Neither awful nor good, this Evil Dead remake is forgettable.
Despite, in many ways, being effective as new-era horror, providing ample jump scares and even more gross out gore.
In that way, the lighting helps. Without ever being blatant, it cues us what is happening with characters, helping us predict whom the demon will next effect. Initially, we know that Olivia (Jessica Lucas) is in trouble not because the actor or screenplay foreshadow it, but because she is ominously lit with just enough subtlety to provide visual reference.
The film’s audio is less effective, if only because it is too obvious and loud. Perhaps Writer/Director Fede Alvarez thinks louder means scarier, but here volume has the opposite effect, sometimes overwhelming the visuals. Ditto that for the obviousness of the auditory cues. Frequently enough we know we’re about to see something scary (or disgusting), because the music or audio design declares it before we see it, which in turn dulls the image’s impact.
The plot’s absurdity hinders the picture, as well. Obviously, this remake is no more or less preposterous than the original, but the 1981 version used humor to offset such silliness. Here humor is absent, however, so the absurdity proves distracting. As one trite example, neither air nor electric nail guns are as powerful as Evil Dead would have us believe.
Some of the effects, whether natural or digital, are equally distracting.
Yet, the actors are committed enough to maintain our attention. Jane Levy (Mia), Lou Taylor Pucci (Eric) and Shiloh Fernandez (David) all find enough humanity to make us care.
Oddly, so does the screenplay, despite its ridiculousness. The characters and their relationships receive just enough attention to generate moderate concern, even without three dimensional development.
So it is that Evil Dead remains entertaining enough to survive its run-time. Its flaws exceed its merits, but it manages to be watchable all the same.