Once upon a time, I loved horror movies. Everything about the genre seemed so exciting, so daring. I would line up to see the latest offering in theaters on opening weekend without a hint of hesitation. As I’ve gotten older, that feeling has slowly started to diminish. Although I’m not exactly sure why, horror flicks don’t dazzle me like they did when I was younger. I don’t like admitting it, but something in me has changed. Whatever the case may be, my tolerance for boring, middle-of-the-road horror is practically non-existent.
Maybe that’s why I didn’t enjoy director Fede Alvarez’s highly-anticipated “Evil Dead” remake nearly as much as I thought I would. Despite the impressive gore and some interesting visuals, the film was a joyless and nonsensical mess seemingly designed to cash in on the franchise’s fanbase. To make matters worse, the whole thing is an insufferable bore. Alvarez’s movie might be different from the original, but that doesn’t necessarily make it a stronger movie.
Although the names and circumstances may have changed, the setup is essentially the same: young people at a cabin in the woods are menaced by unspeakably evil forces. Instead of using the cabin as a place to hang out for the weekend, the modern heroes want to help a friend kick her drug habit. Everything is on-track until a high school teacher happens to decipher ancient text inside a book bound in flesh and inked with blood.
There are moments when “Evil Dead” shines on a purely visual level, but the film’s style lacks any sort of substance whatsoever. And while the franchise has never been known for its depth, Alvarez clearly wanted to do more with the story. You don’t tackle a subject like drug addiction unless you want to be taken seriously. Unfortunately for the audience, the director’s attempt to add some weight to the tale ultimately drags everything down.
Visually speaking, Alvarez gets extremely high marks. The gore is nothing short of fantastic, and the demons are certainly more convincing than those which inhabit the original. Sadly, the screenwriters didn’t really give us anything new to chew on. Instead of lifting iconic moments from the franchise, why not give moviegoers something unique? Fan service is one thing, blatantly jacking ideas is another. I suppose that’s a difficult thing to balance without alienating those who are looking for the scenes that made “Evil Dead” so memorable in the first place.
Maybe I’m just being too hard on the “Evil Dead” remake. Maybe I’m just a sad and jaded fan who is realizing the genre’s appeal is beginning to fade. Here’s the thing: I genuinely wanted Alvarez to succeed in his endeavor. As much as I love Sam Raimi’s flick, I honestly wanted the director to do something different with the material. Instead of a refreshing experience, I just got more of the same. Don’t take my word for it; give the film a chance. If nothing else, It might make you appreciate what Raimi and company achieved with no money that much more.
Fede Alvarez (director) / Fede Alvarez, Diablo Cody, and Rodo Sayagues (screenplay)
CAST: Jane Levy … Mia
Shiloh Fernandez … David
Lou Taylor Pucci … Eric
Jessica Lucas … Olivia
Elizabeth Blackmore … Natalie