FAIR WARNING - THERE WILL BE SPOILERS IN THIS REVIEW!
|Doesn't she remind you of Regan from The Exorcist?|
I will just say that Evil Dead II no longer scares me and I'm not sure if it would if I saw it now (being old and cynical that I am ;P), although the giggling she-demon in Evil Dead always, always gives me the creeps. Still, Evil Dead II (not Evil Dead so much, because Sam developed his directorial talents between the two IMO) is a brilliantly choreographed piece of film, it has tension, shocks and a pace that catches the watcher at the beginning and pulls you all the way through till the end. the original evil Dead also has moments of brilliance that make me keep coming back to it, I mentioned the giggling demon already, didn't I! The new Evil Dead...well, not so much.
It starts with a 'bang' a young girl, teenager probably, wandering in the woods gets thumped by a couple of hill billies. She ends up tied to a pillar and her father sets fire to her to rid her of the evil inside her. We see the demon swearing and cursing and then, bam, we're into the main story. The man in glasses setting fire to his daughter is the only nod to the archaeologist and his wife from original ED that we get in this story, we are only left with the book and the aftermath of the witchery that freed the girl of the demon. I'm not sure if I'd miss him if it wasn't for knowing the originals, but I think I would. The use of another character fiddling around with the book and managing to read out the significant incantation, which is one of the few that has been helpfully translated for him, I found a bit far fetched (yeah, I know, demons and magic spells and I'm finding that point far fetched, but I've suspended my disbelief about the demons for the movie, not my ability to assimilate coincidence). I will also add that, because there is no history to the book, I don't find it as prominent in the story as it was in the originals. It's there, it flashes us a few pictures of what is going to happen (annoying by the way, because it gives away the shock when the nurse is possessed), but it's just a run of the mill plot device.
OK, enough about the prologue that barely impinges on the rest of the story (unless you take the rather clumsy flash-back reminder to inform the audience if we hadn't spotted it that the burnt wooden pillar in the cellar of the cabin is where daddy burnt his daughter to save her soul). On to the main story, and it's far more ponderous than either of the two originals (I'm including these together, because EDII is, more or less, a remake of EDI in the first half hour or so and then branches into more of its own story, but they are essentially the same premise and the same story). We are introduced to David and Mia, brother and sister, and their friends through some rather heavy post-teen angst. Mia and David have a dysfunctional past, Mummy was mad and David left home, Mia is a drug addict wanting to quit. She's going to go cold turkey in this deserted cabin in the woods with her friends to help her. Can you guess what is going to happen next? ;P
It's an interesting premise, more complex than some friends just heading out to a cabin for the weekend, which is how the original is set up, and if you can't see the parallels between drug detox and demon possession, then you're blind. However, because of this parallel and the set up of Mia slowly dissolving into a desperate addict, the story took a while to get going and there wasn't a lot of creepiness in the first 45 minutes. However, when it did get going, it brought the first of two really creepy moments in the movie (yes, I said 2). After Mia is attacked by the trees (and the demon, which we see as some kind of future reflection, I think), sorry, I digress, after Mia is attacked, the others take her back to the cabin, believing she is just raving with withdrawal (didn't see that coming at all, no siree). David goes to talk to her in her room and she tries to convince him that something bad is happening - and boy does she come off as intensely creepy - I take my hat off to the actress, she had me convinced she was terrified and infected and on the crazy train in her whispers and movements. This was let down somewhat by David not being able to act his way out of a paper bag, but never mind, she was fantastic and gave me chills. Plus the shot in the mirror at the end of the that scene was inspired cinematography.
Thereafter, as one by one, they get infected by the demon and end up dead, while Mia is in the cellar cheerleading proceedings, I was left slightly bored. I think it was because the main story had started out too 'gritty', I use the term loosely, for me to really get into the demons. The effects from the originals might seem cheesy in today's standards, but the sheer madness of the demons and their frenetic activity produced shock value. The directing of the demons in this one was much slower, they were murderous, nasty, but they went about it at a pace that was supposed to engender suspense, but which left me waiting for the conflicts to end.
The only bit that had me on the edge of my seat was at the end when Mia is face to face with 'the abomination', one on one, Mia is being chased by the demon (yes, David managed to un-possess Mia before sacrificing himself for his sis, again, never saw that coming ;P). There is suspense, there is fear, there is the worm turning, there is a chainsaw! If they'd managed to put that kind of tension into the rest of the movie, I would have enjoyed it a lot more.
Now, I'm not saying the original ED, or EDII were perfect, far from it and I was not horrified with this remake as I was with Fright Night, which had me ranting, but if I want to watch ED in the future, I think I'll stick with the originals.
As a modern horror movie in its own right, the new Evil Dead is worth a watch though.