Fede Alvarez’s directorial debut is a smorgasbord of gore. A darker, bleaker, bloodier Evil Dead, Alvarez’s melodramatic interpretation of Sam Raimi’s classic has a group of friends holed up in a cabin in the woods for an intervention when they accidentally unleash an ancient evil after discovering the Book of the Dead.
ADAM: Still figuring out how much I actually liked this movie.
BRYAN: We’ll hash it out and then you’ll know. For starters, how about a little background? I assume you’ve seen the original trilogy. How would you rank them and how much do you like them?
ADAM: Of course I’ve seen the original trilogy. I love the original trilogy. But I don’t know that I can rank them. Even though it’s a trilogy, each kinda stands on its own. I also don’t think the original trilogy should be brought to bear with this new film.
BRYAN: Normally I’d agree, but the film sort of plays it both ways. Like don’t think of that, but hey remember that. As for me, my third born is named Ash and I love time travel so Army of Darkness ranks a tad higher just cause. That bit of full disclosure nonsense gone. What did you make of Evil Dead?
ADAM: I enjoyed Fede Alvarez’s take on Evil Dead, but it wasn’t astonishing, I wasn’t astounded, I wasn’t blown away, and I wouldn’t venture to call it near perfect… so, I guess movie posters lie. Who’da thunk? It’s a decent horror movie, and it certainly stands apart from many of the recent offerings from the genre that seem to be made by rich people who are mocking horror fans. This is a horror movie by horror fans for horror fans… but it’s just not my favorite.
BRYAN: I kept jumping over the fence. I’d be giggling and saying “cool” one minute and then bored the next. I think by the end–and especially after the stinger–I’m leaning negative. I do agree with you about it feeling different from other crap that’s out there, but they couldn’t find a better way to implement all the good stuff.
ADAM: And there’s a lot of great stuff here. They create a nice, dark atmosphere. Lots of interesting visuals they play around with. They revel in the glory of gore… but, it also kinda feels like just a really well-financed fan film. Also, for all the eviscerated viscera, there’s just not a lot of meat on those bones.
BRYAN: Some of that fan service stuff is inevitable and I tried to look past it. My bigger problem was every time the splatter-fest took a breather the movie was stale. I mean they couldn’t find better actors? And a detox weekend? It was so very forced.
ADAM: It was. And even though I already said I didn’t think the original trilogy needed to be brought to bear, I’m gonna: I didn’t need a reason for them to be going to the cabin.
BRYAN: Well, at first I thought, “Hey, why not?” Go ahead. Try to give them a reason. Maybe this will be interesting, but the writing was awful. It was after school special level. Not good. If you are going to add a reason, make it say something or make it interesting. I mean why stop at heroin? How about we bring AIDS into it for no reason?
ADAM: Not entirely sure where you’re going with that. I just think it’s a matter of overwriting, feeling the need to justify or explain every little thing until you’ve written yourself into a corner.
BRYAN: What I mean is this: we either don’t need any explanation–just be a gory horror film, thrill the crap out of us, have one goal in mind–OR, if you must explain and add, give it purpose. Make it an allegory. Don’t just shoehorn random shit just cause.
ADAM: I think the intervention story works, it just wasn’t very well written.
ADAM: I don’t feel like they had any grand aspirations, as far as a message or anything.
BRYAN: I don’t think so either, so don’t waste my time with it. And oooooh boy did the acting not sell any of that poor writing. Compare to original if you want, but those first time friends had more personality than this cast. And you said it, this film was well-financed, so why is Captain Blandy McBlanderson the main character and the best they could afford?
ADAM: Yeah, I was not really feeling this cast and I’ve never really been a fan of Shiloh Fernandez. I thought Jane Levy and Lou Taylor Pucci were good. I was worried about Elizabeth Blackmore until the kitchen scene, but she was great thereafter.
BRYAN: Levy/Pucci yes. Never seen Captain Blandy before and hope I never do again. The other two could scream and walk menacingly, but couldn’t deliver lines to save their lives. The whole film played out this way for me: “Awwww sick, gnarly. Cool! Oh, now they’re talking. Please, make it stop! Oh, cool a chainsaw! Like the original, but they’ve tried to distance themselves from that… oh, who cares. More blood! Shut up. Shut up. Shut up!”
ADAM: I feel like we’ve been bashing it for the most part. It’s a bloody good time, just not THE best bloody time.
BRYAN: I’m 50/50. 90-minute movie, 45 good ones, 45 bad, and 5 seconds of WTF rage at the end.
ADAM: It has weird pace issues, like a roller coaster with a lot of level straightaways.
BRYAN: And I’m happy with a movie that just wants to be a roller coaster, but yeah, this should have been crazy the whole time and maybe go backwards.
ADAM: Really puts the “coast” in roller coaster.
BRYAN: It felt like each actor thought they were in a different movie. Also not a fan of the back from beyond moment. Some scenes felt like they wanted to be in Raimi’s funhouse, but they felt off because this film was mostly going for dark and disturbing. You gotta do your own thing. You can’t have it all ways.
ADAM: Yeah, it’s kinda all over the place. I will say this, the ending was a surprise, a weird surprise. So, it’s got that going for it. It’s nice not to know exactly how a movie’s going to end 20-minutes in.
RYAN: Which part? Stinger? Blood rain?
ADAM: Blood rain. That whole sequence.
BRYAN: Movie would have been so much better had Levy been the lead the whole film and that blood rain scene proves why.
ADAM: Yes, but then we wouldn’t have her awesome Deadite/Regan McNeil performance.
BRYAN: Again. Trying to have it all. I liked the atmosphere, like you said, but I was never afraid of the outside. Again, the original, for all its budget constraints, still had me afraid of all the doors and windows. Here, it was just of the people inside. This feels like a missed opportunity.
ADAM: It’s a bloody fun hodgepodge of a horror film, but I don’t think Fede Alverez is as good a storyteller as Sam Raimi. Just look at his short films. Panic Attack looks cool, not a lot of story there. El Cojonudo has that nice creepy atmosphere, but is pretty juvenile writing. He’s good at visuals and effects.
BRYAN: Exactly. He needs to learn how to cast and then how to work with actors. But I’d still say go see it, just skip the credits.