Once in a while, a movie slips under your radar. For about, oh, 20 years. In ‘Big-screen blind spot,’ we sit down with those ‘classic’ movies everybody but us has seen and give them the nostalgia critic treatment.
Confession: I had never seen "Evil Dead"--NOT the 2013 remake (That would have been relatively excusable, given how new it is). No, I had somehow failed to see the age-old horror-comedy classic from director Sam Raimi, which I'm told paved the way for basically, oh, every horror-comedy movie since then.
For those who haven't seen the movie: Here is the CliffsNotes version so you can speak intelligently about the movie with friends who just LOOOOVE it. In the movie, five college kids decide to go on a little weekend getaway in a cabin in the woods they rented for a steal (wonder why?). They find an old book and a reel-to-reel tape recorder, which plays a recording of a professor translating ritual chants that unearths evil spirits from the forest. Said evil spirits possess all but one of the people in the house. A lot of body dismemberment happens, and a tree sexually assaults one of the college students. It was Raimi's directorial debut. He only spent $350,000 to make the film, and it was so successful, he went on to make a second and third "Evil Dead," which only got goofier.
I wasn't born when it debuted ... but if I had been alive and watched it as a kid, I STILL don't think I would have been scared. This flick was one of the cheesiest I've ever seen. I realize that's what Raimi was going for, but it didn't work for me. I give the scare factor on this a "2" on a scale of 1 to 5. And this is coming from someone who usually watches scary movies in the fetal position with my ears plugged and almost both eyes covered.
Now: I hated this movie. I realize that by saying this, I'll spark a lot of controversy because it seems everyone who HAS seen this movie and/or the entire trilogy has loved it. But not me. I should point out that I love horror movies (I'll watch "The Exorcist" or any Alfred Hitchcock movie any day of the week), and I love goofy movies ("Dumb and Dumber" is the cat's meow), but when filmmakers try to do both? No thank you. JUST PICK A GENRE! I've heard "Evil Dead II: Dead by Dawn" is by far much better than the first, so maybe I'll give that a shot one day. But if it weren't for having to write this review, I would have stopped watching the original 20 minutes in.
Why? The acting. These people are dismembering and killing their good friends, yet you never see a glimpse of remorse. So they underact in that respect, and then overact in other scenes such as when Ash (Bruce Campbell) and his girlfriend, Linda (Betsy Baker), exchange awkward side eyes while trying to be romantic. And while I was underwhelmed by the portrayals of the possessed friends, I will say that Linda's possessed performance was truly disturbing. It's the only reason I didn't give the movie a "1" on the scare factor. The plausibility--or should I say the non-plausibility?--of the movie is ridiculous. You cannot tell me those people would have seen that creepy cabin in the woods and actually WANTED to stay there for a fun little weekend getaway. It's completely decrepit and scary in the daytime, let alone what they go on to experience throughout the night.
Only redeeming quality for me: The gore factor. It was pretty believable, like when Linda gets stabbed in the leg with a pencil. Also, "The Conjuring" (a recent horror flick I really enjoyed) was a throwback to old movies like "Evil Dead." So thanks, Raimi, for at least helping to facilitate that.