Sunday, 15 November 2015

ASH vs. EVIL DEAD, 1.3 – 'Books from Beyond'

Sunday, 15 November 2015


Three weeks into Ash vs. Evil Dead and there's definitely a pattern emerging: Ash (Bruce Campbell), Pablo (Ray Santiago) and Kelly (Dana Delorenzo) travel to various places in an attempt to undo the Necronomicon's spell, and each half-hour crescendos with a big set-piece in that location involving the slaying of a monster.

Anyway, "Books from Beyond" a bit of a comedown after the first two episodes. Ash, Pablo and Kelly arrived at the bookshop run by a guy called Lionel (Kelson Henderson) who can translate the Necronomicon. We learned that the book was written by a cult known as The Dark Ones, to be used as a gateway to Hell, too. Detective Fisher (Jill Marie Jones) had also found her way to the bookshop, which means most of the cast are finally together—although I liked how Fisher's ostensibly an ally, but still thinks arresting Ash is the best way to stop whatever's happening. Ruby Knowby (Lucy Lawless) is still the show's most inscrutable character because her role isn't wholly clear, but she has the same surname as the professor who originally discovered the Necronomicon prior to The Evil Dead—so a granddaughter out to reverse the damage, and get the book away from dimwit Ash is probably a very good guess. She appears to be quite the bad-ass, too, perhaps even more-so than Ash—as she impaled a surviving Deadite on a wooden crucifix and tortured him for info.

I liked how Ash is beginning to see the value in having two comrades, despite pretending to prefer his lone wolf status, and the events at the bookstore confirm that he needs their help if he's to contain the evil he's unleashed on the world. Unfortunately, so much about this episode felt like a missed opportunity—from the fizzled hype of Ash crossing paths with Fisher, to the subpar action involving the summoned demon that escapes from its bonds. The Ellagos creature was a good effect (it appeared in the trailer and looked very stupid, but they appear to have added a lot of post-production F/X to hide its rubberiness), but the action surrounding it wasn't exciting and the humour didn't really connect. It's going to be hard for AvED to deliver the kind of crazy and kinetic vibe the movies had, but "Books from Beyond" was barely more than a generic Buffy the Vampire Slayer with a bit of extra blood.

It just didn't feel like an Evil Dead TV series this week; more like one of those cheap Syfy knock-offs you'd expect Bruce Campbell to participate in for easy money. Let's hope it was an early stumble, and not a sign AvED should perhaps have just been a straight-to-television feature-length sequel.

written by Sean Clements • directed by Michael J. Bassett • 14 November 2015 • Starz