There’s something to be said for Evil Dead’s full-tilt embrace of gore. While many supposedly graphic films cut away at disturbing moments, writer/director Fede Alvarez keeps his camera focused on the mayhem with commendable dedication. The approach is often enough to distract one from the film’s poor acting and dialogue, a weakness far more apparent in the story’s largely bloodless build-up. Once the terror begins to rain down, however, the longer the craziness is maintained, the better.
The re-imagining of Sam Raimi’s 1981 DIY horror classic again has five young adults head to a remote forested property. Instead of mere vacation, this crew is there to help their friend Mia (Jane Levy) kick drugs, an end to which they have previously been unsuccessful. Either doused with Cabin in the Woods meta-film pheromones or clueless of horror movie tenets, they progressively violate the laws of self-preservation, culminating in Eric (Lou Taylor Pucci) reading from the flesh-covered Book of the Dead. What follows amounts to about the worst (or, perhaps, best) cold turkey possible and certainly one of the bloodiest.
As Evil Dead’s demonic forces possess Mia and take down her entourage one by one, the red stuff flows freely, often paired with other bodily fluids. There’s constantly something ready to jump out, accompanied by a jarring loud noise to heighten the horror and mercilessly no “it was just a cat” false alarms. Such steady terror is all but necessary with Alvarez’s tin ear for dialogue and a cast unable to do much besides bleed and scream. Their buffoonish commentary on the situation, especially those of Mia’s brother David (Shiloh Fernandez), don’t exactly warrant the resultant excess of severed limbs, nail gun attacks, and various other mutilations, but the steady combat against the undead is far preferred to hearing these morons speak.
Many of these images have been seen in the more violent zombie films and the Hostel franchise, but Alvarez manages to string them together in such a passionate manner that his film frequently pops with freshness. The intensity and sheer moviemaking joy on display is strangely alluring and crescendos to new levels of insanity in its final 15 minutes. During these sustained mad scientist moments, reality fades to a whisper as an exciting new filmmaking voice sees how far he can push the boundaries of this genre. The results are exciting in the way that only hyperbole can attain, but to say that much of it is truly enjoyable would be a stretch.
Rated R for strong bloody violence and gore, some sexual content and language.
Evil Dead is currently playing at the Carolina Cinemas on Hendersonville Rd.