Director(s): Fede Alvarez
Writer(s): Fede Alvarez and Rodo Sayagues
Cast: Jane Levy, Shiloh Fernandez, Lou Taylor Pucci, Jessica Lucas and Elizabeth Blackmore
Reviewed by: Christine Lambert on
Release Date(s)Apr 5, 2013 - Wide
In life, we sometimes receive lessons without even realizing it. We watch movies for escape, but still may inadvertently learn something. In the case of Evil Dead, a film marketed as “the most terrifying film you will ever experience”, the lesson comes early in the film.
Evil Dead is a remake of the 1981 horror cult classic The Evil Dead that starred Bruce Campbell. In the updated version, five friends arrive at what looks like an abandoned cottage, but in fact is a place that Mia (Jane Levy) and her brother, David (Shiloh Fernandez), would visit as children. Mia is a drug addict who has been brought up to the cabin to detox with the help of her friends: a nurse, Olivia (Jessica Lucas), a high school teacher, Eric (Lou Taylor Pucci), and David’s main squeeze, Natalie (Elizabeth Blackmore). The friends warn David that they have tried detox with Mia before only to have her quit after eight hours. This time they are determined to see this through. Oh foreshadowing, how sweet and necessary you are.
They arrive at the cabin only to discover that it has been broken into. Almost immediately, Mia complains of a horrible smell that only she can detect. At first, she is dismissed as having heightened senses, a symptom of withdrawal. When their dog starts pawing at an area rug, David and Eric open the floor hatch and confirm that Mia was right, there is an awful smell in the house and it’s coming from downstairs. Investigating, they find decaying cats strung from the rafters, a burnt support beam, and an odd book that has barbed wire around it. Obviously there was some ceremony down there that was the cause of the horrible smell. Eric brings the book upstairs, takes out a pair of wire cutters, pulls the wires apart and recites an ancient chant that summons up demons living in the woods.
This is where the life lesson I referenced earlier comes into play: when there is a book wrapped in barbed wire found amongst dead animals, dried blood and an unbearable stench, DO NOT USE A WIRE CUTTER TO OPEN SAID BOOK AND RECITE THE CHANTS INSIDE! Barbed wire has two objectives: keeping things in or keeping things out. Again, we are talking about barbed wire, not Post-it® notes with little hearts and rainbows that say “read me, pretty please.” Barbed wire.
Granted, the writers needed something to conjure up the evil spirits or else face making a short film or one that solely concentrates on the trials and tribulations of detoxification. The choice to have one of the characters go out of their way to discover something ominous makes the viewer root for their demise. All told, the word that you are searching for that aptly describes the Eric character is asshat.
One thing that is clever that the writers did was make Mia a recovering addict. All the pleas for escape fit perfectly with what an addict would really do. When the others finally realize that there is, in fact, evil lurking in their cabin, it was very big of Mia not to break out in a chorus of “told you so!”
Evil Dead is big on gore, big on violence, but surprisingly not big on fright. While there are jump-in-your-seat moments, by and large the film is predictable and not really that scary. The amount of violence in the film is downright pornographic. No doubt the filmmakers choices were based on upping the ante when it comes to the shock value. What it shows, however, is that with every film becoming gorier than the last, the real shock is how desensitized to violence we have become. When a film with more dismemberment than a slaughter house doesn’t inspire anything scary, you know there is something wrong.