Blood? Check... Gore? Check... Magic? Nope

Winnipeg Free Press - Section G - - ENTERTAINMENT - By Ran­dall King

IF the qual­ity of a hor­ror movie is judged by its pro­duc­tion val­ues, its per­for­mances, its script and its vis­ual ef­fects, then the re­make of Evil Dead is, in all de­part­ments, bet­ter than the 1981 orig­i­nal movie The Evil Dead.

Let’s face it, as a ve­hi­cle of ter­ror, the orig­i­nal film was a bit of a clunker. Its di­rec­tor, Sam Raimi, was a col­lege stu­dent, and he made the film with will­ing (some would say masochis­tic) friends on a ridicu­lously low bud­get un­der tor­tu­ous con­di­tions. The spe­cial ef­fects in­cluded crude stop-mo­tion an­i­ma­tion, pros­thetic goop and gal­lons of fake blood. The cast was am­a­teur­ish.

And yet... the movie had an un­de­ni­able magic. Raimi es­sen­tially re-in­vented the hor­ror movie as a re­lent­less as­sault on the senses. He em­ployed in­ven­tive cam­era work de­pict­ing the low-fly­ing point of view of a for­est de­mon. He dis­torted sound so that even his am­a­teur­ish cast sounded un­set­tlingly fiendish. The edit­ing (by Raimi and Joel Coen) achieved max­i­mum shock value. In 1981, the movie so im­pressed hor­rormeis­ter Stephen King, he be­stowed a sin­gle poster blurb that doubt­less earned it mil­lions: “The most fe­ro­ciously orig­i­nal hor­ror film of the year.”

The re­make Evil Dead, pro­duced by Raimi, Rob Tapert and orig­i­nal star Bruce Camp­bell and di­rected by first­time fea­ture di­rec­tor Fede Al­varez, could never be called “fe­ro­ciously orig­i­nal.” But it at least de­liv­ers on the fe­roc­ity.

It also im­poses a more-than-skele­tal plot, courtesy of Al­varez and co-scriptwriter Rodo Sayagues (with a re­ported pol­ish by Di­ablo Cody of Juno fame).

Mia (Jane Levy) ends up in the req­ui­site cabin in the woods with her es­tranged brother David (Shiloh Fer­nan­dez) and three other friends in a last-ditch at­tempt to help Mia kick her drug ad­dic­tion.

But as we see in the movie’s grisly pre­lude, the cabin has a past. It houses a Star­ring Jane Levy and Shiloh Fer­nan­dez Grant Park, Kil­do­nan Place, McGil­livray, McGil­livray VIP, Polo Park, St. Vi­tal, Towne. 18A 92 min­utes

out of five book of Sa­tanic ori­gin. The book­ish Eric (Lou Tay­lor Pucci) is un­able to re­sist the flesh-bound tome and reads a few se­lect words aloud. That’s never a good idea. Mean­while, Mia, in an abortive es­cape at­tempt, runs through the for­est and finds her­self re­liv­ing the orig­i­nal film’s no­to­ri­ous raped-by-the-woods se­quence. De­monic pos­ses­sion fol­lows. Mia, now pos­sessed of eerily de­monic eyes, prom­ises her fel­low cabin-mates that they will all die.

Not to give any­thing away, but some dam­age is def­i­nitely done to the fiveper­son pop­u­lace. If Mia’s pres­ence in the cabin was in­tended as a makeshift 12-step pro­gram, suf­fice it to say: seven of those 12 steps in­clude a crow­bar, a mir­ror shard, a nail gun, a sy­ringe, a shot­gun, an elec­tric carv­ing knife and of course, a chain­saw.

If you’ve been watch­ing hor­ror films for any length of time, you won’t find any new tools here, which is Evil Dead’s main flaw.

Raimi’s film was not all that orig­i­nal in con­cept. It cer­tainly owed debts to films that came be­fore, such as The Ex­or­cist and The Texas Chain­saw Mas­sacre. It was the way Raimi blended those in­gre­di­ents that made the recipe some­thing fresh and un­prece­dented.

Al­varez cooks up some­thing here that presents well enough, but lacks any in­ven­tive magic.

Evil Dead is in­spired by the 1981 movie The Evil Dead in ev­ery­thing but in­spi­ra­tion.

TRIS­TAR PIC­TURES

Some­thing wrong? Use your words!: Jane Levy in Evil Dead.

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