Review: Evil Dead
PLOT: A group of friends spending the weekend at a remote cabin unwittingly awaken a demonic spirit, when one of them reads from the Necronomicon- aka, the book of the dead. The demonic force begins taking over their bodies- one by one- and the remaining friends find themselves fighting not only for their lives, but for their very souls!
REVIEW: Initially, I was dead-set against a remake of THE EVIL DEAD. I love Sam Raimi's original trilogy, and the idea of some kid stepping into Bruce Campbell's shoes in a watered-down modern day version gave me unpleasant memories of the NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET and HITCHER “reboots”. Luckily, everyone involved with this edition seems to have understood exactly what fans want and- more importantly- do not want to see, and this new EVIL DEAD is a really tight, exciting new addition to the franchise.
What director Fede Alvarez has done here is craft a movie that can work as either an EVIL DEAD sequel, or a stand-alone movie. Whichever way you want to look at it, it works. There's no Ash, and nobody tries to imitate Campbell, and the vast majority of the scares are fresh, and avoid apeing too many of the original trilogy's iconic bits. Instead, it provides it's own terror, with a couple of (subtle) nods to the original.
It helps that Alvarez, who co-wrote the script with Rodo Sayagues and Diablo Cody, takes a startlingly different approach to the material than Sam Raimi did. While Raimi's film had madcap energy, and oodles of fun- the very things that make us love this series so much- Alvarez makes this EVIL DEAD ultra serious and somber. He could have easily copied Raimi, but by doing something different he makes the movie his own.
The two central characters in this version are estranged siblings Mia (Jane Levy) and David (Shiloh Fernandez), who- along with their friends- have come to the cabin so that Mia can kick her nasty drug habit. Levy is especially good as the troubled Mia, who's been plagued by demons of the metaphorical kind long before she ever went into the woods. She's got real star quality, and the part feels tailor-made for her. Shiloh Fernandez, who recently impressed me with a nice turn in the Sundance sleeper THE EAST, is also very good as her brother, who tries to keep a cool head and stay rational, even when he's watching his friends cut their faces off (while never slipping into parody).
While the acting is good, and Alvarez is even able to weave in a bit of subtext about drugs and family guilt, don't for one second think this EVIL DEAD is about characters sitting around talking about their feelings. Ohhhhhh noooooo. Alvarez uses gallons and gallons of gore and ooze, with the carnage really pushing the boundaries of the R-rating in a way that must have made Sam Raimi (who produced, along with Campbell) smile. I don't want to spoil any of the gross-out scenes, but trust me when I say there's enough here to shock even the most desensitized horror fans. This is balls-out horror, real dark and nasty, and Alvarez proves himself incredibly adept at staging gross-out set-pieces. Even better, they're all done with practical effects and makeup, meaning no wimpy cgi-gore. Meanwhile, everything is complemented by Roque Banos' frantic score, which even manages to work in a wailing siren to great effect.
Obviously, the Sam Raimi EVIL DEAD movies are classics for a reason, and Alvarez never tries to go toe-to-toe with them. He doesn't need to. On it's own terms, Fede Alvarez's movie is pretty damn good. It manages to both complement the original films, while also working as a wholly original experience to a new audience of horror fans. It's the best of both worlds, and way better than we ever hoped an EVIL DEAD movie that's not directed by Raimi ever would be. This one is a must see for hardcore horror fans. Not for the faint of heart.
|Extra Tidbit:||Of course, I still really want to see EVIL DEAD IV or ARMY OF DARKNESS 2. Groovy!|