Lou Taylor Pucci
2013's THE EVIL DEAD is effective as an exercise in gore and intensity and I suppose those are both key elements to a successful horror film, but it still left me feeling underwhelmed as a whole.
The remake of Sam Raimi's classic horror film is definitely better than fans were dreading when it was first announced and Fede Alvarez's modern update has no problem asserting itself as a completely different beast that's much more "hardcore" than the original. There are also a few clever touches at play, like Mia's detoxing and family history of mental insanity that make for fun temporary red herrings when things inevitably go down. But overall this movie is all about the gore—essentially 20 minutes of setup and an hour of possessed people doing horrific and nasty things to each other and themselves. For some, that might be enough, yet I was expecting more.
Without a doubt THE EVIL DEAD is gross, but it's not that scary. And aside from a purely visceral level, it just doesn't have the same impact as the original, nor its manic charm. The directing was very strong throughout, with Alvarez using a few more polished versions of Raimi's old tricks. The gore FX are fantastic as well, and probably worth watching the film if you're a fan of the red stuff. But having the blood and guts in your face for so long really lessens its effectiveness eventually. Things like watching a needle very graphically pulled out of an eye usually sends a shiver down my spine, but not here. Perhaps I'm desensitized after the last decade of increasingly brutal horror films; perhaps it's so over the top in this movie that it almost becomes comical.
The film also doesn't really bother with creating atmosphere or building tension with regards to its scares. The cast is strong, with Suburgatory's Jane Levy giving a standout performance as Mia, the girl possessed both by drugs and demons, but the rest of the characters are barely developed and when they die their loss doesn't really leave much of an impact. (It's hard to watch James Franco cut his own arm off in 127 HOURS because I care about him as a character. Here, not so much.) The humans are also plagued by the script's penchant for stupid decisions and unrealistic reactions. Not to mention, the whole "prophecy" aspect to the film is so half-baked I almost forgot it was set up at all.
And honestly, after Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard's CABIN IN THE WOODS sort of pulled the rug out of this genre, this kind of movie—no matter how brutal—just suffers by comparison.
Commentary with director Fede Alvarez, writer Rodo Sayagues and actors Jane Levy, Lou Taylor Pucci and Jessica Lucas: Between the cast and crew, this track covers pretty much everything from the technical challenges of the horror effects to some of the lighter times on set. It's a fun group and they make for a mostly entertaining listen if you're listening.
Directing the Dead (7:24): Alvarez talks about working on the film and the different challenges he faced remaking the original classic, while the cast discusses their experiences on the other end.
Evil Dead the Reboot (9:50): Cast and crew, from Bruce Campbell to Jane Levy, talk about the enduring legacy of Raimi's original film and how they went about remaking it.
Making Life Difficult (8:15): The actors talk about how tough the shoot was. My favorite: Jane Levy complaining about how hard the vomit scene was for her. Meanwhile, in the background you see some poor old guy on his hands and knees wiping up all the vomit while she sits in a chair drinking coffee.
Unleashing the Evil Force (5:06): Take a closer look the remake's version of the Book of the Dead.
Being Mia (9:15): Suburgatory star Jane Levy shares her video diary of her getting ready for the film, as well as interviews.
Perhaps it was due to all the hype from horror fans, but I was left a little disappointed by the new EVIL DEAD. It's not a bad movie, but there's not much more to it than the gore.
Extra Tidbit: A total of 70,000 gallons of fake blood were used in the film.