“Evil Dead” is stupid—the violence is absurd, the dialogue is corny and the story is cliché.
But that’s exactly why it’s so great.
“Evil Dead” follows drug addict Mia (Jane Levy) who, with the help of her friends and older brother David (Shiloh Fernandez), decides to spend the weekend at her family’s isolated cabin in an attempt to wean herself off of cocaine. Mia’s plans for recovery are foiled, however, when one of her friends mistakenly unleashes the evil spirits that lay dormant in the woods—we all know nothing inspires a relapse quite like being raped by a tree. One by one, the vacationers start to go ape sh*t and a bloodbath ensues—one girl cuts her own arm off with an electric carving knife. Watching helplessly as his friends and family drop like rabid flies, David realizes that he must bury his sister alive in order to save all of humanity.
Worst weekend ever.
Gory B-movies get a lot of flak, but the reality is that films like the 2013 reincarnation of “Evil Dead,” as well as the entire series that preceded it, are impressively self-aware. Like “Scream” or last year’s “Cabin in the Woods,” “Evil Dead” is in part an intelligent parody of itself—therein lies its beauty.
That being said, “Evil Dead” might come as a shock or disappointment to many people unfamiliar with Sam Raimi’s 1981 cult classic. Being able to extract the film’s numerous references to the original flick—two of which are a crashed Oldsmobile Delta 88 and a necklace modeled after jewelry gifted in the first installment—is a big part of the fun. At the end of the film, the chainsaw brandished in the first “Evil Dead” makes a reappearance so dramatic the audience actually clapped. Less subtly, the film follows the same basic story structure as the original, but adds a few twists, essentially making it an ode to the original series.
As is true with any respectable B-movie, the acting in “Evil Dead” is simply abysmal. It was a relief to know that flying limbs and unbridled carnage would soon put an end to the awkward group dynamic that weighed down the serious beginning of the film.
Although gem Jane Levy clearly excels at the whole Linda Blair thing—her “crazy eyes” could inspire poetry—Levy’s ability to portray a normal human being is lacking. When Mia wasn’t licking knives and projectile vomiting, Levy’s performance became empty and limited. She should only ever play the wackjob.
And, let me just say, it felt like there was a lot more than siblinghood stirring between Mia and David. Thick with uncomfortable and misleading sexual tension, their first scene together might have been the most terrifying moment in the entire film.
Unlike its inspiration, the 2013 “Evil Dead” has technology on its side. The gore in the original film is laughable—the possessed ladies spew milk out of their exposed sockets and the powdery make-up renders them about as intimidating as Miracle Max in “The Princess Bride.” The absurd carnage and special effects in the remake are still campy, but the work is more believable, which makes for a gorier film.
Long live the bloody B-movie.
Kellie may be reached at [email protected]