BEWARE: Beyond the confines of this warning lie some MILD spoilers!
Emerging out of trepid foundations and beyond negative fan reaction comes 2013’s Fede Alvarez helmed Evil Dead. With overwatch from the original film’s trio of producers (Bruce Campbell, Robert Tapert, and Sam Raimi), the 2013 reboot of the franchise delivers a fun, gore-soaked reinterpretation of the series for a new breed of torture-porn dazed, at your fingertip snuff video desensitized deadites that not only serves to replicate but to expand the mythos of the cult classic.
The film follows a group of five young adults out on a weekend excursion to rid one of its members, Mia(Jane Levy), from the clutches of substance abuse by returning to Mia’s family cabin, which has coincidentally recently undergone a satanic “purification” of its own. Upon arrival, the group happen upon the Book of the Dead, now renamed Naturom Demonto, and all hell breaks loose when one of the members gets curious, mindlessly unleashing the demonic deadite forces to take their toll on each of the individual members. The film does well at this point to give its own reasons for the narrative and to differentiate itself from its exalted predecessor as not to commit the cardinal sin of having attempted to trump its forefathers. Beyond these and a select few other modifications complete with the placating, seemingly new-age demanded sappy relationship beginnings, this is still Evil Dead. There’s still a cabin. There’s still a ridiculous amount of gore(and then some). The same treacherous steps of Evil Dead II’s basement are still there. The above points, Sam Raimi’s classic demonic cam and the close-up shots of battle preparations all return to provide one of the most satisfying equal-opportunity bloodbaths for mankind and man I have seen in a long while.
Note: Despite the fact that I laughed throughout the whole movie(out of giddy excitement and the film’s modernized gallows humor gore-ified slapstick brutality), the film presents an actual brooding atmosphere, omnipresent along with the non-dependent jump scares and gore in the thousands-of-gallons load. I picture it must have been pretty grueling for people that haven’t been inducted into the gore of horror films or those that dove in expecting a laugh-fest akin to Army of Darkness.
Cinematography-wise, the film is executed perfectly. Aided by the adhesion of the special effects crew to practical effects and expansive set design, the film returns to provide new age renditions of many of the signature shots from the original films with some dread-inducing originals(including a sickening bathroom gag), all burnished with a dirty, grimy look that serves to off-set the seemingly Ikea-ized gloss of some of the more recent horror remakes and PG-13 onslaughts. The orchestrated soundtrack melds seamlessly with the picture and never seems to dichotomize or alienate the audience via any out-of-place hard rock or metal hits. Which is not to say that the film does not have its own share of metallic elements. The phrases “Hammer Smashed Face”, “Raining Blood”, “Purification By Fire” and “Shatter Their Bones” all appear as text or as actual events throughout the film at some point or another.
There’s probably a lot more Cannibal Corpse-isms in the movie.
Acting-wise, well…this is a horror film. Beyond the decent but stock “human” performances of Jessica Lucas (who plays the medical doctor friend, Olivia), Elizabeth Blackmore( who plays the out of place girlfriend, Natalie) and Shiloh Fernandez (who plays Mia’s older brother, David), the rest of the cast is pretty spectacular for a horror film. Jane Levy, who incorporates and plays both victim and victimizer in true no-one-is-safe Evil Dead fashion is able to pull off every emotion quite well and Lou Taylor Pucci’s literal tank of a character, Eric, is quite flexible and interesting in his role, given his earlier established rocky foundations with Fernandez’s character.
If I played RPGs, I’d pick this dude. Hands down.
Despite the fact that I came out of the theatres with the biggest grin on my face(given both the excellent picture and its “groovy” post-credits sequence), there were a few lackluster moments. The film definitely felt slow in its beginnings and near its ending with most of the meat of the film coalescing around the middle. The main baddie, the “Abomination”, hyped out throughout the film to be some behemoth-ian slayer ends up being pretty average and in no comparison to the massive WTF-worthy tree demon from Evil Dead II. Perhaps most damning of all is the film’s rendition of deadite design which mostly fails to create a real sense of dread in comparison to the former films’ cheaper yet infinitely more disturbing make-up. Preserving the form of the former human actor, little seems done except for some rotted flesh, yellow-tinged eyes and gritted teeth. Nevertheless, Alvarez’s Evil Dead is THE best horror remake in my aggregated opinion. Incorporating and building upon an established framework and lovable knowledge of all of the franchise as well as preserving its operational ethos, Evil Dead cements itself as a force of its own and I can’t wait to see what the future of BOTH Evil Dead bloodlines hold for each other.
TL;DR Jane Levy is pretty and they didn’t fuck up Evil Dead. Go watch this movie.
MAJOR SPOILERS ABOUND AFTER THIS POINT
-I definitely think that’s Dan Hicks in a cameo in the opening sequence
-The same bouncy and treacherous step from Evil Dead II is still there
-They used the “It’s A Trick, Get An Axe” gag
-The necklace is practically the same one from Evil Dead II
-The Oldsmobile is still there
-The basement flood was highly reminiscent of Army of Darkness’s pit scene especially given the fog above water and Mia’s fast teleport.
-The shotgun has already been sawed off in Alvarez’s film. The original Evil Dead trilogy initially portrayed the shotgun as a long barrel. Ash saws it off in Evil Dead II.
-“Baby Little Baby” replaces “Hush Little Baby” from Evil Dead II.
-To expand on the mythos, the book doesn’t burn in this film, in direct contrast and reference to The Evil Dead.
-I’m pretty sure Jane Levy had a Michigan State crewneck on, in reference to The Evil Dead.
-There’s no Freddy Krueger claw in the shed.
-If you watched Evil Dead II, you know that Eric misinterpreted the Book of The Dead. Doing the first two steps on Linda didn’t work. Purification By Fire is the final step. The film expands the mythos also in this manner.