Nearly two weeks ago the official full red band trailer for Fede Alvarez' re-whatever-you-want-to-call-it of the classic "The Evil Dead" was released. I have purposely avoided almost all news coverage of the movie because I was not entirely sure that making this film was the right thing to do and I wanted to keep an open mind about the whole thing.
Then the one sheet that was released sent shock waves around the internet. Everyone said "it's so bold" and "sets the bar very high" when, in fact, they're doing the exact kind of boasting Sam Raimi and co. did when their film was released. This one sheet promises "the most terrifying film you will ever experience." The original poster called the film: "the most ferociously original horror film of the year," a quote from the one and only Stephen King. This one sheet is not a big deal. It is, however, a good idea and a nice throw-back to the original. (+1 and -1 at the same time.)
Now they've brought out the big guns: a full red band trailer (which really means a trailer that can actually show violence, gore, and can have swearing). Here are my thoughts:
Firstly, I love that Alvarez is refusing to say this is a remake and/or a sequel. According to him, "it's [...] a story that takes place 30 years after "The Evil Dead" ended. The car (from the first film) is there (at the cabin, +1). [...] New kids will encounter it and suffer its wrath. Is "Evil Dead" a sequel then? Maybe. But the problem with the sequel theory would be that there's too many coincidences between the events [of the two films] to have happened on a continuous story line." (+1) The trailer promises just this, as one title card claims it is a "new vision of evil." (+1)
This is accentuated by the direct homages to the original series: they have to cut off the girls' head, put it in a plastic bag, and the assault by tree. (+2) I also love that there are no - count them, zero - CGI effects shots. Everything was done practically. (+5)
Currently, the trailer has 10 points in its favor. And that is all it will have.
My major problems with this trailer are in its poor editing. A trailer is all editing, and this is so nonsensical it ruins the entire thing. I have no idea who any of these characters are. They may want to sell it as an ensemble, but the shots between the kids when they're find and when they've become a Deadite are too choppy. Who's the main character? Who is that blond girl that shows up only twice? (-2) And then there's the guy in the blue work shirt. This is NOT supposed to be a remake, so there is NOT supposed to be an Ash Williams. There's no Bruce Campbell. But this guy is dressed exactly like Ash. If it's not a remake, don't put in things like that. (-1) And that girl doesn't need to cut off her arm with a chainsaw, and that guy that may/may not be a stand-in for Ash doesn't need to look like he just cut off his arm either. This isn't "Evil Dead II: Dead by Dawn." (-1)
And now let's talk about gore. Yes, the original series is full of gore, and people getting their hands/limbs cut off with chainsaws, or they get a pencil to the ankle, etc. There's even a fountain of blood that threatens to drown someone. I know this. I've seen it the movies a million times. But this trailer has ALL of those things and more. It seems like they threw in every shot that had blood just to show how violent it is. That does not impress anyone other than kids and people who mistakenly think blood and gore are the same thing as substance. They are not. (-5) A red band trailer show showcase scares. A girl cutting her face in two with a shard of glass is scary. Blood literally flying at the screen is not.
And then there's the "thinking" editing, where text is interspersed with dialogue and images. I mean, of course, the main quote at the beginning, where the main character is whispering she needs to get out of there. What she's saying is actually scary. But it takes a full 47 seconds - I timed it - for her 4 sentences to be said. If they'd left it alone it would have been frightening; instead it's just choppy and loses all intensity. (-3, for poor judgment, editing, and wasting good airtime.)
Finally, let me remark on the final image of both the teaser and full red band trailers: a girl cutting her tongue in two, down the middle, with a box cutter. This is definitely the right image to end with on all levels. So good. But then she has to go and kiss the blond. Why? Yes, this has a gross-out factor, but you don't need it. You've obviously put all your disgusting stock in the blood and guts, so please don't insult me now by trying to make me squirm. It takes all the shock away from the original scare. (-2)
Final score: +10/-14 = -4. A good trailer that turned bad.