The horror movie genre is sometimes likened to religion. As faithful acolytes eagerly devour each new production, the anticipated scares are what they most crave. It’s a brave film-maker remaking such spooky classics with some charged with cinematic blasphemy. ‘Evil Dead’ is a loose re-dux of the original Sam Raimi-directed trilogy, with its determination to maintain its predecessor’s rough and ready charms an answer to fan’s prayers.
Mia (Jane Levy) aims to cure her drug addiction with the help of some friends. Along with her brother David (Shiloh Fernandez) and three others, they encamp to a remote cabin in the woods. Anticipating a harsh time of withdrawal and anguish, when they discover an ancient book containing dark spells, all hell breaks loose. Unleashing pure evil and battling demonic possession, they fight to the death to escape unending doom.
Having the courage of its gory convictions, ‘Evil Dead’ basks in its bloody escapades. Whilst it doesn’t descend into the ‘torture porn’ that defined the genre in the ‘00’s, it uses the grisly happenings to further the plot. The way it uses Mia’s addiction to mirror the savagery of breaking free of personal demons is effectively mixed with the percolating shocks. There isn’t anything particularly deep occurring but it adds something new than being an out-right rehash of the original film.
While agreeably free of humour and full of pure dread, ‘Evil Dead’ suffers from poor characterisation. Apart from Mia, the rest are very broadly sketched making you care little for their fate. Interest is generated by the use of psychological as well as physical terror although sequences are often telegraphed in advance. The cinematography is a major plus as it captures the eerie atmosphere of the sinister-looking forest to good effect.
‘Evil Dead’ should allay fears it may sully its predecessor’s horrific reputation. It doesn’t although it may go the way of the ‘Nightmare on Elm Street’ and ‘Friday the 13th’ remakes and become over-shadowed by those influential shockers.
Rating out of 10: 6
Evidence some viewers are gluttons for punishment is seen in Paranormal Activity 4. Another entry in the cheaply made ‘techno-horror’ series, fans have ensured it has made buckets of cash. Profit doesn’t equal quality however as this effort is just as lazy as the others. Featuring multiple cameras and a cast of unknowns screaming in front of them, the only scary moment is the thought another in this dull series surfacing.
Katie (Katie Featherston) is still possessed by the demon plaguing her. After kidnapping baby Hunter, she moves into a new neighbourhood. There she meets Alice (Kathryn Newton) and her family. When Katie is taken ill, Hunter is given to Alice’s family to look after. Trouble begins brewing as the evil Katie ensures Alice lives in a state of pure hell until he is brought back into her care.
The best one can say about this outing is it’s much better than its predecessors. Unfortunately that’s only faint praise as its concept is also its main drawback. Using cameras to capture the spooky carry-on is ok for a short while but expanded to feature length proceedings drag. The aimed-for scary atmosphere quickly vanishes once the film drifts into a well of monotonous repetition. The lack of any soundtrack drags things down with the performances and plot becoming as lifeless as the movie’s demons.
Saving it from being as abysmal as the others is the use of humour and vaguely interesting story. Occasionally there are some scares although you have to look hard for them. Most are the same parlour tricks used in previous instalments with opening doors and falling debris a particular favourite. Some new thrills are added ensuring audience pay attention although it’s a shame horror movies like these have once again damned an already mocked genre.
The Paranormal Activity franchise has its fans who will undoubtedly queue for this entry. Others should steer clear of this inexpensive farrago continually in search of a spine to shiver.
Rating out of 10: 3