Thursday Night Movie Club
Evil Dead (2013)
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Release Date: 5 April 2013

Director: Fede Alvarez
Jane Levy
Shiloh Fernandez
Lou Taylor Pucci
Jessica Lucas
Elizabeth Blackmore
Phoenix Connolly
Jim McLarty
Sian Davis
Stephen Butterworth
Karl Willetts
Randal Wilson
Rupert Degas
Bob Dorian
Ellen Sandweiss
Old Woman
Toothless Redneck
Long Haired Redneck
Abomination Mia
Demon (voice)
Professor Knowby (voice)
Cheryl (voice)
Grandpa the Dog
Evil Dead (2013) movie poster Evil Dead (2013) movie poster Evil Dead (2013) movie poster
Shiloh Fernandez and Jane Levy in Evil DeadEvil Dead is terrifying! The sheer volume of blood, guts and gore is frightening. Other than that, the film is rather straight forward. There is no humor what so ever. There are some frightening moments, but overall, this is not edge-of-your-seat suspense and horror.

A cute innocent teenager finds herself chained to a pillar in a darkened room. She is surrounded by a "Dick Tracy-esque" rogues gallery led by a demented older woman chanting passages from a mysterious book. The young woman is pleading and begging her father to let her go. The father almost relents before dousing his daughter in gasoline. The frightened girl pleads harder knowing the end is near. When the father strikes a match, the girl's face changes into a demon. She begins cursing the father. The father promptly burns his possessed daughter thus saving her soul. This is the foreshadowing element to explain the rest of the movie.

Evil Dead is based upon the cult classic "The Evil Dead (1981)" written and directed by Sam Raimi. Five twenty-something, somewhat friends, venture into the woods. Mia (Jane Levy) is coping with drug addiction. Her brother David (Shiloh Fernandez) takes Mia to the family cabin where Mia will be forced to go cold-turkey and quit her additction once and for all.

Lou Taylor Pucci as Eric in Evil DeadShortly thereafter, the friends discover a trap door and begin to explore. Obviously, these kids have never seen a horror movie. Never go into the cellar! Dead animals abound hanging from the rafters. One of the support pillars is scorched black. Someone has been using the cellar for some nefarious purpose. Instead of leaving immediately and contacting the authorities, the five decide to stick it out just to help Mia, never mind the strangers using the cabin may come back at any moment.

The cellar holds a much darker secret. Sitting out in plain sight for anyone to find is a package wrapped in plastic and bound with barbed wire. Christmas comes early or someone just hit the lotto! Who in their right mind would NOT open a package so invitingly disguised. If the contents of this package were truly dangerous, the last person who wrapped the package would have buried the thing in the middle of God-foresaken nowhere.

Phoenix Connolly in Evil DeadCuriosity killed the cat so Eric (Lou Taylor Pucci) promptly unwraps the package to discover a mysterious book. "Do not read from the book!", seems like good advice to anyone who sees the cryptic language and unsettling imagery. No harm every came from reading a book! Eric smartly uses a pencil and paper to make some rubbings from the book, then he promptly goes brain dead and reads the passage aloud thus awakening an evil, dead spirit in the woods. The evil comes for them one by one.

Connoisseurs of horror films will have no trouble guessing who is the first person possessed. Yep, none other than "drug-addict-gone-coldturkey" Mia. No one suspects anything evil as Mia grows stranger and more violent. It's just withdrawals. Evil Dead rapidly spirals into gorier, bloodier extravaganza when Mia passes on the evil within by vomiting blood all over Olivia (Jessica Lucas). When Olivia shows signs of possession, the three remaining friends realize that they are in a whole heap o'trouble.

Problems abound in the making of Evil Dead. There is nothing new, fresh or unexpected in the film. There are the standard close up shots that reveal something just behind one of the actors. A mirror slowly closes to show the person's reflection has changed into a demonic figure. Not even the dog is safe. The dog smells out the trapdoor so the following mayhem is the dog's fault. The dog gets it first! A smart dog would have sensed the growing evil and skedaddled into the woods or hid under the car. As Sherlock Holmes once commented, "I am referring to the curious event of the dog in the night!" But Holmes, the dog didn't do anything in the night." "That is the curious event!"

Elizabeth Blackmore as Natalie in Evil DeadThe five main characters, acting talents aside, are the biggest group of dysfunctional idiots since Seinfeld. The evil demon is equally inept. Evil can't beat these idiots at its own game. Sheesh! These friends had a major falling out in the past. They all bear grudges larger than the Grand Canyon. Nobility forces them to come together, bury the hatchet as it were, to help Mia. Not one of the five has a single redeeming quality. When the mayhem is at its full, blood-letting, violent best, there is no one in whom the audience can identify with and hope he or she survives the night.

Evil Dead is further hindered by being an updated version of a cult classic. In the original, a chainsaw plays a prominent "role". Here, it is just a waiting game for the inevitable chain saw to appear. Writer/director Fede Alvarez keeps the surprises coming by having more than one person lose a limb. Who will be the one to wield the fateful chain saw in the final, climactic moment. The final act of salvation is not a rousing, jump-up-and-cheer moment.

Evil Natalie in Evil DeadThere is not a single humorous moment in Evil Dead. Humor is a great film element to lighten the tone and thus render the coming shocks more frightening. Like the characters in the film, the constant barrage of carnage wears down the audience. Imagine a roller coaster that only goes in one direction... down a straight track. The initial terror is replaced by numbness. A change of pace is always a good idea in a horror film to prevent sensory overload.

Try this on for size: As Eric reads from the book, the camera zooms through the woods depicting the evil coming to the cabin. When Eric reads the final word, the zooming camera suddenly stops... on the face of the demon who looks straight into the camera and shrieks, "I'll rip your hearts out mother fuckers!" Cut to the cabin where the dog pricks up its ears. The dog wails and moans, scratching at the door to get out. David opens the door and the dog promptly runs down the road and disappears in the woods. David asks, "Where does he think he's going?" Eric replies, "When you gott go, you gotta go." There you have it. Scary and funny in about a minute of film time.

Evil Dead is not the most terrifying film you will ever experience, it is not astonishing, nor is it a near perfect experience as the ad campaign says. The film is not a stinker, it doesn't suck. Evil Dead just isn't very good, or interesting, or funny, or scary, or exciting, or... well, it's OK at best.