Update of iconic '81 horror 'Evil Dead' is gorefest
What critics are saying By Jane Horwitz, The Washington Post
It'll be tough to keep high-school-age horror gourmets away from this remake of Sam Raimi's iconic gore-fest "Evil Dead" trio ("The Evil Dead," NC-17, 1981; "Evil Dead II," X, 1987; "Army of Darkness," aka "Army of Darkness -- Evil Dead III," R, 1992). This new "Evil Dead" is certainly not for high-schoolers under 16 or anyone not a fan of slasher/horror/zombie movies. The demon-possessed victims hack off their own arms and attack one another with shotguns, nail guns, chain saws, tire irons, hammers and more. The blood doesn't just flow, it flies. The film is not particularly well-acted or pithy, and it's not nearly as scary as advertised, but it sticks to the formula and does the job. Five young people meet at a cabin in the woods -- where else? Mia (Jane Levy) has come there determined to beat her drug habit, going cold turkey with the help of her brother, David (Shiloh Fernandez), his girlfriend, Natalie (Elizabeth Blackmore), and friends Eric (Lou Taylor Pucci) and Olivia (Jessica Lucas). They find dead cats hanging in the cabin's smelly cellar and a book full of mysterious incantations and creepy images. Eric utters some of the words aloud, and suddenly the already messed-up Mia goes all peculiar. At first they ascribe it to drug withdrawal, but her demonic possession becomes quite violently evident. Speaking through Mia, it promises to kill them all. A prologue shows a father killing his possessed daughter in the same cabin years earlier. We're talking super-gory violence -- faces sliced open, bodies rent asunder, stabbings, shootings and vomiting blood. Some of the violence takes on a sexual tinge. The finale of several minutes features nonstop carnage. A pet is found murdered, though its wounds aren't graphically depicted. Characters use strong profanity.
The Croods (PG)
A prehistoric family embarks on a journey to find a new home after their cave is destroyed. Written and directed by Kirk DeMicco and Chris Sanders and available in 3-D, this animated adventure features the voices of Nicolas Cage, Ryan Reynolds, Emma Stone and Catherine Keener.
Escape From Planet Earth (PG)
In this animated film, a nerdy blue alien endeavors to rescue his brother, a famous astronaut, from the notoriously dangerous planet Earth. Written and directed by Cal Brunker and available in 3-D, this alien adventure features the voices of Brendan Fraser, Sarah Jessica Parker, Jessica Alba and George Lopez.
Oz the Great and Powerful (PG)
A small-time circus magician finds himself hurled from Kansas to the fantastical land of Oz, where he tries to transform himself into a great wizard. Written by Mitchell Kapner and David Lindsay-Abaire, and directed by Sam Raimi, this "Wizard of Oz" prequel is available in 3-D and stars James Franco, Mila Kunis, Rachel Weisz and Michelle Williams.
A strait-laced Princeton admissions officer visiting an alternative high school run by a former college classmate is caught off guard when she meets a gifted young man who might be the son she gave up for adoption years ago. Written by Karen Croner and directed by Paul Weitz, this romantic comedy stars Tina Fey, Paul Rudd and Michael Sheen.
G.I. Joe: Retaliation
Members of an elite special-ops force face off against an international terrorist organization while dealing with threats from within their own government. Written by Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick, directed by Jon M. Chu and available in 3-D, this military thrill ride stars Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, Bruce Willis, Channing Tatum and Adrianne Palicki.
On a future Earth occupied by alien parasites that take over human bodies, one of humanity's last survivors fights to protect her loved ones. Written and directed by Andrew Niccol, this dystopian teen love story stars Saoirse Ronan, Max Irons, Jake Abel and Chandler Canterbury.
The Incredible Burt Wonderstone
Two superstar magicians who have long ruled the Las Vegas Strip together face cracks in their friendship and stiff competition from an edgy street magician. Written by Jonathan Goldstein and John Francis Daley, and directed by Don Scardino, this oddball comedy stars Steve Carell, Steve Buscemi, Olivia Wilde and Jim Carrey.
Jack the Giant Slayer
A young farmhand unwittingly opens a gateway to a world inhabited by fearsome giants and reignites an ancient war. Written by Darren Lemke, Christopher McQuarrie and Dan Studney, and directed by Bryan Singer, this fairy tale adventure, available in 3-D, stars Nicholas Hoult, Ewan McGregor, Eleanor Tomlinson and Stanley Tucci.
Jurassic Park 3-D
This is a new 3-D conversion of the 1993 adventure film about an island theme park inhabited by cloned dinosaurs. Written by Michael Crichton and David Koepp and directed by Steven Spielberg, this sci-fi thriller stars Sam Neill, Laura Dern and Jeff Goldblum.
Newly arrived in a small town in North Carolina, a guarded young woman begins opening up to a widowed store owner and father of two, but soon her dark past begins to catch up with her. Written by Dana Stevens and Gage Lansky and directed by Lasse Hallstrom, this straight-ahead romance stars Josh Duhamel, Julianne Hough and David Lyons.
Tyler Perry's Temptation
A marriage counselor throws her own marriage and career into chaos when she falls for her newest client, a handsome young billionaire. Written and directed by Tyler Perry, this drama of betrayal stars Jurnee Smollett-Bell, Lance Gross and Robbie Jones.
21 and Over
When his two best friends pay him a surprise visit for his 21st birthday, a straight-A college student throws caution to the wind for a wild night, despite having an important medical school interview the next morning. Written and directed by Jon Lucas and Scott Moore, this bustin'-out buddy comedy stars Miles Teller, Justin Chon and Skylar Astin.
A 911 operator who takes a call from an abducted teenager must confront a killer from her own past to save the girl's life. Written by Richard D'Ovidio and directed by Brad Anderson, this killer thriller stars Halle Berry, Abigail Breslin and Morris Chestnut.
An account representative travels halfway across the country to confront the con artist who has stolen his identity and is emptying his bank account. Written by Craig Mazin and directed by Seth Gordon, this oddball comedy stars Jason Bateman, Melissa McCarthy, Jon Favreau and Amanda Peet.
Olympus Has Fallen
A disgraced Secret Service agent is called back to duty when the White House is taken over by terrorists. Written by Katrin Benedikt and Creighton Rothenberger, and directed by Antoine Fuqua, this explosive action thriller stars Gerard Butler, Morgan Freeman and Melissa Leo.
Silver Linings Playbook
After losing his wife, house and job and spending eight months in a mental institution, a former teacher moves in with his parents, tries to rebuild his life and bonds with an equally eccentric young woman. Written and directed by David O. Russell, this offbeat drama stars Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Robert De Niro and Jacki Weaver.
Four bored college girls set off for a spring fling in Florida that erupts into a bacchanal of booze, drugs and violence. Written and directed by Harmony Korine, this genre-bending drama stars James Franco, Selena Gomez and Vanessa Hudgens.
With contributions from our wire services
A look at the star power of films now in theaters (out of four stars).
G.I. Joe: Retaliation½
Incredible Burt Wonderstone
Jurassic Park 3-D½
Olympus Has Fallen½
Oz the Great½
Silver Linings Playbook
From our wire services