Saturday, April 06, 2013

Evil Dead (2013)

*** 1/2
[Joint review of Crystal Math and Johnny Sweatpants]

Crystal Math: “What would Roger Ebert give this? ‘Thumbs up’ for an honest effort?”

JSP: Playing the “what would Ebert think?” game is a new and thoroughly depressing exercise. In Siskel & Ebert’s review of the original Evil Dead, Ebert did admire the craftsmanship and the simplicity of the film. (Siskel was a wet blanket; no surprises there.) I think Ebert would acknowledge the noble effort to capture the essence of the original without tarnishing its legacy but he would likely dismiss it as all style and little substance.    

Crystal: And in the wake of the great movie critic’s unfortunate passing, it is crucial now more than ever to honor his memory by either praising -- or bashing -- a movie with the same amount of thought and impeccable phrasing the late Mr. Ebert would have granted. It’s been years since I’ve seen the original Evil Dead, and remember precious little of it, so sitting in a dark room for an hour and a half staring at a screen with blood and guts spurting everywhere had the elicited the right amount of squirming from me. I spent the last 15% of the movie hiding behind JSP going “Ewww -- eww -- eww make it stop!”

It is worthwhile to know that writer/director rookie Fede Alvarez had Raimi’s blessing and dinero to back up the film project -- a message to a true horror movie enthusiast of a promising bloodfest. The movie opens with a vulnerable young woman hobbling through the woods to evade some backwoods hillbillies bent on kidnapping her. When it is revealed that her own father was behind the hunt, this compelling prologue abruptly ends and you feel thrust into an alternate reality of pain and torture and demons who swear worse than your senile grandmother. A cinematic tone of unapologetic gore and violence has been established as an undisclosed amount of time passes and we see five young people arriving at this eerie and totally unwelcoming cabin in the woods. With the Necronomicon and possessed ones foretelling of everyone’s demise kept intact, we can now proceed with the idea of the original Evil Dead -- people must die to appease demons.

JSP: Even with the original director overseeing the project, remaking a beloved cult horror flick like Evil Dead in 2013 is tricky bidness. Is it possible to capture the brilliance of the trendsetting low budget shlock-fest that introduced Bruce Campbell to the world? There were a million ways in which they could have screwed this reboot up. On one side if it was unrecognizable from the original then we would cry blasphemy and if it was too faithful then we would dismiss it as an unnecessary exercise. Fans of the original who feared that it would skimp on the grossness have nothing to gripe about. There are several utterly revolting sequences to satiate even the most disturbed aficionado.

Crystal: The change of motive for the five individuals spending time in the cabin from a casual Spring Break vacation to a heavy intervention of character Mia’s heroin addiction created a heavier atmosphere which also served as a clever plot device to raise the stakes. When Mia starts seeing things in the woods and acting violently, who would believe she wasn’t just going mad?

JSP: Heroin detox as a metaphor to ‘exorcise the demons' was a daring decision that paid off. It set the perfect manic tone for a film that warrants urgent decisions. It's understandable why Mia's friends choose to ignore to her pleas to leave the woods. What does she know? She’s a junkie.
Silly junkie lost in the woods.
Crystal Math’s gripes:
1.) Ladies, brush your damn hair out of your face! Any ounce of moisture in the air seems to necessitate a messy hair-in-face look out of any chick in a horror flick. I understand that this is for effect, but you know -- it’s a bit overplayed??

2.) Stop piecing together sound bytes of fingernails on a chalkboard every time a girl screams. I feel like whenever I go to the movies I’m subjected to a variety of animals’ roaring and screeching and I’m supposed to buy that as a wolf growling, or a person screaming, or any singular being that *magically* has the voice of five or more beings? Puh-leease.

3.) Conclusion: for the same budget, effects, and creativity exercised in this remake, Alvarez could have made a smashing original that brings something new to the table other than spastic possessed girls and things jumping out at you.

JSP’s Gripes:

1.)  I don’t have too much to say other than I enjoyed it but I still feel it was wholly unnecessary and ultimately forgettable. Why not just watch the original again?

2.)  Little to no investment in the characters. True, the characters in the original weren’t very memorable aside from Ash but it was ok because we still had Ash. The character of David (played by Shiloh Fernandez from Deadgirl) was hardly a worthy successor.  

3.) I just spoke with JPX about it and he remarked that he found it gross but not scary. I agree!


JPX said...

Excellent review, I completely agree with your analysis. Ultimately I was underwhelmed by this remake. Although there were a few stand-out sequences, there is not a single scare to be found in Evil Dead. The characters are blah and forgettable and the framing story was completely unnecessary. There was too much exposition and the necronomicon was too easily translated. I plan on watching the original Evil Dead tonight for the 20th+ time. I don't think I will ever watch the remake again.

AC said...

thanks for the reviews, we will definitely skip it for now, but maybe check it out in october.

Johnny Sweatpants said...

So let's take a moment to assess horror remakes. Classics that have been tainted by forgettable remakes now include Evil Dead, Halloween, The Omen, Friday the 13th, Nightmare on Elm St., Psycho, Wicker Man, Last House on the Left, and soon to be Carrie. All of the above are footnotes.

On the plus side I count Dawn of the Dead as a worthy successor and... that's it. It's quite the anomaly.

The Piranha and The Hills Have Eyes remakes blew away the originals but the originals were nothing special.

Johnny Sweatpants said...

Here's a list of horror remakes. It's not pretty.

Octopunk said...

Sorry to comment so late... I'm really glad you took this on! I'm disappointed that this brings nothing to the table, where is there another "yes, I'm glad they made that" remake to go with Dawn of the Dead or The Ring?