Friday, 19 April 2013

EVIL DEAD

I'LL SPOILER YOUR SOUL!

And the latest horror remake is.... Sam Raimi's literally barnstorming cabin-in-the-woods classic that kicked the horror genre mightily in the balls more than three decades ago, got banned as a video nasty and is still terrifyingly bloody and bloody terrifying after all these years. "Spam in a cabin", as Joe Bob Briggs enthusiastically described it; it led to a less terrifying sequel, a goofy but entertaining Part 3, and has now ended up on the remake pile despite the untouchably high standards of the original. Sad to report, then, that it's awfully bloody but bloody awful. It may sound unfair to keep measuring the 2013 incarnation against the 1981, but hey: it's an official remake, sanctioned by Raimi and Robert Tapert and Bruce Campbell. If they didn't want to be compared to The Evil Dead they shouldn't have remade it.

Evil Dead (minus the indefinite article) basically follows the original template with five kids at the spooky woodland shack: they go down into the cellar, find weird stuff, accidentally release evil spirits, they turn into Deadites and the only way out is bodily dismemberment. The main changes to the - let's be honest - not devastatingly sophisticated original are that the main leads are brother and sister rather than romantically involved, and she's a junkie in danger of overdosing again, so needs to be kept in the cabin for her own good. From then on it's blood, goo, power tools, amputation, head squishing, nailguns, more blood, machetes, chainsaws, more blood, burial alive, fire and literally shedloads of gore.

So why is the movie borderline boring? Why is none of it scary, why does none of it work? There's enough blood and gore to drown a small South American republic, but there's no impact: I didn't wince or murmur "yuck!" once. And I didn't jump once either, no matter how loudly the door slams and Roque Banos unleashes a squealing crashing dischord on the soundtrack. None of the characters are really worth caring about, but then that's not really a problem as we didn't much care about the original's selection of meat courses (except the soon-to-be-legendary Bruce Campbell, obviously). It lacks the ramshackle charm of the Raimi's film, even though it's scarcely a huge budget film (seventeen million dollars, apparently; still a bottomless pit of cash against the sixpence and string from which Raimi worked little miracles).

Will it work for the modern multiplex crowd? Probably: it piles on the gore and screaming with undeniable enthusiasm and efficiency, and given the existence of rubbish like Texas Chainsaw and Stitches, that's obviously enough because modern cinema audiences will clearly watch absolutely anything (though they won't stick around for the obligatory post-credits stinger which frankly isn't worth the wait). But the sad fact is that just as The Fog and Halloween will always be John Carpenter's films by default (unless otherwise stated), and any mention of Dawn Of The Dead is automatically assumed to be the Romero film, so Evil Dead will always be Raimi's unless prefixed by "Fede Alvarez's" or "the remake of...". If you've seen The Evil Dead, then Evil Dead 2013 is a feeble photocopy that simply isn't up to the job. If you haven't, why the hell not?

**

1 comment:

dtmmr.com said...

Even though it does spark from time to time, it can't seem to ignite or let alone sustain any sort of suspenseful, campy or terrifying atmosphere. Good review Richard.