Thursday, October 31, 2013

The Evil Dead - No more messing 'round, We mean business this time.

Skip to the End for a SPOILER FREE REVIEW
An injured and staggering girl is captured in the woods. She awakens tied to a post in a basement, with many people present. The girl's father is about to light her on fire, and she initially pleads for him to save her, but then quickly reveals she is possessed. She is set ablaze before Harold shoots her in the head with the iconic double barreled sawed-off shotgun.

Some time later, a group of friends meet up at an old cabin deep in the woods. The group consists of Eric, Olivia, Mia, Mia's brother David, and David's girlfriend Natalie. The group has arranged this getaway as a rehab for Mia. Her drug addition previously caused her to overdose, nearly killing her. Olivia suggests that Mia will attempt to bail out, and they should keep her from leaving, to which they all agree.

Upon entering the cabin, Mia complains about a stench of death, to which the rest of the group appear oblivious. After David's dog begins sniffing at a rug in the main room, they discover the door to a cellar. There, they find various animal corpses suspended from the ceiling and wrapped in barbed wire, a double-barreled shotgun, a book covered in a black trash bag and wrapped in barbed wire. It is the Naturom Demonto, and Ignoring repeated warnings scrawled on its pages, Eric ends up reading a passage from the book aloud.

A demon that starts haunting Mia. Terrified, she pleads the group to leave, but they refuse. Mia tries to drive away, but the demon, now taking the form of a darker version of Mia herself, chases her into the woods and possesses her using a long wooden tendril.

The group finds Mia and take her back to the cabin where she attempts to warn David, but the group dismisses her pleas as an excuse to leave. David then finds his dog bludgeoned to death with a hammer and he attempts to confront Mia about it. He finds her locked in the bathroom and with self induced burns on her face from the boiling hot shower. David attempts to drive her to a hospital, but a flood has blocked the roads. 

Back at the cabin, they try to sedate Mia, but she shows up in the living room with the shotgun and shoots her brother in the arm. Mia tells the group in a demonic voice that they will not survive the night before she collapses to the floor. Olivia tries to seize the shotgun, but Mia attacks her, vomiting blood on Olivia's face. During the struggle, Mia falls into the cellar and is locked in. Olivia goes to the bathroom to retrieve more sedatives for Mia, but strangely does not return right away. Eric goes in to check on her, only to find that she has become possessed and has cut off a large portion of flesh from the side of her face. Olivia attacks Eric, stabbing him with a broken piece of a mirror and a syringe, but Eric manages to beat her head open with a broken piece of the sink.

Immediately after, as David attempts to patch up Eric's wounds, Natalie hears Mia crying in the cellar, and goes to check on her. When Mia's treachery is revealed, she traps Natalie in the basement, bites her hand, and then vomits blood into her mouth. Natalie is rescued by David, but a black infection starts spreading quickly up her arm from the wound in her hand. However, Natalie is able to regain focus long enough to cut her own arm off with an electric knife in an attempt to stop the possession. 

Eric's attempts to destroy the book are shown to be futile; he reveals that the book describes a prophecy by which a demon known as the Taker of Souls needs to devour five souls in order to release the Abomination from hell. To achieve this, the Taker has taken Mia's body, and the only ways to release her are to burn her, bury her alive, or dismember her. A possessed Natalie attacks David and Eric with a nail gun and crowbar before her remaining arm is shot off by David and she bleeds to death.

David resolves to burn the cabin and Mia with it, but after being overcome with emotion as Mia sings a lullaby from their childhood, he devises another plan. He enters the cellar with tranquilizers but Mia attacks and kills Eric. David immobilizes Mia and buries her while she taunts him. After Mia dies, he digs her up and using an improvised defibrillator he revives her, now free from the possession. David goes back into the house for the car keys but he is then attacked by a possessed Eric. The mortally wounded David gives Mia the keys, tells her to leave, and locks her out of the house. David shoots a container filled with gasoline igniting the house on fire, killing himself and Eric in the process.

Shortly after, the final stage of the prophecy from the book takes place: it begins to rain blood, and the Abomination crawls out of the ground and goes after Mia. During the chase, Mia cuts off the Abomination's feet with a chainsaw, but then is forced to rip off her hand when it becomes pinned under David's jeep. Mia then manages to kill the Abomination with the chainsaw, and its remains sink back into the ground. The blood rain stops as dawn breaks, and Mia wanders away from the aftermath, oblivious to the Naturom Demonto on the ground as the book closes on its own.

During the end credits, audio is heard, from the original film, of Professor Raymond Knowby telling about his discovery of the Naturom Demonto. Then, in a brief post-credits scene, an older Ash Williams recites his iconic line from the original films, "Groovy", and turns to the audience.

The Good, the Bad, and the Gorey

The Good
The Progression
I didn't want to officially label "The Plot" as a good quality, since I take some issue with it. The plot is a new twist on the classic story, but it still feels a little formulaic. Weird Noise--> Investigation--->Gore--->Repeat. But honestly I should criticize, because the creativity and humor of these bloody encounters was more than enough to suck me in. Each new little scene of broken glass, spitting blood, or nail guns, freaky (and sometimes funny) with just a light breather between each episode. Once the action starts, It doesn't slow down.

The Bad
The Acting
With the added plot line, our actors get more screen time to strut their stuff. And really it's not that bad. They are decent, and horror decent is like Hollywood Oscar-worthy. I didn't come here to watch acting. I don't remember any of the actor's names or faces, but I do remember every way they died on screen  

The Scares
I almost don't want to criticize The Evil Dead on this point, mainly because compared to a lot of modern horror, this film is very traditional. So many horror flicks today rely on the Cheap Scare. They build up the music and slow down the action, just building tension before they jump out at you. I've always been a bigger fan of situational horror or disturbing horror. The Exorcist crab-walk down the stairs didn't make me pee my pants because it jumped out at me, it was because that was some messed up sh**. The Evil Dead does deliver some good traditional horror, but I did find myself kicking the seat in front of me and cursing a lot. 

Nitpick and Loose Ends
Even with the new fancy plot line, this new film left a couple holes. Unlike the original, it doesn't explain the origin of the Book. Also, we get some story set up in the intro, but never hear anything else about it. What happened to the father? Who were those weird and deformed people?
Also, when I think of The Evil Dead (1981) I immediately think of that twisted lullaby sung to Ash by a demon peeking up from the basement. I know we couldn't get everything we wanted, but come on, that was my favorite.

The Gorey
If any movie gave birth to modern Splatter flicks, The Evil Dead (1981) would be it. Sure exhibition films had been around for a while, but gore reaching comical levels was still taking roots in movies like Braindead. That being said I was counting on some great gore in this movie, and it was delivered. We got dismemberment, self mutilation, blood vomit, burns, stabs, and blasts. Most of the work is done with CGI, but I was okay with it. I'm normally a purest for cornstarch blood, but all the CGI gore was realistic and tasteful. They don't go crazy with it, only using CGI for the tough shots. 

This is not a movie for kids. This is not a movie for teenagers. This is not a movie for adults. This is a movie people that delight in the morbid and ghastly. This unyielding level of gore is usually only seen in Torture Porn flicks.

Nitpick Note: I hate when a film uses raining blood or head-to-toe soaks a character in blood. If the canvas is already red, blood and gore becomes less dramatic.

Cool Featurette!

My Take on It All

There are plenty of reasons to like this movie. It is action packed and doesn't have a overloaded plot. Frede Alvares saved us from some a Six Sense or Wicker Man with their hour plus back story and instead gave use terror and action. The creativity of the gore and the simplicity of the special effects are sure to be a benchmark of modern horror cinema.

But honestly, this movie is wonderful because of what its not. Remakes are often crippled with the decision to please the die hard fans of the original, or to deviate from the cannon and attract new viewers. If a director chooses the former, they're called unoriginal (think the remake of Psycho) if they choose the later, they're called a sellout (think Planet of the Apes remake). This is the tightrope that Frede Alvares had to walk, and walk it he did.

To the horror novice, this was a flick full of guts and gore, scares and thrills. Just like a good horror movie should be. It makes sense even if you haven't  seen the original. But to the horror/Evil Dead devotee, this is a beautiful offering to the golden shrine of Sam Raimi, but all very subtly. It gives us a rickety cabin  the case camera view, the quick cut scenes effect, the necklace, the sawed-off shotgun, the chained-down cellar door, the rape in the woods, the Naturon Demonto, two severed hands, a chainsaw, and freakin' Bruce Campbell saying, "groovy". Its enough to make an Evil Dead fan jump for joy.

See it if you love Evil Dead, and see it if you aren't one yet. 

Sam Riami should be proud of the remake of his classic Evil Dead by director Frede Alvares. A quite vacation to the woods leaves a group of college kids trapped with an evil book and demonic possessions. This splatter-flick turn the gore up to extreme while still maintaining a decent story line. The acting can be *meh at times, but you'll forget all about it once the blood is flying. For Evil Dead novices and fanatics alike.

Final Grade: A- 


Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Tis the Season....

I know I've been gone for a while, and honestly, I don't have a good excuses for the long, barren landscape that is my post-frequency. And while this is far from my normally lengthy reviews, I couldn't let Halloween slip by without throwing something up on the blog.

I hang out with lots and lots of Mormons, who are just about the worst people in the world to watch a good scary movie with. Since Mormons don't often watch violence/gore and detest nudity/sexuality, it isn't often that you'll find one that admits to watching R-rated movies in general. So, I had to come up with my own little imdb list of Horror Flicks I knew wouldn't offend my conservative Christian buddies.

Tell me what scary movies you watching for the Halloween Season?

The Mothman Prophecies (2002)
A reporter is drawn to a small West Virginia town to investigate a series of strange events, including psychic visions and the appearance of bizarre entities. (119 mins.)
Director: Mark Pellington
“ With only a make-out scene and a couple tame curse words, this film is a clean spook. Crazy part is that it is based on actual events. ” - thecheshirecat101
Poltergeist (1982)
A family's home is haunted by a host of ghosts. (114 mins.)
Director: Tobe Hooper
“ One of the only PG horror movies that is actually good. Some mild drug references and one wax-bloody scene, but other than that, you could almost call this a family film. ” - thecheshirecat101
Nosferatu (1922)
Vampire Count Orlok expresses interest in a new residence and real estate agent Hutter's wife. Silent classic based on the story "Dracula." (94 mins.)
Director: F.W. Murnau
“ If you want to understand vampires in cinema, you got to go right to the source. Nosferatu is as about as old as horror movies come. Its a silent movie and might be better suited to a crowd that appreciate classic cinema. But don't let it's age fool you, it still has plenty of parts that are spooky as heck. ” - thecheshirecat101
Fido (2006)
Timmy Robinson's best friend in the whole wide world is a six-foot tall rotting zombie named Fido. But when FIDO eats the next-door neighbor... (93 mins.)
Director: Andrew Currie
“ Ok, this is one of the greatest horror comedy of recent years. And yes...technically it is rated R, but it passed the screening process as PG13, only getting it's R just before it hit theaters. The movie really goes out of it's way to hide any gore (which is saying a lot for a zombie movie). It's scary, it's funny, go see it. ” - thecheshirecat101
I Am Legend (2007)
Years after a plague kills most of humanity and transforms the rest into monsters, the sole survivor in New York City struggles valiantly to find a cure. (101 mins.)
Director: Francis Lawrence
“ Almost more of an apocalyptic survival movie than and horror flick, the monsters still make you jump. ” - thecheshirecat101
The Haunting in Connecticut (2009)
After a family is forced to relocate for their son's health, they begin experiencing supernatural behavior in their new home, which turns out to be a former mortuary. (92 mins.)
Director: Peter Cornwell
“ Ghost movies are great because they don't necessarily have to have gore. This move has some dead bodies, maybe a bucket of blood, but is overall pretty tame. But don't be fooled, this one will have you saying your bedtime prayers with your eyes open. ” - thecheshirecat101
The Last Exorcism (2010)
A troubled evangelical minister agrees to let his last exorcism be filmed by a documentary crew. (87 mins.)
Director: Daniel Stamm
“ Lots of Mormons are flat out against possession movies. It gets a little to close to legitimate fears around demons and the Devil. Fair enough. But if your audience isn't put off by it, The Last Exorcism is the best PG13 possession movie out there. ” - thecheshirecat101
The Ring (2002)
A young journalist must investigate a mysterious videotape which seems to cause the death of anyone in a week of viewing it. (115 mins.)
Director: Gore Verbinski
“ Very scary movie, instant classic. Another ghost story with disturbing images, but nothing anyone would consider to be 'gore'. ” - thecheshirecat101
When a Stranger Calls (2006)
During an otherwise routine babysitting gig, a high-school student is harassed by an increasingly threatening prank caller.(87 mins.)
Director: Simon West
“ You really want to scare some ex-babysitter BYU girls? Then this is the movie to do it. Honestly it is more of a borderline suspense/thriller flick, but for Mormons its scary enough. ” - thecheshirecat101
The Sixth Sense (1999)
A boy who communicates with spirits that don't know they're dead seeks the help of a disheartened child psychologist. (107 mins.)
Director: M. Night Shyamalan
“ While just about everyone knows the surprise ending, the movie is still a great jump-up-at-ya flick. A little bit of gore, but its pretty quick. ” - thecheshirecat101
1408 (2007)
A man who specializes in debunking paranormal occurrences checks into the fabled room 1408 in the Dolphin Hotel. Soon after settling in, he confronts genuine terror. (104 mins.)
Director: Mikael Håfström
“ Ghost strike again, in this supernatural investigation horror flick ” - thecheshirecat101
The Grudge (2004)
An American nurse living and working in Tokyo is exposed to a mysterious supernatural curse, one that locks a person in a powerful rage before claiming their life and spreading to another victim. (92 mins.)
Director: Takashi Shimizu
“ Not my favorite horror flick; I think it is lacking in plot substance. But if you want a movie without gore or nudity that will still make you jump out of your seat, then this is your movie. ” - thecheshirecat101
Psycho (1960)
A Phoenix secretary steals $40,000 from her employer's client, goes on the run and checks into a remote motel run by a young man under the domination of his mother. (109 mins.)
Director: Alfred Hitchcock
“ Its a classic for a reason. It takes its time getting to the spooks, but when they come they're great. And don't worry, the 60's so it's squeaky clean. ” - thecheshirecat101