Mini Reviews (April 2013)
Evil Dead (April 4/13)
Inspired by Sam Raimi's 1981 original, Evil Dead follows four young adults (Shiloh Fernandez's David, Lou Taylor Pucci's Eric, Jessica Lucas' Olivia, and Elizabeth Blackmore's Natalie) as they arrive at a remote cabin to help a friend (Jane Levy's Mia) kick her heroin addiction - with chaos unfolding after the gang, having discovered the series' nefarious Book of the Dead, inadvertently summons several demons residing in the nearby woods. It's immediately clear that the movie's decision to turn its hero into a junkie is an interesting one, as Mia's behavior is initially shrugged off as the rantings and ravings of a detoxing drug abuser - with the film's promising vibe perpetuated by an impressively captivating pre-credits prologue. There's little doubt, however, that one's efforts at embracing the almost laughably familiar narrative - particularly in the wake of The Cabin in the Woods - are stymied by a preponderance of generic, bland characters, as scripters Fede Alvarez, Diablo Cody, and Rodo Sayagues offer up a collection of one-dimension and hopelessly moronic protagonists that are, by and large, utterly devoid of compelling qualities. (It doesn't help, either, that these people continually make eye-rollingly stupid decisions, with Eric's decision to read aloud from the aforementioned Book of the Dead certainly standing as the best and most inexplicable example of this.) The sole saving grace here is filmmaker Alvarez's gleeful emphasis on admittedly breathtaking instances of gore, with the appreciatively over-the-top bent of such moments injecting the otherwise lifeless proceedings with periodic bursts of much-needed energy. The end result is a disappointingly run-of-the-mill horror effort that remains a far cry from Raimi's superior predecessor, which is a shame, really, given the movie's continuing emphasis on grim, brutal happenings (ie this might be the most gruesome mainstream film to come around in over decade).