Monday, April 15, 2013

Evil Dead Review

Evil Dead is the goriest, most overtly violent and disgusting film I've ever seen.  It also happened to make me more stressed out than the time I met Jessica Chobot at a gaming convention...but I digress.  If you've read any of my reviews for other horror films, say Paranormal Activity 3,for instance, it's no secret that I'm not a huge fan of the genre.  But I tend to watch them much for the same reason that I will force myself onto roller coasters - sometimes it's just fun to step out of your (my) comfort zone and get a little bit of a rush.  Luckily Evil Dead delivered on that front...

**Minor spoilers abound**

While it's been awhile since I've seen The Evil Dead or The Evil Dead 2, I can confidently say that this incredibly competent remake/reboot shares little resemblance to its predecessors.  First and foremost is our new protagonist, Mia (Jane Levy).  Her friends have brought her to a familial cabin in the woods to detox from her rampant drug addiction.  The drug addiction angle is clever if not wholly convenient: her friends make a pact to not allow Mia to leave the cabin no matter what she says or does.  This does, however, lead to a fantastic scene in which Mia pleads to her brother, David (Shiloh Fernandez), to let her leave the cabin...after she's been chased by a demon girl and then subsequently raped by a tree root.  The withdrawal angle also allows for the externalization and transition of Mia's battling her inner "demons" to the physical "demon" she must fight by the film's finale.

As my intro hinted at, Evil Dead is by far the goriest, bloodiest film I've ever seen.  That might not be saying much as I'm not a connoisseur of horror, but I've been desensitized quite a bit over the years and Evil Dead still managed to shock, horrify, and gross me out.  There's a moment near the climax of the film that made my horror-film-tough-as-nails friend squirm like a baby.  From a bystander's view the overt and incredibly graphic violence may seem unwarranted and wanton, but I assure you that it, for the most part, is in service of the narrative and isn't there just to shock and disturb.  I mean, a flipping demon is possessing people, after all!

The story is a fairly predictable one with a just a few surprising twists.  People go to a cabin.  Hippie guy finds evil book.  Hippie guy stupidly reads from said book (seriously though, how dumb do you have to be to open a human-flesh-bound book that's wrapped in barbed wire, flip past the pages that warn "never speak it," "never read it," and then proceed to SPEAK AND READ it!  "It" being an incantation of sorts that calls forth the aforementioned demon lady).  Demon shows up.  Demon possesses people.  Possessed people do incredibly gruesome and violent things to themselves and one another.  People die.  Credits.  Like I said, it's a pretty cut-and-dry horror story line that seems fairly derivative of other cabin-in-the-woods style films, especially after last year's fantastic The Cabin in the Woods, which tongue-in-cheekedly played off of the same stereotypical horror-film tropes that Evil Dead has in spades.

While I don't think I'll be watching this film again any time soon, I enjoyed it immensely.  While the plot beats may not have been overly original and the characters fairly bland and one-dimensional, the action is superb, the violence is shockingly realistic (seriously, the practical effects on display show a mastery of the art of fake-butchering people), and the lead performance by Jane Levy is incredibly intense and utterly convincing. I applaud relative newcomer Fede Alvarez for taking insane risks and not pulling any punches; Evil Dead will punch you in the face with its shocking violence, gore, and sheer dearth of humor.

I just have to throw one last thing out there: parents, please don't even remotely entertain the idea of taking or allowing anyone under 17/18 to see this movie.  In my screening there was an adult with three or four young children, ranging from probably 7-10.  I literally could not stop thinking about this throughout the entire film.  I mean, "fuck" is said probably five times in the first few minutes, which also includes a live burning of a girl possessed by the demon, ending with her head being blown off by a shotgun.  And those are the tamer aspects of the film.  I just couldn't believe it.

Evil Dead will (most likely) shock, scare, and stress you out...but is totally worth it.

The Bearded Bullet

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