I saw the remake of Evil Dead last night. I ate a ton of toffee popcorn beforehand so I’d be buzzing my tits off on all the sugar and thusly have a more immersive, twitchy horror-movie-watching experience. I had to keep topping myself up to maintain a steady buzz but that’s okay because my friends shared their Skittles and Jelly Babies so I could re-up all over the goddamn place. Anyway, yes. Evil Dead. I can tell you what I did and didn’t like it about it but I can’t stay for too long. I really want more sugar.
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The trailer made it pretty clear that when it comes to the claret, Evil Dead isn’t fucking about. The film is essentially a gooey, gory rollercoaster ride where the red stuff flows in positively heroic quantities. That creepy bit with the lift in The Shining would only account for a quarter of all the plasma shed in this movie. There is not one human limb or appendage that is not subjected to some sort of bludgeoning. If you like your horror movies with a good bit of squelch, then Evil Dead is manna from heaven. See it with as big an audience as you can, as the theatre-wide repulsion is all part of the fun.
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Indeed, this is the most unashamedly hardcore horror movie released by a big studio (in this case Sony) for quite some time. Anyone with concerns that the original’s more splattery, sadistic tendencies would have to be reigned in can rest easy; this is not a movie for grandma, unless grandma likes to see young women getting raped by a tree and vomiting demon blood in which case maybe keep her off the sherry for a bit.
Evil Dead is a concerted attempt by its makers (and the creators of the original, who all serve as producers) to do right by its heritage and conceive a brutal, supernatural horror film. There are a few jumpy bits but nothing which unsettled me too badly, which says a lot as I am more fragile than wet tissue when it comes to jumpy bits. The movie bleeds red with abandon and makes no apologies for it.
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I also liked Jane Levy, a young actress who has a juggling act of sorts as she must play victim, protagonist and antagonist all in the course of a single movie and keep the audience with her every step of the way while doing so. Amazingly, she pulls it off. The rest of the cast do the best with what they’ve got but they’re largely used as fodder waiting to be dispatched. It would have been nice if, some way, somehow, the film had found a means of making me care more about these people. If nothing else, it would make their deaths more upsetting and by extension, more unsettling.
There was some stuff I didn’t like. The film tries to play it straight – and rightly so, as any attempts to mimic Evil Dead 2’s genius slapstick comedy would have felt immensely cheap – but the sombre, joyless atmosphere feels much too thick at times. I wasn’t expecting much in the way of logic in this film but there some spectacularly daft “I-wouldn’t-do-that” moments sprinkled throughout. These, coupled with the grim, autumnal tone produces moments of unintentional comedy. One particular death scene was met with guffaws from the audience. And I was one of the people laughing.
The posters sells the film as ‘The Most Terrifying Film You Will Ever Experience”. It’s not. What it is is a well-made, pleasingly visceral 90 minutes which largely does justice to the source material. It was inevitable that someone somewhere would want to remake the 1981 original, and I’m just glad Sam Raimi was there to walk the new kids through it. It doesn’t help that The Cabin In The Woods came out last year and automatically rendered this film a tad empty and irrelevant, but its still a fun night out at the cinema. You should also stick around after the end credits for a surprise.
Now get me some more sweets.