DIRECTOR Fede Alvarez WRITER Fede Alvarez; Rodo Sayagues; Sam Raimi (based on “The Evil Dead”) STARS Jane Levy; Shiloh Fernandez; Jessica Lucas CINEMA 18 April
Much like the Dawn of the Dead remake, at first assumed a travesty yet surprisingly good, Evil Dead can almost boast the same. Almost. Buzz from the States has had us believe that here is something very special, however one cannot help but wonder whether this enthusiasm is more a result of surprise that the film is not dreadful. What is in actual fact more surprising is just how lacklustre Evil Dead really is. While it manages to achieve the impossible in making one forget that it is a remake, the result is somewhat soulless and synthetic. This is Hollywood horror, after all.
The opener is an unexpected one, delivering some cliched tropes yet still managing to chill. It’s a strong start, indicating an entirely different approach to the story and a possible new emphasis on psychology. Certainly the opportunity to do so is present, the film bringing a drug withdrawal subplot; a smart move that adds a slightly different dimension here in that the film is also about the helplessness of those who do not know how to help someone they care about. Yes, a psychological element ripe for playing, but let down by a bare-boned script and subpar acting.
There is more character emphasis here where it is largely absent in The Evil Dead, but it is a token effort that feels shallow. There is no Ash, no standout character to feel attached to and root for. Adding to this shallowness is the overuse of predictive dialogue, resulting in a lack of suspense. While the majority of the audience will certainly already be aware that nobody will escape the cabin, this does not mean the film does not require that all-important factor; here, the writers have shown some unforgivable laziness, shirking the responsibility of creating it to rely on an assumption. And, the implication that possession is the result of a virus is just tiresome, if not slightly baffling.
Aside from basic script, the other factor that lets Evil Dead down is its heavy use and reliance on gore. While the violence is visceral and admittedly impressive in parts, especially so for being practically-driven, which is refreshing, there is simply nothing frightening about it. It’s an approach that creates a film that is much more about bloody aesthetics than anything else; attempts to instil fear come depressingly reliant on jump scares. It is fun to look at, however not particularly involving and certainly not impactive.
Overall, what the film does, that is, torture porn, it does well. But Evil Dead does not do The Evil Dead well.