Visceral, I only wish the actors were better. Evil Dead is a vomitorium of horror featuring not only non-stop evisceration of body parts but also – hold your breath – a thematic point. Mid-twenties Mia (Jane Levy) has been bottoming out as an unfeasible drug addict for several years. Her friends, and brother David (Shiloh Fernandez), have taken her to a cabin in the forest to contain her until she’s overcome the withdrawal period. Eric (Lou Taylor Pucci, scruffy beard guy) curiously reads from the Book of the Dead found in the basement which unleashes demons that can possess the human body, and force victims into self-mutilation and murder of others. There isn’t bloody wacko tongue-in-cheek humor like the 1980’s Sam Raimi movies. This is serious uncompromising depravity horror filmmaking.
This new version by young Fede Alvarez has been made with a classical craftsmanship that is all too rare in horror today. Meaning, less to none jerky hand-held, no speed-up razzmatazz editing “Saw” style, no dreadful slo-mo, no crummy digitized special effects. Tobe Hooper, a young Wes Craven, or even Roman Polanski seem to be Alvarez’s influences. The film gains from its use of strong visual impressions, and depends more on grab your throat dread than the viscera violence actually.
I could go on to tell you descriptions of the distinctive acts of bloodshed and blood-gushing. I could tell you the new “Evil Dead” is one of the most disgusting movies of all time. Instead, I’ll point to two purposes that makes it less than a gratuitous geek show. One, the dungy cabin as a location is a potent metaphor for the difficulty and anguish of leading a friend through sobriety. To help Mia, they have to unwantedly join her in the kind of squalor the rest of us would rather never know about.
Second, the entire film can be viewed in the guise of a nightmare, the worse bloodiest nightmare you’ve never had. In such films as “Eraserhead,” “Body Double” or the last section of “Brazil,” translating the goings-on as normal reality was not applicable. They are among the closest cinema has come to presenting the un-logic state of a nightmare unfolding inexplicably and without soundness and reason. I’d like to argue that the new “Evil Dead” nearly accomplishes the same thing.
Yes, “Evil Dead” can be seen as surrealism. That said, there must be a limit to how much you can enjoy this kind of movie. Not unless you love screaming your head off and being haunted by bloody-disgusting images that last in memory for weeks. It’s a horror show tolerability test. You know, to see how much you can really take. Good luck that it entertains more than disturbs you.
91 Minutes. Rated R.
HORROR / ADULTS / FRIDAY NIGHT SCREAMFEST
Film Cousins: “The Evil Dead” (1981); “Evil Dead II: Dead by Dawn” (1987); “Army of Darkness” (1992); “Dead Alive” (1992).