Mia, a young woman struggling with sobriety, heads to a remote cabin with her brother and a group of friends, where the discovery of a Book of the Dead leads to danger and horror
“Evil Dead” (2013), has probably been the most requested film from my staff to review this season. Most likely because the excitement for a really jarring remake has been long overdue. In fact, even with the remake-haters revving up to defend the 1981 classic by the same name (of which it is), we all were shocked to see the 2013 Evil Dead trailers and how powerful they “could” be. Quickly it became a matter of, is this as scary as it “feels” like it is? Or do we prefer our fan favorite Bruce Campbell and his wacky Sam Raimi directed segments? Heck, as far as I’m concerned “Evil Dead” “was” already remade in the sequel reboot back in 1987 when Ash reprised his role and Raimi retold the same story. But….. despite that, I loved them both and have re-watched each time and time again.
As a horror fan, the ones that really win us over are the attempts that don’t just rehash the old ideas but make a new statement with conviction, purpose, and intent. We can discuss countless times the studios have missed that objective and just went for the quick franchise buck. I won’t bother naming them as this article’s purpose is to review the new version of “Evil Dead” and was it worth the wait? Hell yes…..in spades, for that matter.
With new director behind the film Fede Alvarez, Fede knew that if he was going to take on a classic favorite, he’d better make it damn scary. “Evil Dead” in a big sense is a return to the kind of horror that we tend to see LESS (by comparison to the quantity of releases) of these days…….that gutteral-visceral-jarring concoction that really for all intensive purposes is to shock, scare, and smack you in the face with its high energy unveiling.
For purists, there is much from this remake that repeats “some” of the main items from the original and that’s a good thing. That ominous book (the Necronomicon, as we’ve come to know), that demon under the stairs, the chainsaw, the demonic invading trees and especially the nonstop push for its entity to possess everything and anything in its path. This round we are treated to a new opener, one that serves it purpose for giving us a small back story. At heart of this film it’s all about the unleashing of a nasty-ass demon and the demon’s unrelenting need to torture, mangle, kill, and subject all the subjects unlucky enough to recite that classic “Klaatu barata nicktum” to hell on earth. There are no prat-fall skits, no comedic subtlties, no dark comedy injections….just pure…dark!
The story has been modified to suit the characters in a way that is appreciated if not for the simple fact of avoiding a “party getaway in the woods” scenario. Jane Levy stars as Mia, a recovering addict who is joined by her distant brother and her long lost friends who spent time in the cabin in their youth. They have all agreed to stay, while Mia comes clean.
No….no, Ash this time around, most likely to keep the original Ash character out of the script and respect his contributions TO the original version. Shiloh Fernandez is David, Mia’s brother who is joined by Eric (Lou Taylor Pucci), Olivia (Jessica Lucas) and Natallie (Elizabeth Blackmore). The group has agreed to stick it out while Mia recovers and goes thru her withdrawals. This basis is simple enough that it is really all we need to get to the horror end of things.
Unfortunately upon discovering the basement cellar, Eric comes upon an old witch craft book bound in barbed wire (With ample warnings as to never read out loud…there’s your sign!). The book is littered with Satanic symbolism and scratching’s over illustrations that virtually story board the sequences “before” they happen. As you can guess, the wrong phrase is spoken which releases hell upon the cabin. Mia becomes the main host for the demon to emerge and influence a whole smattering of violence, chaos and horrifics that surely place this year’s “Evil Dead’ as a front runner for the horror genre.
Well, the film doesn’t disappoint unleashing some hardcore scenes against creepy-eyed possessions (What happened to her eyes!!!) that mirror the kind of look that would make Linda Blair proud. Fans may scratch their head over some portions that resolve into dramatic “warm” moments, but…… have no fear as it also sets the stage for some serious misdirection and reckoning. The contrast is a clever move that echo’s a similar approach used in the movie, “The Ring“.
It’s a shock and awe presentation for the new generation who don’t appreciate the old school visuals of 1981. It also follows suite with the “other” front runners of the past few years that staked their claim in the scary, creepy department of horror, one area that fans have been hungering for with anticipation. Needless to say, your in for a treat and some pretty bloody graphic moments.
While much of the film is free from spoilers (seeing that it takes its influence from the original), it does do other things a different way with much success. In fact it reminds you how much demon possession-rooted films can really freak you out if done properly. I can’t say the same about the recent “Last Exorcism 2” flop, but I can say “Evil Dead” is a must see, sinister to the bone, chilling, and jarring to behold.
Can you believe it….this is Fede Alvarez’s first feature directorial and he “nailed it” with the passion of a consummate horror fan. “Evil Dead” is a film that will spread quickly per word of mouth while many may even come back for seconds (including me!). From a genre perspective this is great news as the box office returns will certainly further cement a reason to keep the scares coming!
Oh ya, don’t forget to stay till after the credits ;)
Evil Dead (2013)