“Evil Dead” 2013 Review

April 5, 2013

Synopsis: In the remake to the cult classic, five friends head to a remote cabin, where the discovery of a “Book of the Dead” leads them to unwittingly summon up demons living in the nearby woods. The evil presence possesses them in succession until only one is left to fight for survival.

Release date: April 5th, 2013

Director: Fede Alvarez

Writer: Diablo Cody, Fede Alvarez, Rodo Sayagues

Starring: Jane Levy, Shiloh Fernandez, Lou Taylor Pucci, Elizabeth Blackmore, and Jessica Lucas

Studio: TriStar

Website: evildead-movie.com

The Evil Dead movie poster (2013) poster MOV_b6777848

Review: So the remake to EVIL DEAD has finally arrived and I just got back from a early screening of it.  The original trilogy is a series of films that I cherish very much, so I was very hesitant about the idea of a remake.  When the trailers started popping up, I started to get excited because it actually looked promising.  Well, the movie held up to what it promised.

A side note about the trailers and TV spots, there’s a couple shots in the those that aren’t in the final movie. There’s a shot of David that looks like he’s chopping his arm, or something, off with a chainsaw as blood rains over his face very similar to a shot of Ash hacking his hand off.  I recall David looking at the chainsaw, but not using it.  Also the “Time to go to sleep, not another peep” song is not in the movie that’s shown in the trailers.  Kind of disappointing because it’s from the original and featured in the trailers so much.  But these kind of things happen in trailers all the time and, overall, it doesn’t hurt the movie.  So let’s begin.

First off, don’t think of this as a remake to the first EVIL DEAD because in a lot of ways it isn’t… and it was reported that it isn’t a remake, but a sequel kinda? I don’t know, it started to get confusing.  The important part is to view this film as another installment in the EVIL DEAD universe.  There were demon possessions before Ash and you could consider this one that he just wasn’t involved in.  Think of it as it’s own stand alone film.

As a separate story in the EVIL DEAD universe it works quite well.  Most of the film has a more serious tone than the other films, but that doesn’t mean that there’s no over the top moments.  The last few minutes of this film is over the top, gory awesomeness!

The beginning of the film is completely different.  We watch as a girl desperately runs from some scary dudes in the woods.  They tackle her, place a bag on her head, and take her back to the cabin.  She’s tied up to one of the basement posts and it looks like she’s going to be murdered.  But we learn she has to be.  She’s possessed by the evil spirits, killed her own mother, and death is the only answer.  Her father doesn’t want to, but has to set her on fire to purify her.  We learn there are three ways in this movie to get rid of the evil spirits.  You have to either bury them alive, set them on fire, or bodily dismemberment.  That pretty much sets the tone for the film, you’re fucked.

The acting in this opening scene, to me, wasn’t the best.  It was the Father’s performance and the girl’s performance once she’s possessed.  Possession is a hard thing to do because it’s always teetering on the edge of absurdity.  The CGI fire also didn’t help.  But one of the main highlights of this film is that there is very little CGI.  One of the reasons this film works so well is because of all the practical effects.  They’re beautiful and took me back to a time when every stupid little thing wasn’t digital.  Horror films need real blood and the effects in this movie are brilliant.  It was fun seeing this with an audience and getting grossed out and cringing with them.  It’s been a while since I’ve seen an audience react to gore in a movie like that and it’s because it’s all real baby.

We’re then introduced to our group of five kids.  You’d think that Shiloh Fernandez who plays David would be the lead character since he wears a blue shirt like Ash and is the brother, but no.  We spend a lot of time with him, but it’s his sister Mia, played by Jane Levy, who ends up becoming the real main character.  It’s odd because she’s the one who is possessed the entire movie, yet redeems herself at the end.  The next character of note is Eric played by Lou Taylor Pucci.  He’s the one who reads from the book, so it’s pretty much his fault the evil is released, yet there’s something about him that’s likable.  Because he read from the book, he tries to piece together how they can send it back.  He can also take one hell of a beating.  In fact everyone in the cast can take a beating.  This movie is very violent.  It reminded me of the tag line on the poster for the original TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE movie, “Who will survive and what will be left of them”.  Then there’s two female characters that don’t do much, get possessed and then killed in grizzly, inventive ways.

The question of whether this movie was going to be good or not was answered about twenty minutes in after Mia gets possessed.  The Olivia character, played by Jessica Lucas, disappears into the bathroom and Eric goes to find her.  This scene in the bathroom is horrific, violent, and brilliantly sets the tone for the rest of the movie.  This scene sold me that this movie was in good hands.  Hold on to your seat because the movie hits the gas pedal and doesn’t let up the rest of the movie.

The cinematography is well done, the effects are amazing, there’s some decent suspense, and a couple good scares.  The movie wasn’t scary enough to give you nightmares or anything, but I kept thinking to myself, “Shit, I’d hate to be in this situation.  This is intense!”.  I don’t care if the water flooded the damn bridge.  I’d swim across and run for my life, flailing arms and all.

The possessed make up is a lot different than the original.  It’s mainly the eye contacts that are used.  In the original movies, when you were possessed, your eyes are completely white.  In the “remake” the eyes become a yellowish color.  The possessions look more like Linda Blair in THE EXORCIST than what they did in EVIL DEAD. That’s not really a bad thing, it’s just different.

There’s some good homages to the original EVIL DEAD like the shotgun, chainsaw, the clock on the wall, and book of the dead being obvious ones.  I know one of the girls, I believe Mia, was wearing a Michigan state sweater, which is a nod to the original. The shot of Natalie rinsing off her possessed hand in the sink is a shot taken directly from EVIL DEAD II.  Hell, even her lopping her arm off is very evil deadish.  The burying scene towards the end is very reminiscent of Ash burying his girlfriend except this time it’s David burying his sister Mia.  Also the updated “tree raping” scene got a little more disturbing with that black ooze thing.  The only odd homage was when the kids first arrive to the cabin.  There’s a soundbite of a deadite saying “Join us” from the original movie that’s used as they pull up and it’s just out of place.

The only other thing that’s out of place is when Mia is “resurrected” towards the end.  When she was possessed she boiled her skin in the shower, cut her tongue in half like a snake, and received various other wounds.  Once she’s buried and brought back, she’s back to normal and completely fine.  Now in other EVIL DEAD movies, possessed characters will turn back to their normal selves to trick the other characters, but soon turn back into their ghoulish selves.  It didn’t make sense that Mia would mutilate herself and then be completely fixed.  Let’s just say that she doesn’t remain 100 percent for long.

Overall, I can’t find a whole lot that is wrong with this movie, just little things that are easy to overlook.  It’s very positive and I’ll probably end up seeing it again while it’s in theaters and I’ll definitely be buying it and putting it on the shelf with my other various editions of EVIL DEAD DVDs.  One gross thing builds on top of another and it makes for a fun, yet intense ride.

For a “sort of” remake, it’s damn good and one of the better horror movies I’ve seen in a while.  I could rant a bit longer, but the main message is go see it for yourself.  It may not have Ash in it, but it’s nice having a solid EVIL DEAD movie again.

And stick around after the credits.  It’s not much, but hey it’s cool.

EVIL DEAD – 9 out of 10 stitches

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