Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Film Review: Evil Dead (2013)

Evil Dead (Review)
United States/2013
Netflix Streaming: No
Amazon Prime: No

"...easily the most disappointing film of the year."

A group of friends get together at an isolated cabin in the woods in hopes of rehabilitating their drug-addicted friend, Mia (Jane Levy). Unfortunately, there is something much more sinister awaiting its awakening....

Evil Dead continues as Eric (Lou Taylor Pucci), a friend of Mia's, reads a passage from a book titled Naturom Demonto, which, in turn, summons a demon. Mia is possessed, but no one believes her and they blame her behavior on withdrawal. And so, one-by-one, this group becomes possessed and the survivors have to find a way to stop it -- killing the host and freeing the soul. Unfortunately, this group isn't very capable or smart; however, this does lead to some very blood gore, so it kinda cancels out, I suppose. The film takes a turn for the worst during the final act when it becomes more cliché and more illogical, as well as taking a generic slasher approach.

Evil Dead takes up a serious, dark tone, but it's hard to accept it as it is. No, not because the original had some great underlining humor and charm. Rather, Evil Dead doesn't build up its ideas or characters to be considered a serious horror film. The emotional story elements and characters are all half-baked. And, the dark tone is spoiled by inconsistently humorous moments. (I can't be the only one that felt awkward laughing while one character tried to remedy all of the bloody mayhem with duct tape, can I? Or was that not supposed to be funny?) I like dark tone, I just wish it stuck to it and developed it more.

A bigger offense, in by opinion, is the lack of horror. The gore is great and all, and it's definitely a redeeming factor for the film, but there really isn't anything scary about it. I cringed during the box-cutter/tongue scene, but, otherwise, it's cartoonish. Cool for gorehounds? Definitely. Will I lose sleep at night? Nope. It doesn't help when some of the scenes look like they were shot during an earthquake in the dark. How much you like special effects or how scary you find violence will determine how scary you find the film. The jump-scares in this film fail miserably due to the lack of suspense, as well.

As for the acting, most of it barely reaches "good". Jane Levy is by far the worst in the film; she doesn't deliver a believable drug addict, she doesn't look like one, and her character came off as annoying due to the performance ( I should feel sympathetic, not irritated); this is mostly due to her performance either being very bland at times, or ridiculously over-the-top during others. Regardless, Jane Levy was either miscasted or misdirected. The rest of the acting was okay, Lou Taylor Pucci being a standout, which isn't saying much in this case. The special effects and makeup are great. The music is also great, having an ominous vibe one and an epic vibe during another. Fede Alvarez direction was okay, but it felt inconsistent, much like the often choppy editing.

Overall, Evil Dead offers plenty of gore, and gallons and gallons of blood. However, the story and characters are underdeveloped, suspense and thrills are nonexistent, and the cast deliver poor performances. I kept the original film out of mind as I already had a feel of what I was getting into: a dark, ultra-violent interpretation of a classic film. In other words, a standalone film with the same title. Even with this mindset, unfortunately, Evil Dead fails and is easily the most disappointing film of the year.

Score: 3/10
Parental Guide: Strong violence and gore.

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