Evil Dead (2013)

new-evil_dead-posterThe newest addition to a cult classic franchise released tonight, and the old man and I were there to take it all in.  Evil Dead revisits the 1981 feature length directorial debut of Sam Raimi.  It is the story of five young adults out in a cabin in the middle of nowhere so that one of them can turn over a new leaf, and detox herself from her drug addiction.  As often happens in movies where the word “Dead” is in the title, things don’t go well.  After finding a bunch of dead cats and a book bound in flesh, inked in blood, an unspeakable evil begins to possess the quintet one by one, forcing them to do horrible things to themselves, and each other.

This time around, backed in a producing role by the creative team of the original films, another up and coming director who’s gained some notoriety from his short films, Fede Alvarez, takes the helm.  His movie is original, gory, and fun, enough to stand on its own merit, but it’s also a love letter to the original trilogy, showing the influence of–and paying homage to–the originals throughout.

Would you like to know more?  Continue reading…  spoilers are minimal, but the images are more graphic than I normally post here.

Alvarez, and co-writer Diablo Cody, did well to capture the simplistic spirit of the original series, while creating more than just a “Kids are partying in the woods this weekend, better kill ’em all…” story.  The set-up of Mia as a detoxing drug addict works well to help explain the skeptical actions of the other characters for a while.  By the time the shit really hits the fan, the excuses tossed around by the characters don’t really hold water, but they are clearly just throwing around rationalizations for the insanity surrounding them.

When it comes to horror movies, though, the story is really only window dressing.   I’m trying really hard to judge the film on its own, and not constantly hold it up against an unreachable nostalgic standard.  And since this is a horror movie, that means cracking out Dad’s Review Formula.

  1. Is it a jumper?
  2. How’s the gore?
  3. How stupid is it?

1) Is it a jumper?

Yup.  But just barely.  There were two strong flinches that bordered very nearly on full fledged jumps.  One was in the basement wh–jJust kidding, I’m not going to tell you that.

Actually, jumps are probably this movie’s biggest flaw.  Both myself and the Old Man felt that the timing was just a hair off perfect.  This resulted in several near flinches that felt very strongly like missed opportunities at the time.

2) How’s the gore?

Fan-fucking-tastic.  Without a doubt this is the strongest element to the entire movie.  I may be wrong, but I’d say that the effects used were about 99% practical, 1% CGI.  The only thing that looked noticeably CGI to me was a tree-slug that exited a swamp-demon’s mouth.  Everything else appeared to be practical effects.  I’m a big, huge even, proponent of practical effects in horror movies.  Things just feel more Real™ when the actors and actresses are swishing around in corn syrup and baking soda.  Puss filled wounds and tearing muscles that look like you could run your fingers through them are what make gore great.  When they’re done right, they add a visceral realism you can’t find in CGI.  When they’re done wrong, they’re laughably bad.  It’s a win-win.  I’m pleased to say that this film has both, but leans heavily towards the former.

The actors don't stay dry.

Can you pass me that roll of paper towel?  Yeah.  The one with the sponge pockets.

3) How stupid is it?

Just stupid enough.  There are very few goofs to speak of, or at least I didn’t really notice them.  That’s good, though, because if you’re noticing major goofs in your first viewing of a horror movie… when you’re in a crowded theatre full of fans enjoying the show…  it had better be camp.  As I mentioned, the characters walk a line between traumatized somewhat believably stupid, and Dur-dur-durp.  The writers made some interesting choices for the direction the story takes, and I think are going to be incredibly divisive amongst viewers.  I personally think that being hyper critical of the plot of an Evil Dead movie is foolish.

One thing I did notice, having often used a chainsaw myself…  when you can’t get it started, press the primer button a few times in between tries.  I’d love to see someone do that in a movie, just once.

So that’s it… everything that needs to be covered.  Clearly the movie is a winner and… Who am I kidding?  There’s still just one more thing to ask…

Could you please pass me that knife?

Don’t suppose you’d be able to pass me that knife?

4) How Evil Dead is it?

Very.  Amongst the fan base, this is going to be a hotly debated topic in the days, weeks, months and years to come, I think.  A person’s feelings on this is going to depend very greatly on their feelings regarding the (probably) divisive decisions I mentioned earlier.  For the record, I’m totally on board with the direction they go, and how they get there.

I talked about the timing of the jumps earlier, and how it was off slightly.  Well one thing that wasn’t off, was the timing of the film’s throwbacks to the original films.  I had literally thought to myself, “Man, it sure would be nice to see–insert specific reference to the original films here–and BAM… it appears on screen, with at least five other nods to the original in the same scene.  Several other references are made to the originals over the course of the movie.  If you’ve seen them as many times as I have, and as recently, there are so many great nods to catch.  I don’t want to spoil what does and doesn’t appear, because that was a sizeable chunk of fun for me during the movie, but I will confirm that there is both Evil-Vision™, and a Build Sequence.  Also, The Love Monocle returns as the Brotherly Love Monocle.

Compared to the original trilogy on the whole, the movie isn’t nearly quotable enough, but I’m not holding that strongly against it, because The Evil Dead wasn’t very quotable either.

Thanks.

Thanks.

Groovy

So there you have it.  If you like horror movies, I think there’s a strong chance you’ll enjoy this one.  If you like the Evil Dead films, there’s a strong chance you’ll like this one.  This is definitely the best horror movie I’ve seen in a long time.  That’s not glowing praise, because I haven’t seen that many horror movies in recent years… but it’s still a quality endorsement. Go see it.  And stay for the credits.  Show some respect, you filthy primitives.

4/5

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17 comments on “Evil Dead (2013)

    • Thanks, man. I did enjoy it. I’m not the least bit surprised to see (now that my blackout is over) that it’s getting mixed reviews from fans and non-fans alike.

      I’m interested to see your reaction to them (at the very least the first one) come October.

  1. It’s ketchup packets galore, but that doesn’t really make a great film. It’s okay, but not the horror movie experience everybody needs to see. Good review Spike.

    • I agree, there are flaws. They didn’t bother me so much. I think there were a lot of different expectations of what this film could/would/should be, so it’s not surprising to see people viewing it as a let-down.

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

    • I wanted more, but I don’t know that I was expecting anything. With the full-on media black-out in regards to it, I didn’t form expectations. Hopes, dreams, thoughts of sugar plum fairies and pixie dust… sure… But if I had an expectation, it was to be incredibly disappointed, because it is very rare for me to not be disappointed when I’m excited about a movie.

      There are things about this one that do disappoint, but they don’t hold down the entire experience.

      Sorry to hear your audience wasn’t in the mood you wanted, as well. Mine was fairly deadpan. It wasn’t high energy, but you could tell from the discussion afterwards the general consensus was positive, with a few reservations.

  2. I am a lot more enthusiastic but I see a couple of your points. I like your Dads scale for judging these kind of flicks but with a film like this that has a history to it there is always that little bit more that counts. The references to the earlier films were great and anyone skipping out during the credits will miss the satisfying little goose at the end. There were a couple of quotable lines but nothing iconic. The practical effects are smashing. Great write up, I’m going to check out the Army of Darkness post right now.

    • I was glad to hear you enjoyed this one. I agree that, for me, I had to tack on that extra question. It’s a hard question for some people, though, because I think this series means something different to each fan, individually. Some love the camp, some love the gore, some just love Campbell’s charisma.

      Regardless, I found this to be a really good movie. The things I was looking for were there, almost without exception. If only the timing of the jumps had been better.

      Thanks again for checking out all the reviews from this week, and commenting. I always love hearing what others think.

  3. LOL @ your “Press the primer” suggestion. 😀 Movie characters can’t have THAT much common sense, man! LOL

    I’m with Richard, as you know, I’m more enthusiastic on this. I dont think “jumps” need to be part of the equation, as we discussed over @ FMR. I also didnt think the characters were really THAT stupid, except for the fact that one of them read out of the book that had DO NOT READ written in blood on it. But hey, if he didnt, we wouldnt have a movie. 😉

    Glad to see you really liked it though. I cant believe how many flat out negative reviews I’m running across. Seriously, what more can you ask for?

    • Some people wanted more camp… one comment, tweet or something that I read was from someone that didn’t even realize that Ash wouldn’t be a character in the movie.

      I think that the fact that the trilogy as a whole has several different aspects that define it for some people. Camp, Ash’s charisma, some of the greatest Batshit Craziness on film, Generic Horror, adapting the “Cabin in the Woods” style campfire story to screen… There were bound to be people that were greatly disappointed.

      And then some people are just primitive screwheads…

      Thanks for stoppin’ by and commenting, too.

      • No problem, man, I’ll be working through the rest of Evil Dead week as I get a chance, too.

        Its sad so many people get hung up comparing things to the original. The Evil Dead was a solid remake candidate. Big Name, enough time has passed, it could be updated with better special effects, less camp, etc. And this did that. So 😛

  4. Pingback: Evil Dead Week | Fat Guy With Glasses

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