Title: Evil Dead
Director: Fede Alvarez
Release Year: 2013
The Evil Dead series has been a cultural staple in the horror genre for the last 30 years. If you’ve watched a horror movie within that time span than you will have felt its influence throughout the genre without skipping a beat. As the years went on after the conclusion of the original trilogy, fans went about asking when we would see another Evil Dead movie to satiate their thirst for blood and gore. Sam Raimi, Rob Tapert and Bruce Campbell (the original trilogy’s writer/director, producer and star) went about creating rumors about another film or maybe a remake as our hero Ash would be a little old to come back to the cabin to face the deadites. Then around this time a couple years ago, we were given word that a remake was in the works with YouTube sensation Fede Alvarez at the helm. Fans weren’t particularly thrilled by the sound of a remake until word got out that Campbell, Tapert and Raimi were on board to produce and heavily involved in the filmmaking. It’s now been a couple years and I can gladly say that most hardcore fans will not be disappointed.
It is based around the same story you’ve all seen before, just tweaked a little. Mia (Jane Levy) is taken by her friends, Eric (Lou Taylor Pucci) and Olivia (Jessica Lucas) to the secluded cabin in the woods to kick her drug habit while she is joined by her estranged brother, David (Shiloh Fernandez) and his new girlfriend, Natalie (Elizabeth Blackmore) are there to support her. Mia’s addiction begins to take hold as she begins to withdraw and escapes into the woods to run away from her friends who want to keep her there until she has kicked her habit for good. Unfortunately, Mia comes back with a little more than just her addiction to deal with. From here on, we’re shown to a series of mutilations, burnings and I’m sure if you came up with something else, it would be in this movie.
While general audience will walk in thinking there will be a nice mix of jump scares and gore, they’re in for a dirty surprise. One of the things about the film that has kept fans at ease is the use of practical effects over the commonly used CGI; this allows a graphic realism and almost war-like effect on the injuries inflicted upon our characters. While the film seemed to say in the trailers that fans were in for a serious horror film, they don’t exactly get the same sense of humor either. This is quite a humorous movie but not in the way that we’re used to. It takes the idea of making fun of the modern horror film in a way that isn’t the same as the original, it’s a little more subtle…just a little though. Every time we see a deadite, we’re treated to the noise of various animals; dogs, monkeys, rattlesnakes, you name it and it’s probably there. Gory scenes are insanely realistic and feel like the movie made us come to see how long we could look as if this was an endurance test and I really couldn’t argue that it isn’t. Alvarez submits darkness and flashes of comedy seamlessly without making the jokes completely noticeable. Even more impressive is the work of cinematographer Aaron Morton, whose composition and framing is gorgeous but also gives us a little too much clarity. Some of that grime and dirt is missing when everything feels so clear and clean. Give us some dirt with our blood.
Now just to warn you all ahead of time, this isn’t a movie that you go to for heavy acting skills. Cast with a bunch of twenty-something actors with little to no talent (and it usually shows), I’m surprised to say that there was actually one performance that stands out above them all. Jane Levy, star of the ABC comedy “Suburgatory,” she really holds her own as the lead villain of the film and it truly shows. From cruel drug addict to even more cruel monster, Levy emits horror and humor with buckets of blood and laughs to spare. She completely loses herself in the role and for a movie about an evil force in the woods, it’s commendable that we see such talent. Also interesting but with less to work with is Lou Taylor Pucci who starred in Mike Mills excellent debut, “Thumbsucker.” His role doesn’t require much but he looks like he’s just having a good ol’ time playing around with the concept. The others; Elizabeth Blackmore, “Cloverfield”‘s Jessica Lucas and Shiloh Fernandez, are either just decent or don’t have much screen time to do anything substantial.
Entertaining and full of little “in” jokes for fans, this is a film that was made for an audience but based on the crowds that I have seen it with, it’s not exactly going to be appreciated immediately. This is a movie that will have Evil Dead fans coming in droves and should be considered mandatory viewing among any horror film lover. Yes, this will probably disappoint Evil Dead fans and it’s hard not to with the weight of the old films on it’s shoulders but I have a feeling this will last the test of time. Within a few years, this will be playing at midnight in a small theatre somewhere or a group of teens will watch it and think the same thing we all thought when we saw the original, “Holy Shit.” Ladies and Gentlemen, we have a cult film on our hands.