Dir: Sonny Laguna, Tommy Wiklund
Star: Patrik Almkvist, Lisa Henni, Johannes Brost, Patrick Saxe

Despite the lowish grade, it's not to say that this is bad: it's energetic enough, certainly doesn't skimp on the gore, and has its fair share of cringe-inducing moments. However, the bottom line here is: if I wanted to watch The Evil Dead, I will watch The Evil Dead, rather than a Swedish remake that, in some ways, is closer to the original than the actual remake. It's almost completely shameless, and deserves demerits for not bothering to come with any significant ideas of its own. Oh, there's waffle about creatures from Swedish folklore called Vittra (also the Swedish word for "wither", hence the otherwise largely inexplicable title) that live under the ground, but what you actually have is a straightforward "spam in a cabin" tale, with a group of kids going off to an empty house in the woods. Admittedly, since 76% of Sweden is covered by forests, the most of any European country (only Finland and Estonia even reach 60%; the UK is at 12%), one imagines finding a cabin not in the woods would be a more unusual achievement.

Beyond that obvious and basic similarity, we have a book, a cellar, and a rapidly expanding circle of infection by bite or scratch, which can only be terminated by enthusiastic application of the old ultraviolence. Sound familiar? What it doesn't have, however, are two important factors which made The Evil Dead such a classic: Sam Raimi's amazing camerawork, and Bruce Campbell. The directors here are content just to point the camera at the unfolding mayhem, and Almkvist simply doesn't grab the audience's attention in the same way, as his character goes through the transformative arc which can only be the result of inflicting copious dismemberment. You get the feeling this was almost made more as a calling-card the makers could sent to Hollywood: there is certainly evidence of talent, it's just a shame they didn't choose to apply it to a more original story, perhaps delving deeper into the mythos of the Vittra. Instead, this comes over as a third-generation photocopy of a classic: still recognizable and possessing a few of the same strengths e.g. anyone can die at any time, yet no substitute for the real thing.

[December 2014]

The Swe-vil Dead
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