Horror films are one of the few places where realism isn't
always a good thing, and the extraordinarily graphic violence in director Fede
Alvarez's “Evil Dead” is a perfect example.
First, I want to make sure that I'm not complaining about
any film titled “Evil Dead” being “too violent and gory.” Of course it's gory,
as I expected.
But while Sam Raimi's 1981 original “The Evil Dead” was
graphically violent (as was his 1987 sequel “Evil Dead II”), the gore was so
over-the-top it wasn't gross. It added a level of absurdity to films that were
intended to be fun — and it worked.
Alvarez supplies copious amounts of blood in his “Evil
Dead,” but time and effort were spent to make all the gruesome images (and acts
of violence) look as realistic as possible. It was sickening, sure, but it
wasn't scary and it wasn't fun. It was just gross.
The only upside to the amount of gruesome violence was that
it caused my dear friend (and fellow “The Evil Dead” fan) Cara DaSilva and I to
look turn away from the screen in disgust at the same times — at which point
we made funny faces at each other.
One thing I've learned over the years: if you're at the
movies and you're more interested in thinking of different funny faces to make
at your friend than whatever is happening on the screen, well, you're probably
not watching a very good movie.
I think the biggest two issues I had with Alvarez's “Evil
Dead” — aside from the poster promoting it as the “most terrifying film you
will ever experience” — were the lack of fun and the lack of ownership.
By “lack of ownership,” I mean that Alvadez (who also
co-wrote the film) seems content to make a by-the-book remake of Raimi's 1981
masterpiece with a lot more money. The plot contains no interesting surprises
and no interesting characters.
Five people go to the woods, the “smart guy” reads from a
book he finds wrapped in barbed wire, and ultimately extremely realistic, gory
The characters are so generic that, little more than 48
hours after seeing the film, I can't remember any of their names. It doesn't
help that they were all idiots who lacked whatever gene was necessary to think
There's also the issue of how popular the “friends go to
remote cabin” genre has become in the three decades since Raimi's “Dead.”
In 1981, all the genre elements were (fairly) fresh.
Audiences hadn't been subjected to countless clones, or smart films spoofing
the genre like the hilarious “Tucker and Dale Vs. Evil” or the adventurous and
surprising “The Cabin in the Woods.” Alvarez and co-writer Rodo Sayagues are
too content to stick with the genre norms and, in the process, they've created
a film that was probably as boring on paper as it is on the screen.
I don't want to sound too negative, though. I wasn't bored,
for one, and I've seen movies that are much worse than this one. But it's not
very good and it doesn't come close to living up to the brand name, much like
the 1999 “Star Wars” prequel “The Phantom Menace.”
I think people would have enjoyed “Phantom” if it hadn't
been a good film preceded by outstanding films. “Evil Dead” would probably look
better if it wasn't a bland, new version of outstanding films.
When you're working with brand names that inspire excitement,
there are going to be expectations. On this note, “Evil Dead” is a huge letdown
instead of the “average letdown” if would be if it were just another dumb
And it certainly isn't “the most terrifying film you will
ever experience,” no matter who you are. For me, that title still goes to
either Frank Darabont's “The Mist” or Takashi Miike's “Audition.”
“Evil Dead” is rated R for strong bloody violence and gore,
some sexual content and language.