This review can also be found at the South West Londoner, here.
Despite my passion for the arts, there are gaps in my knowledge. The most salient ones are with film. I became interested in film after a lot of ‘cult status’ films made their rounds, and with my already huge backlog of films to see, a lot of them have gone unwatched.
So, although I know it was a major factor in forming its genre, I have not seen the original 1981 Evil Dead. Nor am I especially well-versed in the ‘slasher’ variant of horror films, aside from a regrettable evening where I was coaxed into watching all the Saw films back to back.
So I was entirely down for watching the 2013 reboot. The director is different – this new film is directed by Fede Alvarez instead of the longer-established Sam Raimi – but if it grabbed my attention, I was prepared to fall in love with a whole new genre.
Still, I hedged my bets; I made sure to not step into the screening alone (or sober). That decision turned out to be for the best, as Evil Dead thrives not on its own merit, but by bringing audiences closer through how shamelessly bloody and silly it is.
The plot, I am told, clings close to that of the original. Five teenagers stay in a run-down cabin in the woods, finding that it was used for Shady Things of a Mystical Nature.
One of them finds a book made from flesh, has the complete lack of foresight to read magic words from it and things get real bloody real fast. Chainsaws, possession and vague sexual abuse metaphors follow.
Interestingly, a lot of this material was familiar to me without having even seen the source material – which says a lot for how well-worn the themes are. As a whole, Evil Dead goes over every standard horror convention with precision but without artistry.
A lot of it was funny, but not often intentionally. While the acting isn’t exactly bad, they have a rather weak script to work with, and no performances stand out enough to make it worth recalling actor names.
Once the evil entity in the house possesses one of the characters, almost every line they utter is hilariously filthy, Exorcist style.
The copious amount of blood thrown around is also worth a giggle (the credits scene has props plunging into endless pools of the stuff), but to Alvarez’s credit, all the effects are practical. A worthy mention in an industry filled with computer generated scenery, effects and costumes.
The soundtrack is also one to bring up, if only because it starts blaring loud sirens whenever someone suffers a grievous injury, like ambulances are going to burst in from off camera.
I came out of the cinema feeling entertained, but not especially satisfied, and definitely not scared.
Watch It: If you have a horror movie night arranged with lots of booze, you want a textbook example of the slasher genre (…for whatever reason), you take knowing amusement when ‘the black character dies first’.
Skip It: If the sight of blood makes you queasy, you absolutely cannot handle jump scares, you roll your eyes when ‘the black character dies first’.
Want more? Actually watching the original film is a safe bet (though I’m not sure if it’s necessarily better than this one). Cabin in the Woods makes a perfect companion piece to this film, though I find it notably flawed.