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The Cabin in the Woods

Evil Dead (remake) review references The Cabin in the Woods

Saturday 31 August 2013, by Webmaster

So they updated Evil Dead by making it torture porn with a little exorcism all up in it

If you’re a fan of the Evil Dead movies, which vibrate with Sam Raimi’s visual psychosis and Bruce Campbell’s bug-eyed mania, you may find yourself disappointed by the Evil Dead reboot that the two just produced. The original movie trilogy was a slapsticky sendup of 1970s horror movies. Unfortunately the reboot is just straight torture porn, with no winks and no nudges. Even the buckets of blood and eyeball stabbing aren’t enough to make this movie great.

Obviously nobody wants a reboot to be a slavish recreation of the original movie, and so it’s not entirely fair to say that director Fede Alvarez’s movie doesn’t do what Raimi’s trilogy did. Still, it seems weird to reboot a franchise that is beloved for its goofy satire by making a movie that is basically humor-free. After all, audiences turned the original Evil Dead into a cult film not just because it was gross in a novel way, but because it was that rarest of things: funny-gross. Without the humor, unintentional or not, Evil Dead would have been just another crappy supernatural horror flick among zillions of others in the 1980s.

Not only is the Evil Dead remake humorless, but there’s even a concerted effort at having a meaningful, emotional subtext to all the horror. The bloodletting begins when a group of five friends go out to a cabin owned by a brother and sister in the group, Mia and David. It turns out they’ve brought Mia there as an intervention — she’s trying to kick heroin, and if they can keep her away from civilization, they’re hoping she won’t start shooting again. David is her semi-estranged brother, who is so distant that he doesn’t realize she’s already OD’d once. He’s also in denial about how much she suffered when he left home and she was alone with their psychopathic mother.

So it’s practically a J-horror situation here, with dark family secrets, a drug problem, and madness lurking in Mia’s background. Plus, Mia’s friends are also resentful of David because he used to be their friend too before he hightailed it out to wherever he went. So we’ve got this strong hint that maybe everything we’re about to see is the product of a real-life junkie freakout, and then the rest of the story is an homage to the first Evil Dead movie.

One of the gang finds the scabby-looking Book of the Dead in the cabin basement, where people have broken in to conduct pagan rituals. He decides to read some words from it, because of course that’s what you do when you find a book where somebody has scrawled phrases like "burn the bitch." This unleashes an evil force in the forest, which first possesses Mia and then the rest of the women in the house, who hack themselves and everybody else into seriously disgusting pieces. The only way to stop the horror is to exorcise the thing from the forest, by killing Mia.

Evil Dead’s got some creative gore, but mostly it just feels like Hostel had a baby with The Rite — which, seriously, who wants to have sex with The Rite, anyway? There is a tree rape scene, in a hat tip to Evil Dead, which is genuinely bizarre and worthy of its predecessor. And there are also hat tips to the signature chainsaw from the previous film, as well as the insane levels of dismemberment. But everything feels very rote, too, especially after we’ve lived through a generation of horror movies that have basically perfected (and rendered cliché) all kinds of mutilation and possession scenarios.

The hackneyed aspects of this film felt especially off-key, as I mentioned earlier, because the Evil Dead series is known for making fun of movies like this reboot. Especially after Cabin in the Woods, you’d think that the filmmakers would have wanted to do something to A) acknowledge the absurdity of the film’s premise, and B) the absurdity of making such a movie at all when it’s been done so many times before, mostly badly.

Still, if you can set aside these problems and just focus on how Evil Dead is an artificial torture porn cake with some creamy exorcisms in the middle, you’ll be able to enjoy this Twinkie of a horror movie for what it is: a competent ripoff of other movies, with a few standout barf sequences.