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Anthology of Interest: Evil Dead

Release Date: April 8, 2013
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Jane Levy as Mia

I suppose nowadays it’s not a horror film unless someone cuts her own arm off with an electric bread knife.

Evil Dead puts five college-aged kids in a cabin in the woods. Mia (Jane Levy) has a wicked heroin addiction, and her withdrawal causes tension in the group early in the movie. Soon, one of the kids finds a book bound with human skin and riddled with warnings, and all hell breaks loose after the dumbest supporting character of all time reads aloud one of the book’s ominous incantations. Blood is spilled, faces are mutilated, and limbs are lost as a mysterious demonic force possesses the kids one by one.

There seems to be a revived interest in classic horror movies. We saw a remake of John Carpenter’s The Thing (1982) two years ago, and last year’s The Cabin in the Woods. These remakes walk a fine line between homage and originality. Evil Dead doesn’t quite measure up to either requirement – there are lots of references to the original Bruce Campbell legend, like possessed hands, chainsaws, MSU sweatshirts, and buried girlfriends, but those references are never used in an interesting way. They’re just kind of “there.” As far as originality goes, the plot is exactly the same as the original Evil Dead from 1981.

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Bruce Campbell from the original Evil Dead

But even with these problems, this film might have been good if not for the lack of balance between horror and humor. Sam Raimi is a master of the “gross-out hyper-realistic B-movie” genre. He’s filmed some of the goriest scenes in cinema, but knows that when it’s taken too far, the scene goes from entertaining to nauseating. Ash, one of the greatest protagonists in movie history, gets literally drenched in fake blood. He then proceeds to go insane. This scene should be disturbing, but instead of being overly dramatic, Raimi made it easy to laugh at. It’s entertainment at its finest.

This newer Evil Dead completely lacks humor, mostly due to the seriousness with which the actors take the material. Instead of realizing how ridiculous the plot is and loosening up, they maintain a constant mood of depression and suffering. That’s fine for the really crazy scenes, but it gets old after a while.

I went to see this with Josh and Maria – they paid for me (score!). But even with the free ticket, I feel robbed. Instead of watching this, rent the entire original Evil Dead series or The Cabin in the Woods.