Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Evil Dead

  So anyone who's known me for long enough knows I've tried to get them to watch one of the Evil Dead movies with me if they've never seen them. I love the original movies. Evil Dead II: Dead by Dawn is one of my all time favorite movies. So naturally when I heard they were remaking Evil Dead... my reaction was somewhat mixed. On one hand it could be impossibly cool. Provided they stick the landing and recognize what made the original two so great. (not including Army of Darkness here, because it's basically a comedy/adventure movie.) On the other hand, it could turn out to suck so horribly that it buries the name "Evil Dead" alongside all the shitty horror movie remakes that just DON'T get it. (see: A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010))

  Something happened that was worse though. It didn't actually suck. The movie itself was alright. I know some of my friends would hate me for saying this. However, I kind of liked it. Not that it deserves to be liked. The movie's basics are solid. Checklist? At least a few characters you don't want to see dead. Check. A decent pace. Check. Some cool gore. Check. A neat ending. Check. So basically... it has the essentials down. Yet, that's about all it has down. It takes cues from the original rather well but fails to grasp the inherent pseudo-comedy of it. Whether or not it was intention way back in 1981, I don't know. Yet the original had a subtly funny charm to it. The passion of the filmmakers shone through their shoestring budget, and produced something new and unique.

  This remake is only 'new' in fact, because it is nothing unique. It doesn't capture the spirit or tone of what made the original so damn fun. In part, I think, because you don't have a central protagonist to root for. There is the brother to the main character, David. Yet, he's kind of bland as a character and never really seems to take charge. Even if he did, it'd be a rip off of Ash. The original trilogy's protagonist. Bringing me to my next point. Ash made the series just as much as any other ingredient. This movie didn't want to try and recast such an iconic character, so they ran from it like fire. It suffers for it. Yet, I can't imagine any scenario where it would've been any better to include him.  The movie is lacking heart honestly. I was looking for something to grab onto, something clever, something unique, yet... as a whole, the movie doesn't have anything like that really.

  It standardizes a formula which became a trope and eventually a cliche. It does it's best to make a dark and serious movie, and it succeeds, but... it's not Evil Dead. Not like any fan would know it. The best thing about this movie is undoubtedly Jane Levy, who plays Mia. Mia is a drug addict who's been brought to an isolated cabin in the woods to go cold turkey and break her drug addiction for good. Obviously shit goes south, and Mia gets possessed by dark forces that've been lurking in the cabin for a long time. Levy gives the part her all, she plays Mia with gusto and manages to be the shining star of the movie. She's fun to watch, and practically makes it all worth it. The other characters however, range from passable to the precise useful function of a plank of wood. Don't overestimate how much a plank of wood is worth in a movie like the Evil Dead. Seriously.

  So, all the gripes aside, I circle back to the "basics". The gore and blood and icky stuff, is very well done. I commend the special effects team. This was gruesome as hell. (Which was the point, no?) I think they could've gone further personally and played up the psychological horror instead of just the physical, but alas. Next, I think the cinematography is gorgeous. Sets look creepy as all can be, smog and such are used to great effectiveness, and in it's best moments Evil Dead can be pretty entertaining. Some scenes are actually properly unnerving. (I'm looking at you, fucked up tree rape scene.) Yet scenes with such strength are far and few inbetween. The crew would be better off knowing that blood itself isn't scary anymore though. I did like alot of this movie simply because what it does, by taking a genre cliche, making it like a serious flick, and unloading buckets of gore on it, it does well. As something that bears the name Evil Dead, it fails. Yet, I reiterate, for a standard Hollywood-ized horror movie, this one is as slick, polished, and as well made as they come. In today's market of horror movies, this might seem original and unique to some... but only because it's competition is abysmally lame.

  The last highlight of this movie was indeed the end sequence, which was admittedly epic. I won't say more, but I will say that I would see the movie again. I don't think it was anywhere near as good as it could've been, and it was half as fun as it should've been, but there was enough in it that I did like to warrant another viewing sometime down the road. Having said that, it still qualifies as a big disappointment. Not to say it's a bad movie, it's very well made. Yet, not even the incantations from the Necronomicon could bring this sucker back to life.

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