Evil Dead (2013)
★★★ / ★★★★
Mia (Jane Levy) is taken to a cabin deep in the woods by Olivia (Jessica Lucas) and Eric (Lou Taylor Pucci) so she can go cold turkey from her drug addiction. Much to Mia’s surprise, David (Shiloh Fernandez), her brother, with his girlfriend (Elizabeth Blackmore) in tow, is actually able to keep his word about coming by to help through the transition. Soon enough, the withdrawal begins. Mia complains about the unbearable stench of rotting flesh but no one else detects even a whiff of it. Except for the dog. It smells something underneath the rug.
The moment I heard about a remake involving Sam Raimi’s “The Evil Dead,” I remember releasing a sharp sigh and feeling slightly peeved. Even though I consider the 1981 film to be about average, it has its charms from a horror standpoint as well as a surprisingly good performance from Bruce Campbell. Although “Evil Dead,” directed by Fede Alvarez, is a straight-faced horror film and lacks a commanding presence from any of the leads, it is nonetheless a good time. A person deserves a medal for not squirming or flinching at least three times. Some of the images made me want to crawl out of my skin.
The pre-title opening scene is ace. The details are best left unmentioned. Although I had a suspicion about where it is heading, there is not a moment where I felt sure. I wished this level of unpredictability is maintained throughout. It is most disappointing that the post-title scene in which each character makes an entrance feels forced. The way they feel toward one another does not hold much subtlety, so select plot points to be dealt with later on are too apparent. I suppose this is not a horror-drama (if it were, I would have focused my critique on the lack of strong and consistent parallelism between drug addiction and demonic possession) so it must be given a little credit for giving us knowledge about the characters’ relationships. Other horror movies bother to do far less.
Gorehounds will bask in the lake of sticky red. From the moment scriptures are read from a mysterious book–bound by human skin sewn together, no less–that was found in the cellar, every attack involves blood by the bucket, from faces being sliced open with glass to limbs being chopped off using kitchenwares. I wanted to look away but it was difficult not to because the camera is consistently right in between a person possessed by evil and an increasingly confused and terrified character. A sense of urgency is created so the physical confrontations are almost always never dull.
One thing that annoys me a lot in gory horror movies is the assumption that seeing blood in itself is scary. While that may be the case for some people, it is not the case for me. I’ve seen a lot of pictures where the moment the camera sees a puddle of blood, the score is amplified so that the audience will feel scared. Here, the blood leaps and spurts after the jolts. Still, I couldn’t help but let out an uncomfortable chuckle every time someone uses duct tape to prevent further blood loss. I guess that’s better than using Scotch tape. (I remember using a few as band-aid when I was a kid. Didn’t work.) It’s all part of the fun.
While the third act functions on a lower level of creativity than we know it is capable of, it remains enjoyable due to some of the allusions made with respect to its inspiration. While not especially scary, what I really liked about “Evil Dead,” directed by Fede Alvarez, is its relentlessness. It does not give us a lot of time to think during moments of desperation, such as how we might do things differently if we were in the protagonist’s shoes, so it is all the more engaging. A gradual build-up of tension in the beginning and relentless attacks about halfway through and onwards might have been a better alternative.