I've probably told this story before in print elsewhere, so forgive me if you've heard it before, but it's relevant to this review. One day several years ago, as I sat in a tiny Los Angeles screening room waiting for the movie to begin, I was involuntarily drawn into a discussion with other film critics about "all those terrible, gory, torture-filled horror movies." I'd been keeping silent, letting the experts in the room dismiss my very favorite flavor of low-brow, but then one of them said, "Wait. Dave, you're in favor of this kind of thing, aren't you?"
Other Critic: "Why?"
Me: "Because I like watching people get their heads chopped off."
This ended the conversation and I felt satisfied by my contribution to the collective body of critical discourse.
I tell you that story because Evil Dead fulfills my number one rule of gory horror: be effing gory, please and thank you. It does this while mounting a joyously effective scare campaign even though, 32 years after Sam Raimi's original The Evil Dead, we've pretty much all seen all of this before. Unnecessary remakes remain unnecessary remakes no matter how much fun I'm personally having.
Some changes: the kids this time aren't in it for the spring breaking. They've assembled at the broken-down cabin in the woods of siblings Mia (Jane Levy, going for it like a maniac) and David (Shiloh Fernandez, not) so that Mia can kick heroin. That this place has been neglected to the point of post-hygiene and turned into a dumpy Satanic murder-shack, tricked out with a basement full of... stuff, doesn't deter them from their shared goal. When shaggy-haired pal Eric (Lou Taylor Pucci) uncovers the flesh-bound book of the dead in that basement and stupidly announces the names of the demons surrounding the place, it's an invitation for the film to haul out the electric carving knives, nail guns and rape-trees.
The only trouble with all this isn't its lack of good reason to exist; the unnecessary remake is here to stay. Complain all you want about it but there's too much easy money to be made from pre-existing brands. The problem arises when -- and this is all I'll say in the interest of avoiding too many third-act details -- the film ditches its drug-withdrawal-as-demonic-possession metaphor and waffles on playing by its own set of rules.
But it's exciting, almost breathlessly so, and excited about how much its grossing you out. Furthermore, if those rules weren't bent just a little we'd be denied the beautifully repulsive and blood-washed visual crescendo that the convoluted third act delivers. The filmmakers made a decision to align themselves with a wicked sort of fun, extremely cool-looking nastiness and crazily hyperactive jolts instead of a bleak, soul-scouring descent into hopelessness. The very satisfying result is a lovingly crafted, chaotically loud noise-symphony conducted in honor of evisceration, agony, vomit and other gnarly delights. I remain in favor of this kind of thing.