It's "the most terrifying film you will ever experience," Evil Dead would have us believe via its movie poster.
Is it gory? Sure. This is one of the most disgusting movies I've ever seen, grading strictly on a scale of blood and guts. But terrifying? Hardly. Unless there's some fright to be found in how damn depressing it is to see Hollywood once again attempt to recapture the glory of the past instead of doing something new.
It's even more depressing when the original 1981 Evil Dead, from writer and director Sam Raimi, was a reaction to a lack of creativity in horror films. How the hell could Raimi give his stamp of approval to this slap in the face to his own work? (Raimi doesn't merely approve — he's a producer and so helped get this made.) How the hell could he not have understood that what made his film work so well was that his lack of a reasonable filmmaking budget forced him to be wildly inventive?
This is why it was almost inevitable that any remake of Evil Dead was going to feel bland and generic. Because everything that made Evil Dead unique has long since been co-opted by the genre and had its uniqueness squeezed out of it by rote repetition. This is exactly the sort of movie that last year's ingenious Cabin in Woods rendered wholly irrelevant, precisely because it was itself a reaction to all the Evil Dead copycats we've endured over the past 30 years.
And so it is a flat and flavorless band of twentysomethings who head to a cabin in the woods, where they will be slaughtered by demons. The script, by director Fede Alvarez, Rodo Sayagues and the increasingly overrated Diablo Cody, has to invent a new reason for said twentysomethings to head to said cabin — and then stay there, even when demonic shit starts to hit the fan. It's this: One of them (Jane Levy) is going cold turkey on her drug habit.
There's some thematic potential in the notion that drug addiction and withdrawal is akin to demonic possession, but that's not dealt with in any interesting way here. It cannot be, as long as the demonic possession is actually supposed to be real, and not a metaphoric thing.
It's real, of course, coming via a book of dark-magic spells and other nasty stuff that gets read by the gang even though it's wrapped in barbed wire and has "Leave this book alone" written on it in blood. These kids are dumb, naturally, and partly as a consequence also not very interesting.
"I can smell your filthy soul," the demon in the body of one of the Scooby gang hisses at another, and gee, wouldn't it be interesting if we too got a hint of that filthy soul? That could be an intriguing twist: Maybe these younglings deserve to die at the hands of vengeful demons. But no. They really are nothing more than fodder for demonic attack.
As it turns out, the demons prove pretty easy to dispatch, though not until most of them are already dead. Sucks for them.
Sucks for us, too. We really have seen this all before.