Army of Darkness

May 18, 2010
Evil Dead II was arguably Sam Raimi's magnum opus. It perfectly balanced the best elements of horror and comedy, ultimately leading to a film that was just plain entertaining to watch. So, with the huge acclaim behind Army of Darkness by Raimi fans, one would assume that the last of the Evil Dead trilogy would be the best. The truth? Army of Darkness is the weakest entry in the horror/comedy trilogy and, possibly, one of Sami Raimi's weaker films.

After a quick recap of The Evil Dead and Evil Dead II, Army of Darkness picks up where the last film left off (more or less), with Ash being taken captive by knights during the era of Medieval England. Soon enough, Ash becomes a hero to the people and is declared to be the "Hero From the Sky" - a prophesied figure that is said to have the power to end the terror of the Deadites. From there, the film unfolds in Ash's battle against the undead in his quest to return home.

Unlike the previous two films, there is very little focus on horror in this entry. Though its obviously present, it lacks the same impact and atmosphere that it had in the previous Evil Dead movies. Not only that, but the horror feels ridiculously cheesy this time around. I'm not saying that it wasn't cheesy in the previous films, but the humor felt tongue-in-cheek there. In Army of Darkness, however, we're subjected to yelling skeletons and "Evil Ash" - an awful attempt at including a major antagonist.

The humor's really been dumbed down as well, possibly because the film tries to be more mainstream. Instead of the dark humor of demons bursting in explosions of scrambled-egg-like guts or decomposed corpses dancing, we're substituted with a barrage of slapstick. Slapstick can really only go so far, and watching a guy get punched in the face several times isn't funny - it's just boring. The humor feels recycled from dozens of other slapstick movies, and it makes the whole experience feel very unlike the other Evil Dead movies.

However, the film is able to redeem itself with protagonist Ash Williams. Developing a snarky side in-between this and Evil Dead II, Ash Williams spouts off one-liners and becomes a truly hilarious character. Even though the character feels more like the actor playing himself, it's forgivable because of how epic his character becomes. The slapstick may have bombed in this movie, but the film's still insanely quotable thanks to Ash.

Also, though it is kinda cheesy, the film's narrative is entertaining. It never drags beyond what's necessary and the film goes by just as fast as Evil Dead II did. Not only that, but Army of Darkness proves to be just as creative as its predecessors. The world still feels original and the visuals look pretty good, with the style harking back to the days of Jason & The Argonauts and the original Clash of The Titans.

In many ways, Army of Darkness is a weak ending to an otherwise pretty good trilogy. The humor's been incredibly dumbed down, the horror's lost its impact, and the film can seem downright cheesy at points. However, it's not bad by any means, thanks to a great protagonist, entertaining narrative, and fluent creativity. Overall, it's simply fair...

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