Sports News Without Access, Favor, Or Discretion

1. A good rule of thumb: If you are holding a book in your hands and you notice that someone has gone to the trouble of shutting that book with barbed wire, do not attempt to open this book. If you do open this book, then do not read from it–particularly when previous patrons of the Satan Public Library have scrawled "GET AWAY FROM THIS BOOK" and "DO NOT READ THIS ALOUD" all over the pages, in blood. And if you do read from this book ... well, I suppose you have what's coming your way. Still: I feel like the best way to avoid reading from the book of the dead, all told, is just to put a big "TL;DR" on the cover. Wonder if it still conjures up demons if you read it on a Kindle.

2. That book is the central text of the Evil Dead movies, both the three original Sam Raimi films and this month's remake from Uruguayan director Fede Alvarez (who made the terrific short Panic Attack!), put together with the explicit approval of Raimi and his cohort in the early films, actor Bruce Campbell. Those Raimi films are thought of as gross-out slapstick comedy bits more than actual horror films, but the original film, the one this one is nodding to, was straight-up low-budget terror, with a lot less self-referential winking. One of the things I like about this remake is that it's far more interested in shocking you than in making you giggle; it doesn't wear its self-awareness on its sleeve. It's trying to conjure up that anything-goes spirit of the original–with, of course, buckets and buckets of blood.


3. Seriously, I'd recommend wearing galoshes to the theater for this one. Alvarez has said his goal was to go as over-the-top as possible, and boy howdy, did he ever. There is one character who, honestly, I think is stabbed more than 100 times, via five different implements, on three different occasions. (To be fair: He's the one who read from the book, so he sorta had it coming.) There were, by my count, four different moments in which my audience audibly gasped, particularly during one scene involving a knife, a tongue, and a sudden, horrific hunger. Also: There are many, many dismemberments, and every snap and gristle is amplified for effect. It's like if 127 Hours actually ran for 127 hours.

4. For a horror movie, none of this is particularly new, and deep-diving fans of schlock horror won't find much here that they haven't seen tons of times before. (Even the evil violating demon tree feels like a trope at this point.) And even with the mythos of the book and the necronomicon and all that, I still never quite understood what exactly turned someone into a demon, what brought them back, how you ended the curse, so on, and I'm not sure the movie really understands (or cares) either. The movie has a smart idea about why all these young people are at this abandoned cabin in the first place–they're trying to help the main heroine kick a heroin habit, which makes her initial freakouts after being possessed by the demon seem like withdrawal pangs–but it drops it once the blood gets flowing. I'd love to read an alternative take on the film that supposes the whole thing is her detoxing fever nightmare, though I don't think even the Trainspotting guys ever saw anybody cut someone's skull in half with a chainsaw.


5. A lot of the film is blatant Ain't It Cool News fan-service slash-fiction; the nods to the original film(s) are just subtle enough to make sure the true "fans" get it. But I still admired that the movie didn't go too far in that direction; Alvarez (who I bet ends up having a long career that's marked by a lot of non-horror films, like Raimi himself) is skilled enough to spring each surprise with maximum effect. The movie is over-the-top, sure, but not cartoonishly so; it legitimately wants to scare you, even while you're chuckling at the audaciousness of it all. It's not great, it's not quite as anarchic as the original or as you want it to be, but as a gorefest aiming to pop you out of your seat a few times, it does the trick. Maybe by the inevitable sequel someone will figure out to keep that goddamned book closed.

Grade: B.

Grierson and Leitch write regularly for Deadspin about movies. Follow them @griersonleitch.

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