I could never be a character in a horror movie, at least not a main character. Not so much because I scare too easily — that’s probably an asset in a character in a horror movie — but because I’d be trying so hard to be cautious that the scary stuff would take forever to get going. In this case, for example, everything starts when someone cuts open a lot of wire and tears into a thick plastic bag in order to read the scary old book bound in human skin. I know, right? He seemed sensible otherwise, but wow.
I could never be a character in a horror movie, at least not a main character. Not so much because I scare too easily — that’s probably an asset in a character in a horror movie — but because I’d be trying so hard to be cautious that the scary stuff would take forever to get going. In this case, for example, everything starts when someone cuts open a lot of wire and tears into a thick plastic bag in order to read the scary old book bound in human skin. I know, right? He seemed sensible otherwise, but wow. You would think someone would have tried harder to stop him, since that’s got to be right at the top of any list of Things Not to Do in a Horror Flick.
The aforementioned Darwin Award candidate is Eric, played by Lou Taylor Pucci. Eric teaches high school, so no wonder kids these days don’t seem to have any common sense. He and his friends Olivia (Jessica Lucas, Cloverfield) and Mia (Jane Levy) are at Mia’s family’s cabin for the weekend. Mia is detoxing, which is perfect for a horror movie, of course, and this is probably the start of a trend. She’s the only one who sees the scary stuff at first, but all her warnings and terrifying descriptions of what happened to her are neatly dismissed by the others as the delusional ravings of a drug addict. That’s exactly what they would sound like, so for once you can’t just say the characters are being dense because it’s in the script.
Also along are Mia’s older brother David (Shiloh Fernandez, Red Riding Hood) and David’s girlfriend Natalie (Elizabeth Blackmore). If you rearrange the initials of the five main characters, you get the word ‘demon’, which is handy. Anyway, unbeknownst to them, the cabin’s cellar has recently been used by some unsavory backwoods types for some unsavory rituals, though to be fair they mean well and it isn’t their fault that demon-banishing is so messy and unpleasant. It is their fault that they leave the scary old book bound in human skin lying around for anyone to find, but they might have thought the cabin was utterly abandoned, since it isn’t in good shape.
Nosy Eric reads an incantation — aloud, for some inexplicable reason — which a previous reader has helpfully transliterated into English letters. It’s a shame that it didn’t work out to ‘fhtahdst’ or something equally unpronounceable. It’s also a shame that it only takes four little words to summon a demon. Who knew that conjuring an evil entity from the depths of hell was easier than ordering a turkey club sandwich on wheat toast, easy on the mayo?
But the point is that the summoning is ridiculously easy and before you can say ‘Klaatu barada nikto,’ there’s a demon traipsing around possessing people. Soon I was grateful that the cabin was so dimly lit, since it helped to hide the worst of the blood. There are shotguns, axes, chainsaws (naturally), an electric carving knife (ew), and a nail gun, though I’m pretty sure it isn’t possible to use a nail gun quite like that. And it only gets worse from there, unfortunately. It’s rather like watching a Saw movie, though at least it doesn’t involve all sorts of weird traps and other contraptions, and was somewhat less nausea-inducing in general.
So I’m willing to go a little higher here than I did for that Saw debacle — let’s say three and three-quarters out of five. I don’t know, four seems just a touch too high somehow. It lacked much of the quirkiness of the original, mainly since it had a budget, I suppose, and I guess I missed that. And the ending seemed too drawn out and a bit predictable. There is a tiny little scene after the credits, though, and overall the audience seemed to be having a good time. And despite the reboot, you can still expect to see Army of Darkness 2 appear sometime in 2016. Groovy.