Despite many critics profusely praising Evil Dead on some well-known websites, do not believe any of it. This remake removes any aspect of its 1981 predecessor’s gleefully stupid and frightening exuberance and instead substitutes any real scares for stomach-churning over-the-top violence making this a dull blood-soaked gorefest that bears absolutely no resemblance to the famed cult franchise.
There are a few things I learned from this clichéd experience that I can pass along, though. They were:
- Heroin addicts have a great tolerance for pain.
- Whenever a Book of the Dead is discovered, it will inadvertently be used to conjure up unspeakable demons.
- Satan, no matter how infinitely powerful, can be held at bay with a McCulloch chainsaw.
- People under duress completely forget how to drive.
- Remakes, by their very nature, are far inferior to their original product.
Remakes are also generally inferior to any original product, as “The Cabin in the Woods,” which turned the teen/slasher genre on its ear in 2012, shows.
In this latest cabin in the woods tale, another group of unknown and unlikable 20-somethings face elimination from dark, terrifying and nearly supernatural forces. Here, David (Shiloh Fernandez, “Red Riding Hood) with drug addled sister, Mia (Jane Levy, “Fun Size,” a movie much more horrifying than this one), conducts an intervention in a dilapidated remote and isolated family vacation home — for reasons unknown.
Along for this bizarre event are registered nurse Olivia (Jessica Lucas, “Big Mommas: Like Father, Like Son“), hippy-dippy high school teacher Eric (Lou Taylor Pucci, “Jack and Diane“), and David’s non-descript girlfriend, Natalie (Elizabeth Blackmore, “Burning Man“). After swearing off drugs — for the umpteenth time apparently — Mia smells something rotten, and it turns out the cabin contains the carcasses of numerous dead cats, as well as the obligatory Book of the Dead. Egghead Eric duly translates the tome, bringing an evil entity to life and sealing everyone’s doom.
Soon, Mia is re-possessed by a creeping vine (through an orifice best left undescribed) and haunted by her extremely unattractive doppleganger before turning into a Linda Blair-lite.
This leads to scene after scene of amazingly gratuitous bloodfeasts, including characters slicing off various body parts, plunging syringes into eyeballs, slamming skulls with plumbing devices, the firing of nailguns into soft, inviting flesh, people being buried alive, stabbings and bone-crunching blows to the head with crowbars and other implements. And just to keep reminding us of the unnecessary gore factor, there are also more mutilations, roastings, car wrecks and crushings — all of this in lieu of any competent storytelling.
Alvarez may have an advantage in budget and technology over the original “The Evil Dead,” but it does not mean this production holds any pleasure for the viewer.
With few genuine frights to speak of (dismemberments do not count), terrible acting, poor direction, lame plot and a visceral overload not seen since France’s Reign of Terror, Evil Dead is a most disappointing and unspeakably awful time at the theater. And like last year’s “Total Recall,” Evil Dead is another vivid example of a movie which not only invites, but begs the audience to rent and watch the original production.