terrible trend too…
That entire aside, if this one makes plenty of box-office bank and it gives us a sequel to Army of Darkness as the rumor goes then all will be forgiven….