Sometimes, for better or worse, certain images leave a mental footprint that can never be unseen. For non-horror movie fans who aren’t used to this type of gruesomeness, here’s what “Evil Dead” has to offer: A girl cutting off her own arm, a razorblade through the tongue, a syringe to the eye, blood splattering everywhere courtesy of a chainsaw massacre, and much more too squirm-inducing to recall.
Of course, if you’re into this kind of thing, you’re probably giddy reading about the nastiness. A better horror movie, however, would transcend the genre and have wider appeal. As it is, it’s hard to see any non-horror fans enjoying what they see here, since much of it is downright sick.
Director and co-writer Fede Alvarez maintains the premise of the 1981 cult classic of the same name directed by Sam Raimi (“Oz The Great and Powerful”) and starring Bruce Campbell (who declined a cameo for this new version). However, Alvarez doesn’t keep that film’s occasionally campy humor (rewrites from Diablo Cody, who wrote “Juno,” don’t salvage the weak script), going for straight-up horror instead, which lends intensity to the action but is diluted by poor acting and storytelling during dialog-driven scenes.
Five people journey to a cabin in the woods so substance-abuser Mia (Jane Levy) can detox. Her brother David (Shiloh Fernandez) wasn’t there when their mother died, leaving Mia with a lot of resentment toward him, understandably so. Rounding out the group are David’s girlfriend Natalie (Elizabeth Blackmore), nurse Olivia (Jessica Lucas) and their nerdy friend Eric (Lou Taylor Pucci).
Let’s discuss Eric for a moment, because he’s a dumbass. Not sure about you, but if I were in a log cabin in the middle of nowhere and found a book wrapped in barbed wire that has “leave this book alone” written on one of its pages at the start, I’d stay the heck away from the book and split outta there without even saying goodbye. But not Eric, nooo — because the script needs him to be <> guy. You know, the one who sees demons and crazy rituals in some heavy tome and ignores the fact that it says “don’t draw” and “don’t say aloud” and proceeds to do all of the above, thereby summoning a demon to the cabin and ruining everyone’s weekend big time.
Soon the demon is possessing their bodies with an “Exorcist”-like voice and forcing them to puke blood and do awful things to one another with nail guns and a machete. The violence is shocking to the point of laughter, but it’s the kind of laughter that comes from discomfort, not humor. Worse, there aren’t many scares here — it’s mostly just one shocking gross-out after another — and the scares we do get are cheap and predictable.
“Evil Dead” even has an ending we see coming; though, to its credit, it does finish on a high note. Unfortunately, it’s not high enough to make all the blood and gore that gushed before it worthwhile.