I know a very small amount of you will have seen this, or will ever see this film. In Australia, it has only got a very limited release, despite grossing 54 million dollars worldwide on a 17 million dollar budget. Hopefully, it will get a wider release here. However, this film does not show the imminent change in the film industry, but rather the power of cult followings in the pervasive media landscape, as well as a misleading marketing campaign.
Evil Dead is essentially about 5 friends (having every relationship being shoved down our throat in the first 10 minutes) who go to a cabin in ‘the woods’ in order to ‘cold turkey’ detox the protagonist’s sister from her cocaine addiction. While the characters are pretty bland, with the manly David, the ‘nothing to say about’ Mia, the strong nurse Olivia, David’s ‘again nothing to say about her’ girlfriend Natalie and the English-teacher Eric. However, things turn from bad to worse when they find a ritual site in the basement, complete with dead cats hanging from the ceiling and the subtle smell of burnt hair (fresh from last night’s tasty immolation) and a book wrapped in plastic and barbed wire.
This is where the first stupid decision is made: the seemingly most logical of the group, Eric, cuts off the barbed wire, opens the book, finding strange inscriptions and translations warning him to not read the book or to continue. He then finds the dark scribblings over letters over strange indentations, goes on to reveal them by shading in a piece of paper over them. Then, the cherry on the cake, READS THEM OUT LOUD (in dramatic extreme close-ups). Now, one would think he would stop at least once and think: Now, this doesn’t seem normal to me, maybe I should stop.
Then, the normal chaos ensues, with possession after possession and feigned normality after feigned normality, until ones eyes would hurt from rolling them so much. Yet, this can’t be taken so simply, it is a refreshing re-visiting of the camp of the 80’s horror films, as well as a smart marketing ploy.
Now, firstly, this is not a good film, but it is a good or, perhaps more importantly, an effective ‘movie’. The distinction here is between film and movie; where the former is taken as a piece of art (an expression of the views of the director and other people), whereas the latter is taken as a medium sold as a product to the drooling masses. This is predominantly the latter, and can only be seen as a film as it is a remake of the 1981 cult classic ‘The Evil Dead‘. Yet, with a tagline such as, ‘The most terrifying film you will ever experience.’, it is still trying to be it’s own monster.
This is where it contradicts with itself: trying to find the balance between ‘fan service’ for the middle-aged fanboys of the original and trying to appeal to the usual couples who see horror films (i.e. the downward spiral of the Paranormal Activity franchise, and unfortunately the Saw franchise). Yet, I thought it balanced it really well, while doing more than it had to do, in order to fulfill both demographics. However, this is not a horror movie, it is a full-on slasher, packed with gore, a downpour (literally) of blood and too many horrible lines to shove a chainsaw through.
While all of these things work to the movie’s advantage, it also adds to the detriment. Having read many reviews on IMDb, a majority are bad, even giving them 1 star. People obviously need to re-watch the original: filled with horrible acting, bad decisions, a weak plot and cheap gore. This film too has some horrendous line deliveries, as well as nonsensical lines, moronic decisions, an improved plot (which, despite being more fleshed out, allows for more plot holes, strangely enough).
Having recently entered the Evil Dead universe, loving the first 2 and enjoying ‘Army of Darkness’, I thoroughly enjoyed this film, while also understanding how I also hated it. The important distinction that those who call this film an abomination both on the original and on horror as a genre is that this is a “movie”, not supposed to be critiqued, but enjoyed as a product. It needs to be seen and evaluated based on its intentions and how it satisfied them.
I think it shows a step in the right direction; maybe even that Hollywood will again embrace the 80’s camp of slasher or horror movies, while also creating new archetypes of the sub-genre. The great atmosphere of the setting, interesting cinematography, stunning and refreshing organic effects, great sound effects (albeit, with a repetitive and predictable score) and an intriguing (while confusing and forced) enough plot, all add to the movie’s style.
I definitely recommend that everyone should see this movie, if only to ignite the fire under Sony Pictures Australia ass, as well as see people get brutally murdered. Best feel-good movie of the year? Probably not, but with a self-dismemberment with an electric knife, this should satiate the thirsts of those who love gore and an adequate addition to the Evil Dead franchise.