Evil Dead (2013) Review
When it comes to horror remakes, they are always delivered with the same sigh of disappointment, and the odd comment about “Hollywood running out of ideas”. I never saw the point in rebooting the classics, surely it makes more sense to reboot films that had potential but flopped, giving someone else a chance to improve something that could have been great, instead of soiling something that was great. However, it is safe to say that ‘Evil Dead’ doesn’t fall under the category of a Michael Bay produced horror, or a Rob Zombie remake, or just any poor horror remake you can think of. Instead of being threatened by the hatred towards reboots, it is actually threatened more by the release of ‘Cabin in The Woods’ last year. It is safe to say that ‘Evil Dead’ follows the clichéd rules of ‘Cabin’ pretty closely, but that isn’t enough to destroy a movie, because sometimes a cliché can be fun, and ‘Evil Dead’ was exactly that; fun.
After a bloody opening scene, we see that for once, the young, soon-to-be-dead, adults aren’t actually there to party, but instead, to help our main character, Mia (Jane Levy), recover from a drug addiction. The other four friends consist of David (Shiloh Fernandez), Mia’s Brother, his girlfriend Nathalie (Elizabeth Blackmore), Olivia (Jessica Lucas) and Eric (Lou Taylor Pucci). They move away from the stereotypical characters, such as; the slut, the virgin, the stoner and the jock, although Nathalie is assigned to the role of the dumb blonde. After discovering a strong stench coming from the basement, they decide to investigate, resulting in them finding dozens of dead animals hung from the ceiling of the cellar, along with a book bound in flesh. Even if you’re there to help a friend go cold turkey, after finding that, I’m sure most people would say something along the lines of “F*ck that, let’s go”, but this is not the case, ‘cause let’s be honest, that would make it a damn short movie. While Eric looks through ‘The Book of The Dead’, he ignores the clear warnings telling him not to read or write the words from the book, but obviously, being a horror movie and all, he decides to ignore the warnings and do it anyway, unleashing the Evil. The beauty of having the character of Mia going cold turkey is that it gives the characters all an excuse to stay; they’ve been through this before and know that she will do anything to leave, so when Mia does start to see things, they don’t believe her. The fact that Mia is going cold turkey and that there is a history of mental illness in her family leaves a nice sense of ambiguity in the film, offering us the possibility that it is all in Mia’s head, for a short while that is, until we remember this is an Evil Dead film, and they then throw any form of ambiguity out of the window.
As far as acting goes it’s all pretty standard; Shiloh Fernandez as David starts off pretty stale, but once the intensity rises so does his performance. Elizabeth Blackmore’s Nathalie is the down part of the whole cast, a character so dull, you forget she’s actually in the Cabin with them. You can’t help but feel that she’s just shoved in there, just so there is one more person to kill off. Perversely, it is not until her inevitable end arrives, that her character actually begins to come alive. Lou Taylor Pucci’s Eric manages to pull off the dialogue he’s given, not that the dialogue was bad, it was just heavily focused around the supernatural aspects of the film, him being the one who read from the book and all. What usually wouldn’t be taken seriously, he manages to pull off with a serious tone, and when not serious, it’s delivered with a small hint of sly humour. The performance that really stands out though is Jane Levy’s Mia. She pulls off three completely different characters, the drug addict going sober, the Deadite and the heroin. When she’s not making your skin crawl and your spine tingle, she’s making you fist pump the air with her badass attitude. There is an obvious inspiration from ‘The Exorcist’ within the Deadites, not only with looks but with characteristics as well. They also borrow the cracking of the neck, which is used in many recent possession/exorcism films, which heavily emphasises the grotesque nature of these Deadites, and just makes it much more chilling and horrific.
Director, Fede Alvarez, had one main rule while making this film, which was not to use CGI; instead he wanted the film to rely heavily on practical effects. In my honest opinion, horror films seem to go overboard with CGI these days, so it was refreshing to see that they were going back to basics, and the final result was that it looked disturbingly real. The whole film is one big blood bath and it’s amazing that they managed to stick to old school special effects for the majority of the film. The use of these practical effects was one of the more impressive aspects of the movie, leaving you cringing in your seats, covering your eyes or if you’re faint hearted, vomiting. As for the copious amounts of fake blood used in the film, Alvarez produces a finale that rivals Peter Jackson’s in “Braindead”, making the latter look like an episode of Casualty; now that’s saying something.
Overall, it may be missing the charm that the original had, but the special effects and intensity of scenes save it. ‘Evil Dead’ isn’t only a great movie, but it’s a great reboot. “The most terrifying film you will ever experience” it is not and it doesn’t help that the trailer gave away a little too much, but it is still possibly one of the goriest films you will experience this year. If you find yourself looking out for the odd nod and wink to the original, you will not be disappointed, but Fede Alvarez has made it his own, despite glimpses of Sam Raimi’s fingerprints throughout. Those looking for the infamous tree rape scene won’t find exactly that, however you will find something similar and equally nasty. It may also not be as extreme as some had hoped, but there is no denying that it’s still cringe worthy and one hell of a fun ride, with a final act so brutal and gory (involving possibly one of the best chainsaw executions ever) you can’t help but laugh and cheer. Also, be sure to stay during and after the credits, it will make fans of the original feel right at home. Stay Groovy Deadites.
Follow Bill on Twitter: @2FlashGordon7