Alan Dee’s movie preview: The Evil Dead, Bait, Promised Land

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The horror, the horror...

There are some blockbuster releases waiting in the wings but as far as new cinema fare on offer over the next few days goes, if it bleeds it leads.

First up is a slickly cynical remake of a notorious 80s shocker – one of a raft of low-budget bloodbaths that made their name in the golden age of video nasties that are now getting a makeover using the most graphic imagery available.

Movie types searching for a new way to make money without having to come up with anything that might be classed as creative? Surely not!

It’s The Evil Dead, of course, which instantly made Sal Raimi a player on its release more than 30 years ago. Sal’s back on board here as producer, but apart from the sharper pictures and the more graphic gore nothing much has changed.

Calling the shots is Hollywood newcomer Fede Alvarez, whose last film was a low-budget Uruguayan effort about giant robots attacking Montivideo.

So what happens? Well, here’s where some of the most familiar cliches of the genre started out – five young friends head to a remote cabin in the woods where they stumble upon a book which allows them to summon up a demonic force. It was an accident, honest, but soon the friends are besieged by supernatural evil.

Cue 91 minutes of screaming, spurting and silliness. Pointless piffle and every dollar you see on screen is a dollar wasted.

Even cheesier, and without the fig leaf of that Raimi pedigree, is Bait, a sort of Jaws meets Neighbours chompfest from down under.

A gigantic tsunami hits a small Australian beach community, human survivors are trapped in a submerged supermarket and a great white shark is circling, hoping to have them for lunch.

There are big names to be seen this week, but not many. Matt Damon takes the lead in Promised Land, a drama about a clash between big business and small-town values. Smooth talking Matt and work colleague Frances McDormand are dispatched to the deprived Pennsylvania farming community to seal drilling rights to local land so they can set up a fracking operation. They expect it to be a straightforward job – it turns out to be anything but. Hang on, isn’t this Local Hero with the names changed?

Schoolteacher Hal Holbrook makes sure that the locals don’t just grab the money and run and when green campaignerJohn Krasinski arrives in town things start to get complicated.

It’s clearly a labour or love for right-on Matt, who co-wrote the script with Krasinki, and he is reunited here with Gus Van Sant, who also directed his first big ‘write the script, take a star role’ hit Good Will Hunting. Wordy but worthy.