Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Film Review | Evil Dead 3: Army Of Darkness (1992)

Following on almost exactly from where the closing moments of Evil Dead II left us, Sam Raimi's final film in his horror trilogy allowed the director to realise the vision he originally had for his first sequel but had been unable to bring about largely due to budget limitations. Evil Dead 3: Army Of Darkness is more commonly known simply as Army Of Darkness, arguably with good reason: in many ways this feels less like a continuation from the first two Evil Dead films and more like a fantasy vehicle for Bruce Campbell's Ash, a cult cinematic icon by this point in the franchise, to once again rev his chainsaw and fire his boomstick with aplomb.

Raimi shows he is unafraid to try out new ideas throughout Army Of Darkness, which is consistently admirable if not always successful. Tonally this sees an even greater shift into comedy than was seen between The Evil Dead and Evil Dead II. Raimi's choice to transport the action to medieval England is a bold one considering the minimal cabin-in-the-woods setting of the first two entries in the trilogy. Coupled with the distinctly comedic tone throughout, Army Of Darkness at times feels reminiscent of Monty Python's big screen outings, which is never to the film's detriment but may disappoint fans of the out-and-out horror seen earlier in the franchise.

Both Campbell and Raimi clearly enjoy themselves bringing Ash to a wealth of new environments and characters, some of which work better than others. Ironically, the films strongest moments are those most redolent of the style and structure of Evil Dead II. A sequence which sees Ash isolated in an abandoned windmill is the strongest of the film, once again allowing Campbell to demonstrate his impressive aptitude for slapstick and visual humour. Raimi broadens his influence to include the likes of classic Tex Avery animation, as well as including his most overt homage to the work of Ray Harryhausen with the titular army largely made up of reanimated skeletons strongly evocative of Jason And The Argonauts.

Army Of Darkness' ambition also provides many of its shortcomings however. Other than Ash, the characters here receive the bare minimum of development needed to keep the story going, with most remaining largely one-dimensional. Whilst the first two films in the franchise could be criticised for not really having a story, Army Of Darkness certainly does its best to fix that, although Ash's quest through medieval England is unashamedly episodic and feels more like an excuse to link together a series of set pieces. The final battle between the living and "deadite" armies in all honesty feels overlong and a bit underwhelming.

Army Of Darkness ultimately never quite manages to reach the heights of the trilogy's strongest entry, Evil Dead II, feeling tamer in tone and more concerned with laughs than scares. But Raimi still manages to craft an imaginative, worthwhile and seriously enjoyable ending to his trilogy by playing to enough of his strengths, whilst having the courage to take the franchise into previously unexplored territory.


No comments:

Post a Comment