In much the same way that Scream forced slasher movies to up their game, last year's Cabin In The Woods has made it next-to-impossible for the cabin-based sub-genre of horror to be taken seriously anymore. Yet here we have a remake of one of the classic cabin-in-the-woods based horrors, given full blessing by the original's director and star, with an interesting little twist on the norm.
Five friends head to a - yep, you guessed it - cabin in the woods, but instead of the usual set up of sex and alcohol, one of the five is actually there to go cold turkey from her drug addiction. When she starts to see some scary things, the rest of the group figure it to be a part of the come-down and pay no attention to her. But before long they've discovered some freaky goings on in the basement, a Book Of The Dead that appears to be made from human flesh, and the only bridge back to civilization has just been washed away in a flash flood.
The set-up for this version of the Evil Dead story at least has half a brain, which is more than can be said for the characters in the movie, but it is also a bit of a slog to get through. The first forty minutes or features by-the-numbers scenes that we've seen in about a billion other horror movies, but once the first character actually runs into the evil they're facing, all hell breaks loose. This is one of the bloodiest, most over-the-top violent movies to come from mainstream Hollywood in a long time. There is very little CGI here, with make-up and practical effects ensuring you feel every last slash, stab, shot and broken bone. Seriously, if you have anything approaching a weak stomach, then DO NOT watch this movie.
Director Alvarez, who got the gig on the back of his awesome 2009 short Panic Attack (YouTube it), brings some odd visual beauty to these disgusting scenes, but there is no evidence of Diablo Cody’s supposed script doctoring. These "late-teenagers" are mostly dumb, one-dimensional and, aside from lead actress Jane Levy, they cast who play them aren't great. But perhaps the biggest problem with Evil Dead is that it’s not particular scary. Entertaining? Yes. Gory? Hell yes. But scary? Not so much.