Evil: The Studio slates and opening sequence seem to let you know what you’re in for; a full-bloodied update of 1981’s campfest Evil Dead. Too bad it’s pretty middling for most of its setup – possibly even for the first two acts. In addition to mistaking volume for scares, there’s an abundance of lousy dialogue and cheap shock-shots. But still it manages to be unsettling even though some surprises were given away in the trailer. However, it’s tough to overlook its inherent weaknesses in the age AC (After Cabin in the woods); with the 5 teenagers, the weird stuff in the basement, the finding of a creepy talisman, the unleashing of the supernatural threat, the lack of sticking together in a crisis, the last girl standing, dumb people making dumb choices, characters who exist mainly as fodder, adults who don’t know not to withdraw an impaled object, and of course the creepy cabin in the woods itself. At least they offer a reason why they all are there in the first place, and why they stay even after weird things abound.
But even the updating seems a bit dated. Apparently, twitching is the new black, as anyone with nervous tick is obviously taken over by some force. Although we’ve seen all that in recent possession flicks, at least they have contortionists crawling on the ceiling. It also goes the full C-word, and begins to feel more like an update of The Exorcist than of the Evil Dead, with young ladies projectile vomiting and saying nasty things in gnarly voices.
But all of this is done too seriously, and indeed the movie has been sold as the scariest thing you will ever see instead of the goriest, campy creepfest you will ever see, which is what I wanted/expected from a remake of Evil Dead.
Good: But when it finally finds its Sam Raimi-footing, even the ridiculous last-minute saves and multiple endings can’t keep it down. Obvious homages land well, and the abundant gore takes on the humor that put Raimi and Bruce Campbell on the map. Although the 91 minutes seem a bit long, its slow start is soon forgotten; lost in truckloads of blood, gore, and severed limbs. You may feel a bit exhausted by the movie’s end, so relax and take in the blood-splattered credits, and wait until the very end for a special treat.
Rich’s Movie Grade: B-
Directed by: Fede Alvarez
Written by: Fede Alvarez (screenplay), Diablo Cody (screenplay), Sam Raimi 1981 screenplay, Rodo Sayagues screenplay