This remake of Sam Raimi’s classic 1981 film of the same name manages to exist as boring, grotesque and irritating in pretty much equal measure, and has kept the basic idea of its progenitor but excoriated all of the darkly comedic aspects, quirks and playful horror that made the original such a cult favourite, a film that became so revered there is even a musical based on it (see below for a short excerpt). Oddly, production credits here find Raimi alongside Bruce Campbell and Robert G. Tapert, all of whom worked on the original trilogy (‘Evil Dead II’ arrived in 1987, and then ‘Army of Darkness’ followed in 92) and it seems the idea for this film is for it to act as both a reboot and a continuation of the original three, with an ‘Army of Darkness 2’ to follow, then a sequel to this one, and finally a third film to tie together the two separate story arcs. An interesting plan, but with the final product here, one could be forgiven for starting to think Raimi has lost his touch, especially on the back of his previous film ‘Oz The Great and Powerful’, as although he is not on directing duties (that dubious honour belonging to Uruguayan Fede Alvarez, handpicked by Raimi) this is ultimately badly shot, conceptualised, written, cast and staged.
It also suffers from the very, very familiar set up that takes place – a bunch of teens go to a cabin in the woods, seemingly fully intent on tempting the dark arts and getting themselves mutilated in a series of ever more bloody ways. Ironically, the success of the original has helped saturate the horror spectrum with this same concept, so much so, of course, it was satirised in the grand homage that was 2011’s ‘The Cabin in the Woods’. Here, the stage is set by the main character Mia, played by Jane Levy, wanting to kick her drug habit and thus isolating herself in her family retreat with some trusted friends and her brother, but this entire plot element is left dangling limply by the narrative and gets in the way of things more than anything else. Pretty soon they happen upon a cursed ancient tome, and one of them very cleverly works out what the words they should never ever utter are, and unleashes some kind of evil demon, one that ends up having no more scripted structure than a serious of exploding blood bags. It’s simply revolting, and fits right into the stratum of modern horror films that want to cerebrally butcher the audience as much as possible rather than thrill, scare, reward, or entertain them.
Unless you really want to see young girls wearing bright yellow contacts, cutting their tongues in half and flaring their nostrils so wide the camera could practically fit up them, then give this one a very wide berth.