Saturday, April 6, 2013

The Cabin in the Woods: Evil Dead (2013)

I suppose Sam Raimi’s Evil Dead (1981) is clever in a low-budget sort of way. It’s a good movie for amateur filmmakers to watch. They can get ideas for employing simple devices to create an effect. They can also bolster their confidence by observing that they could probably do a better job than some of the shots and editing in this film. In one sense, the film is so bad it’s good. In my opinion, it’s so bad it’s boring.

Whatever Fede Alvarez’s remake of Evil Dead is, and I am still pondering how to describe it, it is definitely not boring. One thing for sure, the acting is much better, and that moves things along much more expeditiously. Another thing for sure, it may not be the scariest movie you’ve ever seen, but it is definitely one of the goriest – and painfully so. Watching, I didn’t jump in fright so much as I winced in vicarious pain as the possessed Mia (Jane Levy) slices her tongue in two along the edge of a blade, as Olivia (Jessica Lucas of Cloverfield) slices her cheek ("Why so serious!"), as Natalie (Elizabeth Blackmore) cuts off her arm with an electric carving knife, as Eric (Lou Taylor Pucci) pulls a hypodermic needle out from under his eye (Le Chien Andalou!), or as David (Shiloh Fernandez) gets shot with nails from a nail gun. Ouch!

Not fun, but there’s some fun in identifying and predicting the later use of the weapons and potential weapons that appear at first as innocuous props: the dusty old shotgun; the electric carving knife (as if 20-somethings would use one to carve a roast – as if modern 20-somethings would serve rare roast beef for dinner!); and the industrial-sized nail gun (to repair a small wooden cabin!?).

As for blood, there are buckets of it, so much that the film goes so far beyond disgusting that it paralyzes your ability to be disgusted. Wow! We subject ourselves to that for entertainment? Interesting. But, I have to say, I found the movie quite suspenseful. I was on the edge of my seat because I wanted one of the hapless young people to get away, one of the dumbies stupidly spending the weekend in a moldy cabin in the woods that has dead cats hanging in the cellar and a book of ancient demon-craft bound with human skin wrapped up in barbed wire clearly indicating that it should not be opened.

Yes, the film is suspenseful, as the demon from hell inexorably pursues the resurrected Mia and she fumbles to get a chainsaw started (the demons can be offed by 1) live burial, 2) burning, and 3) dismemberment), suspenseful until Mia gets her arm stuck under the Jeep (as if the soggy ground is firm enough to pin her hand against the weight of the vehicle) with the chainsaw just out of reach, and then the editing is ponderous, the suspense is ruined, and all we're left with is geysers of blood. "Feast on this!"

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