That damn book just won’t stay dead. Buried in the cobweb-strewn, skinned-cat-bedecked basement of a cabin in the woods is the Necronomicon Ex-Mortis—an ancient tome that unleashes literal Hell when someone speaks the demonic words within. Unfortunately for the human race (but fortunately for Beelzebub), a group of friends has gathered at this remote locale to help hophead Mia (Jane Levy) kick her drug habit. Withdrawal’s gonna be a bitch, but it’s a cakewalk compared to what’s in store when the hellion known as the Abomination is loosed.
Fire-and-brimstone teaser sequence notwithstanding, Fede Alvarez’s slick, hard-R remake of the 1981 cult horror hit by Sam Raimi takes its sweet, tedious time getting going. Mia’s addiction is a calculated narrative ploy to keep the fresh-faced quintet isolated until the bloody stuff begins; not once are you invested in her plight or in her tortured relationship with her estranged brother (Shiloh Fernandez). What really matters is seeing these pretty people get put through the gory wringer, and once the unholy spirit comes calling, Evil Dead more than delivers: Blood, piss and vomit flow copiously; bodies get hacked with electric slicers and chainsaws; our possessed antiheroine even does the Showgirls pole lick on the sharp side of an X-Acto knife. The sanguine showstoppers are almost enough to distract you from the fact that the movie is so interested in serving the ED fan base—that pandering postcredits cameo is especially ungroovy—that it never carves out a distinct identity all its own.
Follow Keith Uhlich on Twitter: @keithuhlich