Another week, another Horror Movie Marathon. Well, last week I actually found a great movie. Hausu is now up there among some of my favorite horror films. So I figure I got a treat last week, I should have to suffer this week. So I picked three remakes, to horror movies I loved. The Thing, Evil Dead, and Poltergeist. Can any of them break the mold and actually be an effective horror movie remake? No. No, they cannot. I hate myself for watching these three movies. Note I am breaking my own rules this week, as I have seen these three movies before, but they are worth talking about.
The Thing (2011)
I have talked about John Carpenter’s The Thing before. You can read my review of it here. Some of the things I loved about it was the great practical effects, the characters, the atmosphere, and the fact it is also a mystery and leaves us to wonder who is a Thing.
None of those qualities are present in this prequel. For one, there is not a single character for us to really care about here. They mistook quantity, for quality. There are a lot of characters here, but none of them are very easy to remember. There are recognizable actors, but that is not the same as recognizable characters. The original gave us an intro to the characters, got us to care about them, and then started killing them. This movie was a bit impatient. It kind of tried to introduce us to the characters, but there are so many of them, they bungled it up. I had a hard time telling some of these characters apart, and at times found myself asking, “Wait, who is that?” when someone dies.
They also decided to use mostly CGI effects, which look like garbage. But don’t just take my word for it. Watch this scene from the movie.
I can only speak for myself, but computer effects do not scare me. At least not when they look this fake. In what world is what we see in this scene scary. Even if this looked great, this scene was misplaced. It happens fairly early on in the movie and was completely unearned. No sense of dread was built up to this point. There is no hint of mystery or suspense here. The dude just turns into a monster and shoots some CGI tentacles at the other guy.
The movie has no atmosphere. Most of the action happens on screen. There is very little of the paranoia from the first movie. The first movie was so careful and subtle with deciding what to show. When it decided to show you that someone was a Thing, it was earned, and it was executed in a way that elicited genuine horror. In this movie, they just show someone transform anywhere they feel they can get a cheap scare.
Another problem I have in the movie, is why did we need the random American characters? This is supposed to be about the Norweigan base that was shown in the original. Which, as far as ideas for prequels go, is a good jumping off point. But they decided to throw some American characters into the mix, because that way, the characters all have a reason to speak English. Would it be so bad to have the film be in another language? I think a film where everyone is speaking Norwegian would have been cool.
Now technically this movie is not a remake. But I still wanted to talk about it, because screw Universal. Universal is infamous for making dubious copyright claims on reviews of their movies that are fair use. Chris Stuckman is currently dealing with several claims from Universal.
Adam from YMS is dealing with them as well.
Even when Youtube critics don’t use any footage from the movie, and just share their opinion, Universal acts like a dick and makes a copyright claim. This not a new trend for them, they do it all the time. So I partly felt like crapping on one of their movies, because they are acting like scumbags. People are allowed to use clips from your movie in a review or parody. They are literally taking money out of the hands of critics by doing this.
So basically The Thing(2011) sucks. It looks awful and loses all of what made the original so good. If you have never watched it, then don’t. it is garbage.
Do Not Watch This Movie
Evil Dead (2013)
Some people actually like this movie. Not really sure why, but there is a crowd who says things like “it is pretty good for a remake,” and “the gore is great.” And while I will agree that the movie has some good gore, that is all it has to offer.
Here is the thing. The original was not a great movie, in fact, it had massive flaws. But many of those flaws were endearing qualities. The overall campy tone made the continuity errors, the mediocre effects, and bad acting, positive qualities. And the flaws are understandable because they made the movie on a micro-budget. This remake had tons of money and still looked bad. And its serious and dark tone made it harder to forgive those flaws. If you are going to try to be serious and artsy, you are going to be held to higher standards. These are standards this film failed to live up to.
The movie does not use CGI that often, but when it does, it looks awful. Like in this scene, where there is a CGI fire.
The bad acting in the original is funny and charming. The bad acting in the remake is just distracting. The poorly written bland characters in the first one were bearable, the bad characters here were annoying.
I did not need them to remake Evil Dead as the same campy movie. I kind of like that they tried to change it up and make it a straight horror film. The lore and concept of Evil Dead lends itself to both styles. But the movie mistook gore for horror.
The movie sometimes does that shaky cam thing when something scary happens. So many movies that are not shaky cam movies, will still shake the camera for some reason. I do not understand why directors think this makes sense. The camera only shakes in movies like Blair Witch, and Cloverfield, because someone is holding it. Someone who is scared will have a hard time holding the camera straight. But in a movie shot on normal cameras, why would the god damn camera be shaking? All I can picture when this happens is a cameraman shaking the camera in the studio. It does not scare me, it makes me laugh.
So much stupid crap happens in this movie. There is a point where they have to get a gun from one of the girls who is possessed. She falls down and drops the gun. While she is passed out, one of the characters shouts to another to grab the gun while they can. Instead of standing up, she decided to crawl across the room slowly. WHY? There is another point where someone shoots a jerry can, and it blows up. Gas does not work that way. You can’t just shoot a gas can, and make it explode. This type of thing would be fine in the older movies because it would be done in a tongue in cheek style. But here, they do it in a serious way, and it is just dumb.
This movie is bad. If you want gore, there are better ways to see it.
Do Not Watch This Movie.
I talked about this movie a bit in my Rankings of Movie Jump Scares article. Oddly enough, Evil Dead was a remake of a Sam Raimi movie, while this Poltergeist remake was produced by Sam Raimi.
Like the other movies on this list, the major thing this remake lacks compared to the original is subtlety. The first one builds up horror like a brick wall. Laying brick by brick, creating a foundation, before knocking it all down in a grand finale. This remake just keeps doing jump scare after jump scare, with all the subtlety of the kool-aid man, thinking it will scare us.
Let’s take a look at two similar scenes from each movie, more specifically the “They’re here,” scenes from each movie.
The scene in the original is classic and slowly builds up the tension. It is loud when it has to be but is also quiet. There is not a ton of movement, it lingers in the one room with minimal camera movement. Now let’s look at this scene in the remake.
This scene is all over the place. First, it feels the need to give us a tour of the house for no reason. But on that tour, it has to make all types of noises, and throw in random spooky things. It is overkill before the actual scare even starts. It is the same problem I had with the clown scene in the movie. More, in this case, is less. When there is just jump scare after jump scare, the audience becomes desensitized. You can only shock someone so many times. Why did they feel the need to move this scene out of the bedroom? Why they feel the need to make the scene so loud?
With the exception of Sam Rockwell, the acting was much worse in this movie. The effects were somehow worse as well. There is a scene later where there is a ghost girl for no reason, and it looks awful.
Of these three remakes, this is probably the least bad, but it is still bad.
Do Not Watch This Movie