April 11, 2013

'Evil Dead' lacks campy humor, abounds in gore


---- — “Evil Dead” is not, as it claims, “the most terrifying movie you will ever see.”

It is, however, an effective homage to 1981’s low-budget classic “The Evil Dead,” and a more than serviceable scare-fest in its own right.

Given the stamp of approval by original director Sam Raimi and original star Bruce Campbell (both listed as producers this time), the film is the feature debut for Raimi’s director protege Fede Alvarez.

“Evil Dead” not only lacks the “The” of the first film, it also misses Campbell’s oddball charisma and most of the campy humor.

What humor the movie does have comes from its acts of over-the-top violence and gore. It’s not sophisticated or subtle, but there are buckets of blood, and several moments that will make most any viewer jump.

The story is familiar to anyone who has watched either of the first two “Evil Dead” films — or anyone who has watched virtually any horror movie, ever.

Five young people gather at a rundown, remote cabin. One of them finds a strange book of unspeakable evil, and strangely, decides to read the words within, letting loose, well, unspeakable evil.

In this incarnation, the five people are gathered, ostensibly, to participate in an intervention for Mia (“Suburgatory’s” Jane Levy), a troubled young woman who can’t kick her nasty heroin habit.

Shiloh Fernandez (“Red Riding Hood”) plays her annoying brother David, who inexplicably brings a date to the intervention (the bland Elizabeth Blackmore), and has a tendency to make wrong choices.

Jessica Lucas (“Cloverfield”) is Olivia, a nurse who thinks she knows what she’s doing, while Lou Taylor Pucci is Eric, a high-school teacher who is fascinated by the strange book and tries to figure stuff out.

Bodies are taken over by spirits, blood is spilled in creative ways, limbs are lost, and not everyone will survive.

“Evil Dead” is an unnecessary but not entirely unappealing remake. It’s simple, but well-done, for those who can stomach this sort of thing.

Rental recommendation: Though the remake has hauled in more money in one weekend than the first three movies of the series generated together in their entire theatrical runs, the outrageously campy (dead by dawn!) second film, “The Evil Dead 2,” is the best of the lot. Grade: A-

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'Evil Dead'

Grade: B

Starring: Jane Levy, Shiloh Fernandez, Jessica Lucas

Rated: R (for strong bloody violence and gore, some sexual content and language)

Running time: 91 minutes