Evil Dead (2013)
Urugyan writer and director Fede Alvarez obviously has a great deal of passion for the horror genre and certainly understands it a lot better than may other mainstream film makers. Make no mistake, Evil Dead is an extremely hard R rated movie and is certainly not like the usual tame studio output we see so often these days. There is also an emphasis on physical effects rather than CGI. The film also endeavours to re-invent the movies iconic plot to avoid a scene-by-scene retread of Sam Raimi's original. The idea of a groups of friends electing to stay somewhere isolated to help one of the group go "cold turkey", is a clever one. Perhaps the smartest thing the production does is the removal of the character Ash. Replacing someone such as Bruce Campbell is virtually impossible.
They say that the road to hell is paved with good intentions, because despite all its positive points, Evil Dead still manages to fall short of the mark. Don't get me wrong, this is far from a poor film. It will meet a lot of horror fan’s needs, especially those looking for a fix of hardcore gore. It's just that once again we see that there’s a fine line between fandom and homage as opposed to what is in fact just a fan service by someone who is a little too close to the subject they love. Sadly, Evil Dead leans towards the latter to its detriment. There is an unnecessary prologue, Fede Alvarez and Rodo Sayagues screenplay falls very flat and the performances seem strained. Overall there is too much focus on production values, rather than the strong character interaction.
Violence and profanity are just two of the many tools a film maker has at their disposal. The key to using them effectively is to do so in a pertinent fashion that validates their presence. Watching something unpleasant happen to a character that you relate to in some capacity, has a great deal of impact. Viewing clinically accurate effects work, just for the sake of it, without the benefit of a wider context is less effective and possibly the biggest school boy mistakes you can make in the horror genre. When you consider the lengths that cinematographer Aaron Morton has gone to makes the woods in which Evil Dead is set in, seem genuinely malevolent, it is a shame that the atmosphere was not more directly linked to the physical on-screen horror.
Overall this reboot of Evil Dead has far more in common with the works of Eli Roth rather than Sam Raimi. Glimpses of invention and originality are ultimately lost in the frenetic third act when the focus shifts from suspense and horror to mayhem and mutilation. The joy of being scared is replaced with the challenge of enduring the repulsive. As the movie didn’t meet its full potential a new franchise did not materialise. The 2015 Starz TV show Ash vs Evil Dead further put pay to any further cinematic outings. Some degree of praise should be given to all concerned for at least trying to buck the current movie trend. Evil Dead has at least had the courage to try and please the traditional horror market rather than simply court the most commercially viable demographic.