Evil Dead and Unrealistic Expectations of Blood-Loss

I’m, ostensibly, a horror game reviewer, but there haven’t been that many big, juicy targets pecking around the field lately to take pot-shots at, so I’ve just been making do with whatever scavenging game I can pick off from my comfy balcony in Manhattan. (Disclaimer: I don’t live anywhere near Manhattan). However, I realize that, even with my latest review up, I’ve got a perfect opportunity to talk about horror. Mind you, it’s not a horror game, but it is horror, so we’re on the right track.

Before we get down to Evil Dead (2013), I want to direct you to one of Chuck from Counter-Attack!’s latest posts about regimentally ordering games by their merit. I would say very latest, but he’s pretty prolific, so who knows what he’s churned out since then. Also, if you haven’t watched the movie, I’d say go give it a watch, despite what I’m about to say, it’s a pretty fantastic flick with an epic conclusion. Go on, I’ll wait…

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Welcome back! How was it? … Great to hear/sorry to hear that! When I went to see it, I was seated directly in front of a small child, so I was understandably worried that he might kick my seat and scream through it, especially given the fact that he kept telling his mom that he might end up screaming. Thankfully, he didn’t scream and he didn’t kick my seat… after I asked him to stop doing it in the first place. He learned, though, nice kid. The reason I bring this up is because he didn’t scream. I suppose he probably cringed, but he wasn’t brought to the edge of terror and, honestly, neither was I. While I have to admit that I grew up steeped in horror and lore, and that well made video games are probably more engaging in a horrific sense than movies, I still couldn’t see myself being frightened by the movie.

Oh, I cringed quite a few times. There were a couple scenes that were pretty hard to watch, actually. Well, no, but they made me grin through the anxiety they provoked, especially the scene where the one girl cuts off her arm with a meat saw. Then, there was the scene where the girl is carving her face with a piece of glass and you can hear the wet, sloppy sound of a rough edge cutting through flesh. Masterful scenes of cringe, let down only slightly by the obvious prosthetics they required, but you can’t really blame them for not cutting their own arms off; they would have passed out half-way through or bled to death. Aha! Herein lies the crux of my problem with this movie: the characters.

The script was alright, and many people liked that they actually contrived a reason for them to stay out at the cabin this time, but the characters all shared one problem: they were tough as fucking nails. I’m not complaining about their personalities, because those were alright, I’m talking about the amount of punishment they could take before they started to care. Some of them honestly didn’t react to it and, when the character on the screen isn’t passing out from blood-loss, then I’m just not feeling the consequences of the actions that took place. There are many emotional components to good horror and one of them is a sense of the consequences of actions. You got us going with the actual damage, part of us actually feels a ghost of the percussive force or physical pain, so you’ve got us anxious. All that remains after that is a sense of what happened to the character afterwards. Oh. Whoops. Let me recount to you some of the damage that one of the characters took: he smashed his back on a toilet, got stabbed with a needle, got stabbed with a long piece of glass, got shot with nails from a nail-gun in the arm, chest and leg, got wailed on by a crowbar, had his hand decimated by same crowbar, and was finally lain out by a stab wound to the stomach from a girl possessed by Satan. Holy crap! That guy was a tank! No… he was a skinny high school teacher.

You see what I mean? Any one of those things would have sent a regular person into some sort of shock, but he was up and about smashing heads with the best of them. Okay, he was acting injured, but not as injured as he was. Adrenaline can do a lot, but it doesn’t block out all pain, and it eventually fades. He wasn’t the only one, either. Maybe desecrated sites naturally increase endorphin flow, but I like to think it’s more the result of having a limited cast. You’ve got to make each member of your victim-list last, otherwise no one really has a personal journey to anywhere but a meat shop. It still takes some of the effect out of the effects, though.

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The male lead, if you can call him that (it was kind of an ensemble), was a bit thick, too. I understand the emotions and trauma that were affecting him, but that’s no excuse for being wilfully ignorant of everything going on around you. This happens until the other half of the good/evil dichotomy strikes a tree with lightning and he suddenly becomes uber-competent… if still a bit stupid. Dude, if the chlorpromazine didn’t do anything the first time, there’s no way it’s going to work when she can float on water. I’m really curious how he thought things were going to work out when he went down into that basement… whatever. Anyway, that’s the second problem I have with the film. Everyone was a little too good at everything besides staying alive; they lacked some humanity. Sure, one of them was a nurse, but the male lead dude was able to rig up a defibrillator from two needles and a car battery. I get that he was a mechanic, but he performs some serious triage over the course of the movie (with duct tape, hilariously enough) and seems a little too good with that shotgun. Then again, he was a mechanic, so some of that makes sense.  His sister is equally skilled, once she stops being possessed, in many others areas. I think it’s just the whole family.

They just didn’t feel human. One of my friends put it this way, “What do you expect? They’re horror movie protagonists; where they’re supposed to have organs, they just have more blood.” That’s all well and good, but I would have gotten out of the house when it was obvious that it had recently been broken into by a murder cult. Clearly, your sister shouldn’t be detoxing in this particular environment.

The rest of the movie was alright and the climax was excellent! (Pro-tip: Stay after the credits on this one) I just didn’t feel like there was much weight to many of the events, especially after one of the guys appears to murder his girlfriend in the bathroom and no one really suspects anything, but they still don’t seem to think the Satanic cult thing is a serious problem. Pick one! Either they think there’s something going on or they don’t, but you can’t have it both ways. Real people have emotions and make silly decisions, but they’re usually consistent and not script convenient. Also, if you want to scare us, stop panning around and screeching on violins before something is about to pop out. I know that music can help build tension, but over-exposure to anything makes it predictable. We’re pattern-reading animals, we’re going to get the message.

I hope this hasn’t spoiled too much, and if you think it has, then go see the movie anyway. It’s worth a watch, if only for the experience. Besides, it’s an Evil Dead movie, we kind of know what’s going on here already. Just sit back, relax and enjoy the splatter.

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2 Responses to “Evil Dead and Unrealistic Expectations of Blood-Loss”

  1. the real problem is poor directing. I dont mind gore, or blood in a movie, unless its just there because the director needs to fill another five minute gap in the limited script. Directors today have no clue how to use atmosphere, or timing.

    • An apt criticism of the movie; I felt like i’ve harped too much on timing in the past and needed a new target, but I agree. Atmosphere and timing are essential elements of horror. To be honest, I felt like there were a few moments when the atmosphere thickened, but they weren’t handled well enough to produce a memorable effect overall.

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