I can't be sure, but I think I have seen this movie before...

I don't know if I have mentioned it before, but I am fond of horror movies, and, as a self-proclaimed horror movie con-o-sur-e, I, or course, am well acquainted with Sam Rami's Evil Dead trilogy.  In fact, it would be safe to say that I somewhat enjoy the series, having bought Evil Dead twice, Evil Dead 2 on four separate occasions, and Army of Darkness at least four times as well. In fact, Evil Dead 2 was one of the films that encouraged me to get into film making in the first place. Granted, it never really went anywhere, and I really wasted a good portion of my life following that dream, so...um...screw you Sam Rami.

Evil Dead 2 is, in my opinion an almost perfect film, silly in all the right places, scary when it needs to be and just over all one of the most manic horror films ever made. Army of Darkness followed it up, in my opinion in a slightly weaker fashion, forgoing the horror of the first two films in favor of a sword and sorcery theme. As for the first film, well...it was a movie all right.

When I heard that they had green lit a remake of Evil Dead, I was perplexed to say the least, after all we are talking of rebooting one of the most beloved horror franchises in history and lord knows that is something that would never happen.





My fears were only slightly alleviated by Sam Rami and Bruce Campbell coming on to produce the film, as, you know, Hercules: The Legendary Journeys; and Bruce Campbell talking up how awesome the movie was turning out would have meant a lot more if he wasn't such a tremendous whore.
But a Saturday night is a Saturday night, and since I am not any good at fighting, I had to go with Plan B, seeing a movie, and what movie should I see but the one that this very article is about. It's like totes serendipitous or something. So, how was it?

Surprisingly, not bad, not bad at all. In fact, I believe this might have been the most hyper violent mainstream American film I have ever seen, and if this was any other franchise I would have been horrified by that, but since it is Evil Dead, it was bloody fantastic (see what I did there?)

The film starts in traditional horror movie fashion; a group of kids show up at an old cabin and start getting knocked off one by one. It's nothing we haven't seen before to be sure. Normally in a film like this the main cast would be made up primarily of stereotypes  the asshole jock, the geek, the slut, the virgin, the stoner, the disposable black guy, but Evil Dead saves a bundle by forgoing characters with personality and puts that money into gore effects, which I will get to in a minute. But in the mean time, a word about the characters and the actors portraying them.

Everything on this front is less than good, it never quite descends into terrible, it isn't for example as bad as "I'm Not Jesus Mommy" or "Troll 2" but that is actually not a good thing. I remember movies like "Troll 2" or "The Room" not because they were good movies, but because they took every opportunity to make a good, positive choice and spat upon them. Heavily. A big ol' loogie of disdain. The film makers went, hey movie, hope you like helmets because I am going to push on your newborn soft spot all day long, then feed you paint chips til bedtime. In other words, the movies aren't really all that good, and that makes them memorable.

How did that get here?

In Evil Dead however, the characters aren't terribly stereotypes, nor are they played by actors who might or might not have just been picked up outside the local Carl's Jr and given a rough idea of what the script is about before sticking them in front of the camera. They are just OK. OK at acting, OK at breathing. OK all around. And OK is forgettable. My first thought upon seeing one character after her not being on screen for a few minutes was to wonder if she was one of those Silence aliens from Doctor Who's last season, because the minute ANYONE went off screen, you just forget that they are in the movie. Even the main characters.

So, the bland characters are in a cabin in the woods trying to help Mike's or David's or someone not named Ash's sister detox from nameless powder drug (it's heroin, but for some reason they never call it that). While investigating a smell, they find a room in the fruit cellar filled to the brim with dead cats hanging from the ceiling  charred poles set in the ground, a loaded shotgun and a book, bound in human flesh, and inked in blood, also wrapped in plastic and barbed wire and tons of "DO NOT READ THIS SHIT OR Y'ALL GONNA DIE" in big bold letters all over the place. None of that is hyperbole or made up, all of that is crammed into an 8x10 room under the cabin.

Well at least it's not Twilight.

Well, since Darwin is a mean spirited bitch, Jonathan Coulton just opens that sumbitch up and starts translating from his "English to Demon" pocket dictionary and just wrecks the whole weekend THANK YOU VERY MUCH.

I was going to go with Bearded John Denver, but that was too much to type.

Well wouldn't you know it, translating long forgotten pieces of demon resurrection ceremonies out loud tends to be a bad idea, and Not Ash's drug addled sister goes all Hellspawn on us. From there the movie falls into itself with a furious vengeance  Director Fede Alvarez mashes his own manic, hyper violent style with the traditional manic, hyper violent style of Evil Dead really, really well. Perhaps a little too well. At times there were obvious throwbacks to the Rami classics that seemed a little shoehorned in, and did, briefly, draw me out of the movie. All in all though Alvarez handled the task of taking a beloved franchise and making it his own much better than I would have, which is, I think, the highest complement I can give.

As for the meat of the movie, the creature effects, hot damn does this movie like corn syrup. Everything that can happen to a human body does happen to a human body in this movie, and it looks really good while it is happening. Burns look burny, stabbings look stabby and nails look naily. Now, I should take a quick step back and mention something. I hate torture porn. Movies like Saw, and most of the horror remakes (the brown films) do not interest me in the least, and I am at a little bit of a loss as to why I am OK with the terrible things that happen in this movie. Perhaps it is because there is the element of the supernatural at play that lets me know it is a fantasy, Perhaps it is the fact that the movies tongue is wedged far, far into its own cheek. Perhaps it is simply because violence, like comedy, can only work if you go all out.Jokes aren't funny if you hold back on the punchline and violence isn't funny unless you shoot that guy with the nail gun 101 times and not just 100. You gotta turn it up to 11 either way.

This movie lives at 11.

With out a doubt this movie is the hardest mainstream "R" movie I have ever seen. In fact this is the hardest mainstream American movie I have ever seen. You can tell how much of it was inspired by Japanese Gore Horror films, which is this millennium's version of being inspired by Italian horror of the 70's and 80's. No face is left exploded, no bones left unbroken and no veins left unrended. And all of it is done with the Die Hard philosophy of, "Well as long as he's not dead, he's not too badly hurt." At one point, early in the film, Not-Ash is shot. In the arm. With a bloody shotgun. Point. Blank. His shirt got bloodied. That was about it. Folks are stabbed, shot, thrown, bit, carved, molested, and burned and really don't seem to mind it too much. Of course, if they did react properly, the movie would not be nearly as fun to watch.

If I had to pick one point of contention with the film, it would be the ending, which, to avoid spoilers, was unnecessary and felt tacked on. In fact, it sort of raises more questions than it answers, like a baby riding a motorcycle. Does that baby know how to drive that hog? Who taught him? If not, how is he doing it? How can he reach the handlebars? Or the clutch? Where are his parents? Is there a story where you can buy tiny helmets or is that a custom job?

Where is he buying tiny tools from? How is he paying for them? Does he have a job?

Ending aside, Evil Dead is a fun, amazingly violent film that does a great job of keeping true to the spirit of the original films without getting tied down with the nostalgia normally associated with remakes. Not only is this the best horror film released from a major studio in a long, long time; but it is the best horror remake yet.

Not that either of those are a hard achievement to reach of course.

If you don't mind blood, gore, violence and the scaries, check it out. Make sure it is in a crowded theater and hope that you can find one with people who have no idea what they are getting into, it is worth the ticket price just for that.

Rating A

TRAILER NSFW y'all. NSFW at all.

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