Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Movies That Suck: Evil Dead (2013)

                                           *Warning - Contains Spoilers*
I recently watched the 2013 reboot of the Sam Raimi horror classic Evil Dead. The remake was widely marketed as “the most terrifying film you will ever experience” (which I knew going in was unlikely to be accurate since I had already seen Twilight on two occasions) so I prepared myself for a visceral thriller that would shake the very foundations of my sanity. What I actually experienced was a humorless gore-fest that delivered clichéd one-liners without a hint of irony all while avoiding any semblance of logical behavior.

Part of the original’s charm was the tongue-in-cheek manner in which the events were portrayed. One suspects that was due in equal parts to the creativity necessitated by a limited budget and the imagination of the talented crew.

What makes a film frightening is the degree to which the viewer can live vicariously through the characters. The more likely we are to find ourselves in the situations faced by the protagonist the more likely we are to be unnerved and frightened by what they experience.

In the film’s opening scene we are presented with a young girl whose very soul has been possessed by a demon so vile it has caused her to murder her own mother. In order to save her soul, her father must burn her alive in the presence of a rather unattractive group of locals and a few dozen dead cats. 

We are told that this entire unfortunate series of events can be attributed to a single nefarious book and the contents thereof. Obviously, having just experienced a horrifying supernatural phenomenon, they take meticulous steps to insure that the book cannot harm anyone again. I’m just kidding. They wrap a Hefty sack around it, festoon it with barbed wire and then leave it on the reading desk surrounded by enough decaying feline carcasses to draw the attention of every scavenger in the tri-state area.

It is at this same location a group of college students arrive (somehow managing to navigate a front-wheel drive station wagon through an active creek barely  passable in a Jeep Wrangler) to assist a young woman in her attempt to overcome heroin addiction. In short order they discover the book, recite its incantations, and immediately begin drawing illogical conclusions from the events that follow. All of this unfolds in an abandoned remote cabin that, despite having no discernible power source, is able to provide ample electricity and powered kitchen utensils when the story requires it.

The heroin addict is the first to be possessed by the demon which causes her to deliver cringe worthy lines such as “I can smell your filthy soul!” in a voice that sounds like Henry Rollins produced by T-Pain. Each character is then subjected to increasingly gruesome injuries at the behest of the evil spirit, but none fares worse than the bespectacled Greg Allman doppelganger responsible for unleashing the wicked forces currently afflicted them. He is impaled through the heart with a shard of jagged glass, repeatedly stabbed in the face, neck, and cornea by a hypodermic needle, shot repeatedly with a pneumatic nail gun and then viciously beaten with a steel crowbar. After that his luck runs out.

In the end, the demon is defeated by judicious use of a chainsaw and expressionless delivery of the line, “feast on this motherf*****!” This inadvertently made the most outrageous aspect of the film the fact that it is possible to start a derelict chainsaw on severely degraded fuel in the pouring rain. There are people with chainsaws in climate-controlled lockers who wouldn’t expect that level of dependability from their power tools.

Try as I might, I was unable to recover from the lack of concern shown to hiding the book in the film’s opening scene. If a single artifact was capable of inciting this level of misery and destruction I might put a little more effort into preventing its reemergence. At least put the dust jacket for David Hasselhoff’s autobiography on the outside cover so that other people are unlikely to open it. Such common courtesy should be a no-brainer.

There was also the question of which human behaviors were symptoms of opium withdrawal and which were the result of demonic possession. Even the registered nurse appeared flummoxed when asked if melting one’s skin off while threatening the souls your companions was a normal part of cold turkey. As a layperson with only Anthony Keidis’s Scar Tissue and repeated viewings of VH1’s Celebrity Rehab to guide me, I can assure you these are not common side effects.

This film is rated R for gratuitous illogical behavior, misrepresentation of a late 90’s Ford Taurus Wagon and a scene of sexual assault perpetrated by shrubbery.

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