Evil Dead falls short

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MOVIE REVIEW: Evil Dead 2013

After The Cabin in the Woods thoroughly deconstructed horror movies in general, and ones like this in particular, it shouldn’t be possible to make a film like Evil Dead 2013. Intended as a sort of homage to Sam Raimi’s original, it stumbles as awkwardly as any fan-fiction, but has occasional moments that work.

A group of young adults with poor decision-making abilities lock themselves away from civilization in a cabin in the woods, only to inadvertently stir up evil body-possessing demons when they investigate a weird book in the basement.
The premise is by now a yawn-inducing cliché, and the expository dialogue is clunky and perfunctory, but at least this time there’s a good reason for it other than tweens wanting to party: it’s an intervention to keep Mia, played by Jane Levy, away from her drugs and go cold turkey. There might have been a good metaphor in there somewhere about how fighting addiction is like fighting a demon, but it’s lost on this film.

When the spirits do attack, turning Mia into a Linda Blair-ish “Deadite,” they can be grotesque, visceral and shocking, but this movie lacks any of the quirks or hard edges that made its original noteworthy. There are no brief moments of levity to even out the terror, and few surprises that aren’t copiously foreshadowed. In a horror movie, it’s expected that the characters not be aware of horror movie clichés, but this film seems to expect the audience to be ignorant too.

Evil Dead 2013 works best when it’s not cribbing directly from its predecessor, and the ending actually managed to have a few surprises in it. Levy’s Mia is a credit to her amazing acting ability, but the movie never really rises to be all that it could be. It’s above-average, but not as outstanding as its namesake.

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