TV Review: Ash vs Evil Dead Season 1, Episode 5 “The Host” (USA, 2015)

There’s a a line in this weeks episode of Ash VS Evil Dead that not only reflects how Ruby views all of these deranged events on her hunt to find Ash but in a much more understated way, how a viewer should approach this new off the wall series. “I used to think everything should be orderly, logical. That it should make sense the way I thought it should make sense.”

Indeed, this weeks episode The Host, was not only a terrific return to form after last weeks aberrant switch in style but as if sensing the wrongs it was on the verge of making set out to rectify them.

The fallout from Brujo sees Ash tied up in  Pablo’s uncles barn with his exorcism and subsequent death imminent. Kelly (the one who is actually possessed), under the guise of needing some relaxation retreats to the trailer and  comes onto Pablo with the sole intention of blowing his brains out with a shotgun. Somehow, despite his very obvious affections for Kelly, Pablo still manages to divert this ruse long enough for for Egolis to show his true face.

The highlight of The Host is undoubtedly when Kelly seduces Pablo with an impromptu 420 session using a shotgun in lieu of a standard bong. Dana DeLorenzo absolutely crushes this scene. She oozes sex appeal and switches her tone ever so slightly to suggest something sinister is at play. And talk about tense. The only person out of the loop here is Pablo – his school boy crush negating his common sense so what unfolds is a suspensful scene that sees Kelly drop a live shell in the shotgun and waits for Pablo to light up. It not only further verifies how manipulative and dangerous these demons can be – which is looking to become a very effective trend in Ash vs Evil Dead – but it will certainly alleviate Pablos naivety as his sense of trust must now be heightened.

The latter half of the episode is best summed up as a good old exorcism romp. Kelly is tied to the same post that Ash was tied to, chickens are sacrificed and rituals are chanted. And Egolis gets up to some sick shit while he’s in Kellys body. Its what the series is known for and I’m all for the gross out moments that remind us of what we’re watching. After spitting some teeth out, Egolis literally climbs out of her mouth and impales Pablos uncle in the process. It is one of the more tender moments to date, despite all the blood splattered all over the barn. Pablo and his uncle have a sweet moment where all is forgiven and in classic Evil Dead style it morbidly eradicates a character in order to keep them moving along. Not exactly Oscar worthy but solid for a show about a guy with a chainsaw for a hand.

When Ash finally dispatches the demon it’s when you start to get a clearer picture of one of AvsED’s drawbacks. It’s special effects are very hit and miss. There are truly superb moments: Egolis for one looks fantastic and there was a scene last week where the evil lifted a car from the road and it was serviceable. But there have been some scenes (and it was something I thought might just be a stigma of its newbie status) involving CGI that have been somewhat questionable. As awesome as it was seeing Egolis’ arm reach out of Kelly’s mouth and take a swipe at Pablo, it clearly put in perspective where the shows shortcomings lie. Regardless, we are getting some unique and faithful scenes, and a glimpse into how AvsED would look on a bigger budget.

One thing that I’m enjoying about the series is how it still retains the evil perversion that existed in the movies. Kelly’s groans when she is tied to the post and shoving the barrel of the shotgun into Pablo’s mouth exclaiming “suck it bitch” are eerily reminiscent of Linda Blair’s turn in The Exorcist and separate the franchise from the mute psychopaths that usually cause carnage.

All in all, this was a great week to be an Ash VS Evil Dead fan. It did a hell of a lot right, especially for an episode that dealt with the very same location and events that marred last week. Bruce Campbell was back in form putting on one of the funniest moments of the season – cussing out Kelly while having a gag in his mouth – and in addition to that killer trailer scene, ended with a rare moment of compassion. Also, Ash got that new hand Pablo was working on and is super excited about it so, groovy.

Highlights:

      • Back to form
      • Trailer scene was amazing
      • Rare heartwarming moment
      • Opening scene with Ash was hilarious

Lowlights:

        • Somewhat dodgy CGI

Review Score: FOUR AND A HALF STARS (OUT OF FIVE)

Ash vs Evil Dead is streaming now on Stan.

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