At the rate I'm seeing films this might just become something regular, so I hope people can deal with my rather abrasive commentary on movies. Its not like it won't stop me from writing them.
Last night (April 4th, if you're reading this in the far flung future) I popped by Regal Cinemas with the one other friend who responded to my last minute text to catch the 10pm premier of "Evil Dead." No, not "The Evil Dead," "Evil Dead." We got our tickets rather quickly, and went in to a theater that was not exactly full of people.
Backstory first. I've never actually seen the "The Evil Dead" so I can't do a frame-by-frame. I've seen "Army of Darkness" and enjoyed it, but overall its not a title that really piqued my interest at any point. I'm not a tremendous fan of horror films if I'm totally honest here; I've got an overactive imagination, and having played first person shooters for going on 13 years, my eyes are trained to catch little bits of motion. Luckily, I watched "Evil Dead," which is about as scary as a small dog eating a can of chili.
From here on out, spoilers are present. The biggest one is that basically everyone dies. There's a twist in there I guess but its really dumb. Most of this movie is dumb. I'll try and stay positive, at least at first.
There's legitimately fun moments in this movie, and most of them come from the poorly written dialogue. The line that won me over for the majority of the movie happened near the beginning. Junkie girl, who I think was named Mia but who cares, drives a car in to a thorn bush because she sees the girl from every horror movie ever standing in the road. That's when she gets demon pregnant or something who cares, but the whole group finds her and takes her back to the house. The line comes when her brother asks where the cuts on her arms came from.
A trained medical doctor, who is supposed to be intelligent enough to administer treatment identical to the ones received in hospitals, looks him square in the eyes and says "I had to pull some thorns out of her arms. I think she ran in to a thorn bush."
Dumb lines like that litter the entire movie, and every single one of them is enjoyable. People who have witnessed a detox before apparently think that a girl detoxing is going to be violent and try and burn herself in the shower, then murder a dog. I guess that's how drugs work? I don't know. I'm no expert, but I'm pretty sure going cold turkey is just going to make you super irritable, not crazy. Maybe it makes you crazy. Maybe she was snorting supercoke or something.
I also love the big dumb ending, because its exactly as over-the-top and idiotic as I wanted it to be. Watching a one-armed girl chainsaw a weird monster lady who is insulting her while its raining blood is the tone the rest of the movie should have followed, and that is the only time it'll feel like the movie you wanted anyway.
Otherwise, in terms of enjoyability, the camerawork is nice, and I like the sound designs. Costume designs are pretty rad except for the girl with nails in her face, but the environment looks weirdly gross and its pretty enjoyable to look at. Its just a shame you have to sit through the movie.
While dumb lines are great for campy horror flicks, "Evil Dead" tries to take itself incredibly seriously without at all earning that right. Characters don't have witty one-liners, the evil monster - which is basically the Devil - is played as this huge evil asshole, and everything is really dark and dramatic aside from the spattering of dumb. The problem is that there are still dumb lines all over the place, and all of the visuals of the movie are ridiculous in the amount of blood that the human body can apparently hold.
You end up watching a movie that jumps between campy gory fun and serious dark boring almost every other scene. Characters go from mourning the loss of a friend to building a defibrillator out of a car battery and two syringes, from being scared and running for their lives to shoving a chainsaw in to a demon girl while using the stump of their arm for support. Its not quite two movies shoved together, but it feels a bit schizophrenic.
So you have a movie that simultaneously awesome dumb and boringly serious, with visuals that are more gross than scary, and with people and monsters that survive inane amounts of physical punishment, and you know what? That's actually okay I guess. Its not great, but I'm not uncomfortable while watching it, and I think I really just want to feel like I want to leave the theatre while watching a film. I'm just not getting enough awkward lesbianism or rape. I demand that my mediocre horror movies have at least two scenes of sexual assault or I'm not happy.
That's great for this movie, because depending on how you count getting violently straddled and vomited on, there's a good bit of really uncomfortable sexual assault scenes. The first comes when Mia crashes her car in the woods and is forcefully bound by vines, then gets raped by another vine covered in black demon spunk. Then she violently vomits all over her friend while straddling her and pinning her to the floor, which...okay that might not be sexual but whatever.
Third scene comes more towards the middle, when the brother's girlfriend falls in to the basement. Mia comes up the stairs, licks up the entire length of this girl's leg while she screams for help, then cuts her tongue and violently kisses the girl while spitting blood in to her mouth. I'm going to count this as sexual assault, because I would almost certainly call the police if this happened anywhere near me.
There's a scene where a girl stops in the middle of the room and pees for no reason what so ever, the monsters constantly have sexual taunts - my favorite being "come down here and let me suck your cock pretty boy" - and there's plenty of shots of asses. Can't get enough ass shots.
I've got a real problem with these scenes in a movie like "Evil Dead." Its a movie that's somewhat serious, so I don't know which parts are supposed to be over-the-top to the point where I don't have to take it seriously, so everything is really uncomfortable to watch. You end up getting this feeling of not know if you should be laughing or cringing at most scenes, and so you default to cringing because I'm not going to laugh about it.
Am I missing something here? Is there this secret about women that I just haven't learned where they are almost never portrayed as interesting characters in movies? I mean, yeah, no, having sex tied to an evil monster is something that has been going on for ages, but if you're going to have it happen exclusively to women then you need to balance that out with something. For "Evil Dead" there's no balance, its just women getting violently murdered or mind controlled, peeing on floors for no reason (no really, that whole scene had zero pay off), sexually assaulting each other, and getting raped by hentai tentacles, you can't act serious about it. It just makes it uncomfortable.
There's a time and a place for stuff like that, and you really have to go one way or another with it. If you make a serious movie then make all of its serious, or do the opposite entirely and make a balls out movie where a topless woman chainsaws a bunch of undead people and screams "motherfucker" every other line. When you start to blur those lines, you lose a lot of connection with your audience because you aren't meeting their expectations, and while that can sometimes be done artfully, it needs to be handled with a great deal more tact and talent than this film possesses.
In conclusion, don't watch "Evil Dead" unless you hate women. Watch the last 15 minutes, because basically the rest of the movie has no bearing on how that plays out anyway, and I just now realized that after writing this entire review. Shit.
Bitch, if you keep coming up with lines like "about as scary as a small dog eating a can of chili" I'ma start mailing you DVDs.
Fuckin' fantastic. For those with no memory of cinema history, the director of Evil Dead is famous for this.
So there you go. 4 years from "youtube video with no plot" to "Sam Raimi remake." Welcome to Hollywood.