Friday, April 05, 2013

Upon Seeing the New Evil Dead

(In which I ask myself some relevant questions.)


So Drew, I hear you saw The Evil Dead.

Yes, I did.

The original Evil Deads were kind of slapstick-y and funny. Was this movie like that?

No, it wasn’t. Not at all.

The trailer kind of made it look like a grueling experience — a degradation of the human body and spirit.

This would be an instance where the trailers aren’t misleading.

So why did you see it, exactly?

I’m not sure. I think it has something to do with the fact that I went to Disneyland earlier this week and needed, like, the opposite of Disneyland.

Did you win tickets or something?

No, I bought tickets.

That’s “tickets” in the plural.

Yes, there was a second person who also wanted to watch this movie. He kind of has a background in movies and special effects and all that, so I feel like he had a better excuse than I did.

Oh. Well, I see that cute little Jane Levy from Suburgatory was in it. She’s funny and sassy and Emma Stone-ish on TV. Did she get to be like that in this movie?

Well, at one point, when she’s possessed by the demon, she tells threatens to suck her brother’s cock. Some people laughed at that.

In the trailer it looked like she, well, made out with the thin edge of a box cutter and renders herself fissilingual.

You know it. Now I can say I’ve paid to see that happen in a movie theater. It was not the most disturbing thing to happen in the movie.

I heard there’s a prominent theme of drug addiction and the stress of trying to quit the habit. Might The Evil Dead be a good movie to watch if you’re struggling with substance abuse?

No. Oh, god no.

So did you like it?

I’m not sure I can say that I liked it, exactly. But I can tell you that it delivered everything I wanted it to.

Hey, remember when you say Django Unchained and had a problem with the level of violence in general but especially with the intensity of violence directed at its sole female character? Did you feel differently about this movie?

Yes. Even though the level of violence was much higher, though not exactly Dead Alive-level high, to the point where you can interpret it as silly, I’m weirdly more okay with The Evil Dead. I’m guessing that might be a result of Evil Dead not trying to situate its violence in a point in history or attempting any sort of message with it.

So pointless violence is better than meaningful violence?

When you say it like that, my theory sounds pretty fucking stupid, doesn’t it?

So I don’t care if you spoil this for me: Do any of the characters deserve all this hell?

No — people don’t deserve dismemberment. However, as far as narrative arcs are concerned, the horror experienced by Mia (Levy) is what she has to go through to exorcise her demons and overcome her drug dependency. After all, that’s why the characters go to the cabin to begin with: so Mia can dry out. That’s obvious. You could make a case that Olivia (Jessica Lucas) exerts a certain level of hubris in thinking that she, a nurse, could provide the level of care that a hospital would in helping Mia overcome her habit. Mia’s brother, Dave (Shiloh Fernandez) has to die, to compensate for leaving Mia to care for her mentally ill mother, the trauma of which probably caused Mia’s drug habit. And stupid Eric (Lou Taylor Pucci) is the one who reads from the Necronomicon, inviting the demonic presence to begin with, so that sealed his fate. That leaves Natalie (Elizabeth Blackmore), the least developed of the five characters. She doesn’t do anything that would warrant her awful fate, but she also basically doesn’t do anything one way or the other. There’s a moment when possessed Mia bites Natalie and then Natalie cuts off her hand in an effort to prevent getting turned. It doesn’t work, but there was a moment when I was wondering which of the characters would step up and become the hero. It might have been interesting if this limp dishrag of a woman had suddenly found a well of strength and saved the day — if she, now one-handed like Ash in the original seres — could have become the new Ash. That didn’t happen. Mia is the stronger character, and I guess her dying then being jolted back to life allowed the script to have her endure the most heinous torture and then come back as the hero. She sacrifices one of her hands too, BTW, before she dukes it out with her own evil self. Like Ash in Evil Dead 2. So yeah, Mia is the new Ash. But I also feel like Mia being the source of most of the evil but also eventually the hero is an example of the writers pissing down both legs — which literally happens, by the way, just to Olivia, before she cuts her face off with broken mirror shards. That I can’t do anything with. I’m not sure I’m supposed to do anything besides recoil in horror from it.

2 comments:

  1. I also saw this movie today. Despite having never seen a previous Evil Dead movie or any trailers for this film, I went simply because the person selling me popcorn at a different movie asked if I was going to see it, which made me feel like this was some sort of event. I wish that it had some of the humor that I've heard about in the previous films, and I was amazed at how stupid the characters often were. Of course, most horror movies wouldn't work if the characters were intelligent.

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    1. I am pretty with you on this, save for the point about the characters being all that stupid. They made some dumb decisions, like insisting on rehabbing her in the cabin or not blowing up the cabin when they had the chance. But I also feel like we overestimate how we'd act in this situation because (a) we wouldn't realize we were in a horror movie until it was too late, most likely, and (b) never having dealt with that kind of super-emergency, we don't know how we'd actually function if we were running from a psychotic murderer. I'd guess not well.

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