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Apr 29, 2013

Hard Rock Nipples

In all my recent experiences of seeing horror films in the cinema, I canít say I've actually seen somebody in a state of fear. I've seen and heard people jump and scream, but that is then usually followed by laughter. Often these people and myself leave the cinema smiling. This is not a bad thing, but it is a far cry from 1973, when The Exorcist had people running from the cinema. This means that people actually felt some sort of real fear when watching The Exorcist whereas today audiences just seem to have fun.

Comparing the new Evil Dead to The Exorcist is a completely unfair comparison, but I bring it up for a reason. At no point in watching this new Evil Dead can I say I was actually scared, but I did enjoy myself.

One reason people often give for why horror movies donít seem be scary anymore is how desensitised people are. They are correct to an extent; none of the extreme gore in this made me do more than avert my eyes briefly. But the problem there is that the film is relying on gore. Gore in of itself will never be scary by itself. If used after sufficient build-up on characters we care or know about then gore can be extremely effective, Audition of 1999 to give one example.

However this ties into why I think horror movies [or the genre in general] rarely scares people anymore. Good horror movies are not made good by their horror in the same way action movies are not made good by their action. Die Hard is generally considered one of best, if not the best [nothing can hold the title], action movies ever made. However when people talk about why that film is so good, nobody says ďOh that bit when he shoots a guy through a table makes the film.Ē The action scenes enhance the movie of course, and they couldn't be removed [replaced perhaps] but they alone donít make it exceptional. The characters and the story do. The same can be said for The Exorcist. If it was scene after scene of a demonic little girl doing messed up stuff with no story or character behind it, the film likely not be as successful as it was.

This is why Evil Dead was never going to be great from the get go, as like so many other horror films it put all its effort into gore and effects, which granted were good, rather than its plot and characters.

From the first time you see the charactersí faces or hear their first word you know who they are going to be, as you have likely already seen them in other movies. In Evil Dead they are as follows:

Main Character Female

Attractive Male

Attractive Female

Smart Male

Bitchy Female

Evil Deadís cast is made better than most with the addition of a dog and the omission of a Jock or Slut character. Evil Deadís characters are also better than most in another way, as the film actually tries to give them character beyond their stereotype.

The group are not in the cabin because they are on holiday or because their car breaks down, but rather as the Main Character female is trying to kick her drug addiction. Attractive Male has a past of running away from his problems and Smart Male resents Attractive Male for leaving him when they were obviously good friends.

While these are most definitely positives, these positives do come with their own problems. The reason I refer to their roles rather than the characterís name is because although it is only 3 hours since I saw the film, I canít tell you a single one of their names.

The film tries to make its charactersí compelling due to their past rather than actual personality. I can tell you the characterís past, and therefore also some of their motivation, but I canít really tell you their character. Having a background does not translate into personality.

In the original Evil Dead trilogy we learnt next to nothing about Ashís past. But he is still a fantastic character. We learn to like him through his dialogue and how he acts. Ash has a personality the viewer can be attracted to, in the same way you are attracted to Han Soloís roguish charm because of his roguish charm, not because of something significant that happened between him and his father when he was twelve. That said, the characters in the recent Evil Dead do have some moments of personality, but these are sadly just pastiches or references to the original trilogy, ones that you would expect to see.

Characters having a past is of course not a bad thing, some plots are entirely based of them. Memento for example. The plot is about Leonard Shelby trying to find out about his past, however he still has a personality beyond this. Characters having a past is not always necessary and if that is all the character has then the character will likely fail to be compelling, as the characters in Evil Dead did.

Evil Dead giving their characterís a past still makes them far better than characters you will find in modern horror though. There was clear effort put into the characters to make them something more than boring stereotypes, and while it failed for the most part the attempt still makes it in the upper echelon of recent horror.

This ties into why I still like the new Evil Dead despite its short comings. I could go on about the many contrived plot problems and how the characters act stupidly, however in both cases it was not often or obvious enough to make me dislike the movie.

Even though Smart Male reads and studies the evil book because smart people like books this is a problem that comes from it being a remake of story in which that happens (This is not necessarily a defense, but rather a reason why this movie shouldn't have been remade). There are a few more cases similar to the ones above, but for the most part the film sets up its plot points in earlier moments and you donít feel as though everything you are seeing is contrived and that the charactersí are complete idiots. This again implies effort.

Some aspects of the direction I also enjoyed. Some of the images conjured in the film would be scary out of context as still images and effects such as the blood rain all look great and are impressive on a technical level. The direction was also oddly sexual, more so than the original at least. Despite everything that was happening there were erotic upwards shots of chests and asses and also a lot of things going into vaginas, none of them penises. This gives the film some much needed personality. Again, effort.

I keep bringing up effort because the makers of this movie didn't need to put any in. Evil Dead is a name people have heard, so they could have just slapped anything together with that name on it and likely have made a profit. However unlike most remakes they didn't. They bothered to try to write actual characters, they set up their plot, they made their direction interesting.

Judging from producer Bruce Campbellís twitter he was very enthusiastic about the movie. It is obvious that he,Fede Alvarez, and everybody else involved wanted to make a movie that fans of the original would enjoy, but also something that would stand on its own. They actually wanted to make a good movie rather than a cynical cash grab. While I think they failed to make a movie that would actually bring someone to fear, and failed somewhat in many of other departments, I do feel as though they were successful for the most part in making something enjoyable. Not something that can be said for most horror movies nowadays.


Brother_Walken fucked around with this message at Jul 15, 2013 around 02:08


Jan 21, 2001
Can't post for 2 hours!

The 2013 Evil Dead remake unapologetically flaunts its old-school horror sensibilities without making any concessions for modern audiences. Right from the start we are thrust into a grisly ceremony involving backwoods witchcraft with the cast of Deliverance. The movie builds from that opening scene, ratcheting up the tension without letting up. It unfortunately descends into a splatter schlockfest at the end, but that is to be expected considering the source material.

Fede Alvarez, the young Uruguayan director hand-picked by Sam Raimi based on his 4 minute YouTube video, does a great job here. He keeps a tight focus on the best parts of the original - the gruesome splatter effects, the central conceit of people trapped in an isolated cabin accidentally unleashing ancient evil. I was never a fan Bruce Campbellís lantern-jawed catchphrase-spouting hero and, thankfully, there is no direct analogue to that character here.

The remote cabin in the woods looks more like a dilapidated shack set in the middle of a decaying forest where ancient half-rotted tree trunks are shrouded in ever-present mist. Great effects, excellent set design and a superb score that works to elevate the general madness.

If you watch only one movie where a group of pretty young twenty-somethings are possessed by the devil and mutilate each other into hamburger meat, make it this one. Excellent remake of the original classic.


Jul 7, 2006

This movie is not about being original. It's about creating a certain sub-genre of horror with the care and meticulousness of a fan. Instead of seeking to break out of horror tropes it attempts to give it to you in the best way, with no CGI, catering to a niche crowd. If you love this genre you will definitely appreciate it, if you are not a horror fan I don't think it will impress you. I don't claim to be a fan of the genre myself but I did still think it was well done.


sleeptides fucked around with this message at Jun 2, 2015 around 05:51

Nov 15, 2005

Haj Paj

Not my favorite Evil Dead, but good and a bit more polished.

Also, if you watch all the Evil Dead movies in a one night movie marathon, Ash becomes a serial killer with a thing for feeding Lindas to his demon cabin. The final movie in the Evil Dead remakes becomes the continuation of the ritual through Ash's offspring.


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