Evil Dead [Blu-Ray] Fede Alvarez

Evil Dead [Blu-Ray] Fede Alvarez
4
An eager meanness pervades Fede Alvarez's approach to re-imagining Sam Raimi's iconic horror comedy franchise. As if it were the acts of violence and not the cartoonish tone that invested The Evil Dead and (much) more so, Evil Dead II with the strength of personality that garnered it such a voracious cult following. The Uruguayan director first noticed for his proficient, but underwhelming robot invasion short, Panic Attack, struggles to find a voice that captures what worked about the original while satisfying his obsessions. Namely, gore is what gets Fede's rocks off — big, sloppy, viscera-filled buckets of it. Though the level of blood-spewing, try-hard, post-torture porn violence eventually oversaturates the film, to the point of absurdity, producing a few uncomfortable, incredulous chuckles, the inexperienced storyteller fails to otherwise capture the juxtaposition of horrific shoestring excess with the rampant silliness that made Raimi's vision much more entertaining than the torrent of superficial shock tactics Alvarez employs to demonstrate the skill of his practical effects team. The hyper-realistic, anatomy-mangling effects are top-notch and, as the obvious focus of the director's attention, receive the lion's share of the attention in the disc's special features. Story-wise, this slick and nasty Evil Dead uses demonic possession as a metaphorical vehicle to ride the well-worn drug admonitory rails: Mia, a pretty young addict, decides to go cold turkey, with the help of her brother and friends, at a remote cabin in the woods. It's a serviceable enough device to provide an initial smokescreen for the infiltration of evil (yes, there is a version of the famous, forcibly amorous tree scene) while Mia transitions from fever dreaming untrustworthy junkie to murderous mutilation enthusiast, but our protagonist isn't given enough time to build much of a connection with the audience before all hell breaks loose. Resultantly, it's hard to care about how the subsequent series of idiotic decisions and forced homage eventually turns out. However, if you like highly stylized, sadistic vapidity or simply must own everything featuring Bruce Campbell, the special features will provide you with a new way to occupy your time. Campbell is present to do his salesman's best, finding creative ways to hype the picture while distancing it from his work in the original trilogy. Evil Dead's other overtaxed ace is all over the features as well: Jane Levy and her forceful presence. From script reads and more in "Directing the Dead" to fake super-vomiting in the mud in "Making Life Difficult" and a video diary shot by the talented and dryly sarcastic star detailing her extensive daily makeup sessions, it's clear that the studio's aware of who carried the picture. In the bonus content, unlike the film, Campbell is around for more than a pointless post-credits wink and, as usual, steals the show, his natural comic timing giving his business-savvy anecdotes additional spark. Fans might want to skip directly to "Remaking Evil Dead" and "Unleashing the Evil Force" for the closest thing they're going to get to an Ash fix. A commentary track with Levy, underused comic relief Lou Taylor Pucci, demon bait number one Jessica Lucas, along with the director and co-writer Rodo Saygues makes time to joke about rape foreshadowing and homage moments, but fails to explain any plot holes or why it's the women who are systematically infected by irrational behaviour, manifesting first in self-harm before escalating into full-bore, kill-'em-all crazy (maybe I missed something about their cycles synching?). I guess ghost-polisher Diablo Cody couldn't get much of the misogyny out. (Sony)