Evil Dead (R)

 

Movie Info

Rating: **

Cast: Jane Levy, Shiloh Fernandez, Lou Taylor Pucci, Jessica Lucas, Elizabeth Blackmore.

Director: Fede Alvarez.

Screenwriters: Fede Alvarez, Rodo Sayagues.

Producers: Bruce Campbell, Sam Raimi, Robert G. Tapert.

A TriStar Pictures release. Running time: 91 minutes. Vulgar language, supernatural rape, extreme violence and enough gore to make you wonder how this movie ever got an ‘R’ rating. Playing at area theaters.


rrodriguez@MiamiHerald.com

When The Evil Dead invaded movie theaters in 1983, it detonated an atomic bomb on a stale horror-film genre overrun by masked killers and teen slashers. Made on a tiny budget, sporting Stephen King’s personal seal of approval and released unrated for its violence, the movie launched the careers of actor Bruce Campbell ( Burn Notice), director Sam Raimi ( Spider-Man) and producer Robert G. Tapert (TV’s Spartacus: War of the Damned). Watching it in a theater was a riotous experience: The audience screamed and laughed and gasped in shock at the situations these unknown filmmakers had conjured up, making Freddy and Jason and Michael seem like schoolyard wimps.

Now comes the remake, more plainly titled Evil Dead, which ups the violence and gore and craziness but still feels strangely quaint. This is not merely another rip-off reboot of an established classic, like the recent A Nightmare on Elm Street and Texas Chainsaw Massacre redos. Campbell, Raimi and Tapert were all closely involved with the project, and first-time director Fede Alvarez, who hails from Uruguay, has a strong visual style and a taste for the gruesome. He knows how to compose beautiful, nightmarish visuals. He pays clever homage to the original without imitating it slavishly, and he has higher production values and a bigger budget, which means all the more blood to splash across the screen.

So why isn’t there a single good scare in the entire film? This is not a matter of being overly familiar with the first film: Alvarez has made enough changes to make the movie his own, beginning with an actual premise other than good-looking college students partying in the woods. Mia (Jane Levy) is a drug addict trying to get clean, so she invites her brother David (Shiloh Fernandez) and some of their friends to her parents’ cabin to support her as she goes through the painful process of withdrawal.

Soon, though, Mia is looking like Linda Blair in The Exorcist and telling her pals they’re all going to die there. They think she’s going through some scary jonesing and lock her in a cellar. Curiously, Eric (Lou Taylor Pucci) forgets to tell anyone he found a book bound in human skin, sealed with barbed wire and illustrated with demonic drawings which he opened and read out loud, even though it wasn’t even written in English, summoning some ancient evil force.

If you saw last year’s genre-deconstruction The Cabin in the Woods, Eric’s book-reading will make you think of Sigourney Weaver. You will think of her several times after that, too, which doesn’t help Evil Dead in the fright department. The characters are interchangeable and don’t even seem to like each other much, which makes it hard to care when they start dying.

The main selling point of the 1983 version was the incredible gore, the over-the-top acting, the ingenious effects and its warped sense of humor. But the new Evil Dead contains none of those things. It’s a dour, humorless movie, and although it’s 100 times bloodier, it still got away with an R (even the squeamish ratings board wasn’t impressed). Evil Dead isn’t actively bad, like so many current horror remakes are, and it contains images that stay with you (including one long shot near the end involving a chainsaw). But the movie is low on energy and thrills. It lacks the exuberance of the original, and it doesn’t creep you out, either. It’s a horror movie made by a director who obviously loves the genre, but can’t do much other than imitate. The Evil Dead was an absolute blast. Evil Dead is just a well-made gross-out.

Read more Reeling with Rene Rodriguez stories from the Miami Herald

  •  
 <span class="cutline_leadin">What’s the secret?</span> Karen Gillan and Brenton Thwaites are a brother and sister trying to solve the mystery of a demonic mirror in ‘Oculus.’

    Oculus (R)

    Mirrors have been as much of a fixture in horror movies as knives and cats that suddenly jump from the shadows. But they’re best in cameos, as in the ending of Dressed to Kill or the bathroom scene in The Shining. Oculus revolves entirely around an ornate mirror that is, what, a gateway to hell? A summoning force for evil spirits? A really ugly piece of furniture from a medieval Pottery Barn?

  •  
Iko Uwais and Cecep Arif Rahman square off in a scene from ‘The Raid 2.’

    The Raid 2 (R)

    Every time you think The Raid 2 can’t possibly top itself, writer-director Gareth Evans goes “Oh, yeah? Watch this.” Most of 2011’s The Raid: Redemption took place inside a tenement raided by a SWAT team to apprehend a mobster and his squad of killers holed up inside. Practically no one survived the movie — the violence was astonishing — but the contained setting and the idea of having events grow hairier for the good guys the higher they went in the building gave the tight 101-minute movie a sense of compressed, relentless action. Now comes The Raid 2 (known as The Raid 2: Bernadal in its native Indonesia), which is far more expansive and complicated, and runs almost 2 ½ hours. Miraculously, the new picture makes the old one feel like Evans was just warming up.

  •  
A sexual addict (Charlotte Gainsbourg) visits a therapist (Jamie Bell) with unorthodox methods to try to help get over her compulsion in ‘Nymphomaniac: Vol. 2’

    NYMPHOMANIAC VOL. 2 (unrated)

    Nymphomaniac Vol. 2 (unrated)

    Things get really kinky in Nymphomaniac Vol. 2, the second chapter in director Lars von Trier’ epic-length saga about a woman who can’t get enough. If you saw Vol. 1, which ended with our perpetually horny heroine Joe (Charlotte Gainsbourg) losing all feeling in her sexual organs, you might be wondering, “How could this movie outdo the first one?” To quote the great Bachman-Turner Overdrive, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet.

Miami Herald

Join the
Discussion

The Miami Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

The Miami Herald uses Facebook's commenting system. You need to log in with a Facebook account in order to comment. If you have questions about commenting with your Facebook account, click here.

Have a news tip? You can send it anonymously. Click here to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Miami Herald and el Nuevo Herald.

Hide Comments

This affects comments on all stories.

Cancel OK

  • Marketplace

Today's Circulars

  • Quick Job Search

Enter Keyword(s) Enter City Select a State Select a Category