Friday, April 5, 2013

EVIL DEAD (2013)

Real talk: "SLIGHTLY ABOVE AVERAGE", "IT'S OKAY!", and "IF YOU LIKE HORROR, YOU WILL ALSO LIKE THIS MOVIE, PROBABLY" don't look so impressive on posters.  And horror websites don't get precious traffic by rating "event" films with restraint and exacting criticism, since 2 1/2 chainsaw or whatever ratings for most theatrical horror isn't nearly as exciting or stimulating as ZOMG NEAR PERFECT EXPERIENCE and REDBAND TRAILERZ.  Horror reviewers have become part of the team of carnies that inflate expectations to the hilt before hyped projects and remakes hit the scene, working hand in hand with original cast and crew on hand for authenticity's sake and studio social media marketing departments.  You (and I) should take their many raves with a grain, nay, SILO of salt. 

Real talk: EVIL DEAD 2013 is not a perfect film.  It's not really a straight remake either, since it steers the plot and tone in different directions.  And that's where the frustration lies.

Drug addict Mia meets up with three friends and her estranged brother at a cabin in the woods.  There, she'll try to go cold turkey and kick her habit, but this well-prepared plan is undone by the discovery of a basement full of hanging grue and a book stitched out of flesh.  Next, possession happens, signaled by contact lenses and methy twitching.  Bodies get unbuilt, blood's flushed in rivers and raindrops.

For EVIL DEAD, gore is serious business.  De-facing, un-limbing, and plenty of sharp piercings and chainsaw mutilation are effected with considerable care, all rendered (as you have surely heard) with practical plastic FX instead of CGI.  It all looks great and the obligatory lecherous tree scene here is maybe better than its ancestor scenes in the original I & II.  Within the woods where demons roam, vaginal attacks are only the first of your ordeals.

So the violence is unimpeachable, but the same can't be said about the script.  EVIL DEAD meshes so well with drug addiction conceptually!  The demons in the original trilogy act totally like manipulative junkies, claiming to be "all right now" and lying about it and then preying on their victim's nostalgia and emotions and regrets.  So it's pretty disappointing that what could have been a major strength for this film kind of just withers away.  The script fails to take advantage, since it's more concerned with gettin' to the gore (fine, but not what near perfect horror movies are made of).  There are also a few feeble attempts made at a reunion/redemption theme, but we're talking five minutes out of the movie.  The dialogue is standard-fare at best and excruciating at worst ("I released something from that book...something evil!" and pretty much ALL the demon dialogue made me cringe).  The dialogue in the original EVIL DEADs might not have been timeless poetry, but it was also part of movies that had innovative plotting and surreal atmosphere.  This EVIL DEAD has none of that and basically feels like a well-made EVIL DEAD rip-off.

I don't want to come off like I abhorred this thing, because it's leagues better than a real catastrophe like TEXAS CHAINSAW 3D.  It's just that it's not anything that special, so it's very difficult to see why it garnered such fulsome praise from the critics that we trust to protect us.  If gore count was the only thing necessary for a horror film to be "great", MORDUM and SLAUGHTERED VOMIT DOLLS would be considered all-time classics (spoiler: they aren't).  Worth a matinee watch or a Netflix stream, but I don't get the teen-like squeeing over it.  Please note that the Internet seems to disagree with me on this issue, though.  Between this and the Harlem Shakes, perhaps I am finally getting too old to relate to the youth culture.  Old man yells at Internet cloud!

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