If I have one giant pet peeve in any narrative story, it’s when smart people do really dumb things to help advance the plot. Sometimes I can turn my brain off and forgive certain things, but not when the entire plot of your film is predicated on bad mistakes. In a recent IO9 article, they asked Bruce Campbell about the secrets of great film-making. He responded
“I think horror movies are better if people give a shit, and make a decent movie. I feel like there’s lazy film-makers in general out there. I [would like] a little more industrious film-making, please. I just think they need to work a little harder, pay attention, and don’t treat audiences like they’re stupid.”
I wish director Fede Alvarez would have followed that basic rule in making this film. To be fair Evil Dead isn’t all bad. It has some great moments in the middle of the flick, but the beginning and the end surpass my ability to suspend disbelief.
The plot of this remake revolves around five young adults taking a trip to a cabin in the woods so one of them kick a bad drug habit by going cold turkey. Once they are all at the cabin, they discover that it had been broken into, and slightly vandalized. After a trip into the cellar they find a book that unleashes a demon bent on destroying the world once it has all five of their souls. This alone was kind of a cool idea for a plot. Once the drug addict starts to have issues detoxing, you can see why she might start to see weird things, or claim crazy events are happening just to get the hell out of the woods and back to her stash.
In the season 3 Halloween episode of Community, Abed goes on a pretty good rant about stupid people in horror films that deliberately put themselves in danger. The story isn’t scary because the characters make choices the audience wouldn’t make. Evil Dead unfortunately falls victim to this mistake. Here’s a multiple choice question for the general audience that might be a bit spoilery.
You walk into the cabin you own, that had been broken into. Upon entering a cellar you see blood everywhere, and about 50 cats skinned and hanging from the ceiling. Further back into the basement (who through the filed of dead hanging cats?!?!?) you find a shotgun that doesn’t belong to you, and something covered in a trash bag and barbwire. Do you:
- A) Call the cops
- B) Leave the cabin immediately because you don’t know if the people who broke in would come back.
- C) Both A and B
- D) Decide to stay the night, and clean the cats up in the morning, and find out whats in the barbwire wrapped bag.
If you chose D, than Evil Dead is right up your alley. If you chose anything else, than you will be heavily annoyed by this film. The idea that one of your characters already has a reason to freak out because she’s detoxing is enough. The other characters would have slowly started to question whether it was the drugs leaving her system, or something more sinister.
Despite all of that, there are some good parts of this film. There were genuine scary moments that unsettled me at times. They took some of the horrific moments that looked kind of goofy in the original films, and turned them into moments I had a hard time watching. My girlfriend turned away from the screen several times because she couldn’t watch the level of gore in Evil Dead. I probably turned away once or twice myself. The entire middle of the film was pretty decent. I was almost willing to overlook the poor beginning all the way up until the climax, which I won’t spoil, but it had some ridiculous moments. The climax kind of felt like something out of the original Evil Dead films, but it didn’t fit well with the rest of the movie which took it self a lot more serious in tone.
Overall I’d say you should skip this film. Just pretend it doesn’t exist, and go back and enjoy the other Evil Dead films. If you do see this film, then I recommend you skip the first 20-30 minutes, and sit through the credits for a small stinger that might make you feel a little bit better.