Evil Dead (2013)
Directed by Fede Alvarez
Starring Jane Levy, Shiloh Fernandez, Jessica Lucas, Lou Taylor Pucci
You know that old saying, ‘There are two types of people in this world, son…’? Well among genre fans there are: Those that know Evil Dead, and those that don’t. Casual horror fans may have heard of the original film, but as it came out in 1981, not many have seen it. Diehard horror fans have held parties in its honor. The film is adored not only for how fresh and unrelenting it was for its time, spearheaded by Spider-Man director Sam Raimi’s frenetic camera shots, but also for introducing horror & B-movie icon Bruce Campbell as the lead character Ash. Well, for those of you in the ‘DON’T’ category, you now know that this film is a remake of the gruesome original, with Raimi & Campbell serving as producers of the film.
Evil Dead 2013 couldn’t be any more simplistic: Mia is a heroin addict, drug out to a cabin in the middle of the woods and forced to quit cold turkey by her brother David and appropriately blandly named friends Eric, Olivia & Natalie. Of course one of our idiot 5 have to venture down to the fruit cellar where the Book of the Dead is found. Look, we all know this has to happen but if you EVER end up with a book made of skin, wrapped in barb wire and with ‘DON’T TOUCH THIS!’ listed on every other page, you should probably not open it. It sounds a little foreboding. Regardless, they do as well as accidentally read the incantation summoning the ‘Evil Dead’ from the woods. The evil begins taking possession of our 5 as they try to fight, claw and mutilate their way to sunrise.
I will be the first to tell you that the story of Evil Dead is as thin as the barb wire holding that book together. The basic concept of Mia’s addiction is nothing more than a service to get them all to that cabin where the real evil begins. I liked that they used this device as opposed to yet another wild kid’s wanting to drink, party and take a trip…to the most foreboding cabin ever shown on film. It works much better this way.
This is a horror film, plain and simple. Alvarez makes clear that he is going for the feel of the original film – intense, gory, kinetic – and he nails it. The film has some of the more intense horror scenes I have seen in a film in a very long time (and yes original film fans, the dirty vines do make their return here), and once the terror begins it continues until the conclusion. Alvarez manages to shoot the gore in the style of the original, where the violence might be extreme but never carries the nauseating sadisticness of the Saw or Hostel films. This is bloody, gory and definitely evil, but at its core – this is fun horror.
As far as the cast goes, they have managed a far better group of actors than the original’s low budget beginnings, minus the mighty chin of Bruce Campbell of course. Jane Levy manages to carry her Mia through several ups and downs and handles it with an evil joy. Addict, possessed demon, sweet sister – it’s all here and quite impressive. Also impressive was Jessica Lucas as Olivia, the friend and nurse who arranges the ‘we keep her here’ endeavor of the film. For me, hers was the character I easily cared the most about. The rest of the cast might as well have been labeled Brother, Funny Friend and Brother’s Girl because that’s really what their roles are. Everyone held up their end though, and even as the film amped up for its ridiculous but enthralling conclusion, all I could do was smile at the joy of it all.
I, myself, am a huge fan of the original film. As this remake gained progress forward I have been both excited and terrified. I have read several reviews that claim this film lacks the ‘humor’ of the first film, which as a fan infuriates me because there simply WASN’T any in the original. The goofiness came in the later 2 films. This remake manages to accomplish something no other horror remake I can think of has – it pays just enough homage to the original’s intense horror and mild cheesiness to service the fans, as well as creates enough of its own identity to become its own beast. This may not be ‘my’ Evil Dead, but it’s the closest I’ve seen in 3 decades and one I can’t wait to enjoy for another round.
If $10 is the full price of admission, Evil Dead is worth $9.
The Hollywood Outsider Podcast
Listen here to everyone’s thoughts on Evil Dead, taken from Episode 88 of The HO!