Director: Fede Alvarez Running Time: 91 mins. Release date: 5.5.2013 Genre: Horror Stars: Jane Levy, Shiloh Fernandez, Lou Taylor Pucci
As I walked into the theatre and saw the poster for the movie I was about to see I was already getting ready to be disappointed. The tagline for the Evil Dead remake read: “The most terrifying film you will ever experience.” Needless to say, this is not the most terrifying film I have ever experienced. What Evil Dead is, is a remake that is very much in line with what we’ve come to expect from horror movie remakes these days… It ups the “realism” and intensity of the violence and gore, but fails to fully capture the essence of what made the original great to begin with. Having said that, this new Evil Dead has some good moments, and manages to stand on its own as a horror flick in 2013.
Like the original, we have five friends that are travelling to a remote cabin in the woods where they soon find themselves in grave peril. The group is there to help young Mia kick her drug habit for good by having her go cold turkey out in the cabin owned by her family. Things soon start going bad as they discover that someone has broken into the cabin and used its basement for some twisted ritual (shown in the prologue). In said basement they discover the Necronomicon; the book of the dead. Despite this they all agree to stay because they want to make sure that Mia really does give up the drugs this time, and once the token book-worm character recites a passage from the Necronomicon – Evil and Death ensues.
This setup is one of the things that this remake does quite well. The fact that Mia is suffering from drug withdrawal helps sell that the group doesn’t get out of there as soon as possible once she becomes possessed, and things start getting weird. They think she’s just doing anything to get out of there. Soon enough things get very disturbing and the evil starts claiming their souls. It was nice to see how faithful the remake is to the original while still putting a fresh spin on things, but therein lays the biggest problem with this movie; it doesn’t quite pull off both paying homage to the original Evil Deads and at the same time feel like something new.
The most glaring problem with Evil Dead is its serious tone. It is almost entirely void of any humor what so ever, except for a few scenes that were unintentionally funny. What made the original series so great was how goofy and camp they were, while still being genuinely shocking (for their time at least) and full of over-the-top violence and gore. This remake is trying too hard to actually be scary and shocking, and while there are plenty of gruesome scenes (and impressive effects) that gore-hounds will definitively appreciate, the movie falls short of being scary. For a seasoned horror-buff that has long since become desensitized to graphic violence in movies, the shock factor of Evil Dead falls flat.
The second big problem of this remake is the characters, and the cast. While horror movies aren’t exactly famous for having deep and well-explored characters, they still need to be somewhat relatable and sympathetic. Let’s just say that I felt more for the family dog in this movie than any of the human characters. Again, this might not be unusual for your typical modern horror movie, but when you are remaking Evil Dead - it kind of matters. Bruce Campbell’s Ash is an icon in the genre, an impressive feat as typically the bad guys steal the show (Leatherface, Michael Myers, Jason, Freddy Krueger, Pinhead, Norman Bates etc.) I didn’t expect this movie to even come close to birthing an Ash for the 21st century, but the greatness of that character make the stereotypical ones in the remake seem that much bleaker. That’s not to say that the performances are terrible, there are actually some good bits in there, it’s rather the script that is to blame in this regard. An Evil Dead movie without Ash just doesn’t feel right.
Now it may sound like there’s not much to like about the film, but I did enjoy it on some levels. I appreciated many of the nods to the original films, like the camera zooming through the woods, the set-design, some of the recreated scenes, and various other little tributes. The gore effects are well done and the blood is plentiful. Some scenes will most definitively make more sensitive audiences feel squeamish. Over all the film is well directed and shot, with some scenes that are really cool to look at.
Again, Evil Dead’s biggest obstacle is the fact that it is an Evil Dead film. It will leave Evil Dead fans wanting, and it doesn’t quite do enough to stand out from the crowd of demonic possession/exorcism/undead movies before it. Hopefully it will get a new generation of horror fans turned on to the original trilogy, and it is a decent watch for splatter/gore fans. In the end it feels a bit like a missed opportunity to revitalize one of horror’s greats, as Evil Dead sadly falls into generic horror territory. It was nice to see Evil Dead return to the big screen, but here’s hoping we get Sam Raimi back in the director’s chair and Bruce Campbell back to once again take on the deadites in Army of Darkness II somewhere down the line.
We liked Gore Effects, and Well Shot Tribute to the Original.
We disliked Uninteresting Characters, Too Generic, and Weak Script.