Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Review 184: "Evil Dead (2013)"


Remaking Horror

      I have said this before, but I probably should say this again. I am a huge fan of Sam Raimi's Evil Dead series. Evil Dead II: Dead By Dawn is my all-time favorite horror film and one of my all-time favorite films period. So when word came that a remake was coming, especially one that could eventually tie into the original series. I missed the movie when it first came out in theaters, so now that's it's out on DVD, it's time to find out if it deserves a place with the rest of the series. Directed and written by Fede Alvarez (Panic Attack!) and co-written by Rodo Sayagues, the film follows a group of friends as they head up to an abandonded cabin. The reason for this is Mia (Jane Levy), who has been addicted to drugs and who her brother David (Shiloh Fernandez) and friends Eric (Lou Taylor Pucci), Olivia (Jessica Lucas) and Natalie (Elizabeth Blackmore) have taken up to this cabin in order to make her quit her habit cold turkey. However, when they discover a demonic ritual took place in the cabin and accidentally use The Book of the Dead in order to summon Deadites, they find these trapped in the woods as the Deadites slowly begin to turn all of them in self-mutilating killing monsters. Well, at least they got that part right.

Relax, it's not that bad.
Show Some Respect

      So, as a huge fan of the original series, I have to say the remake, as it turns out, is... not bad. Not bad at all. In fact, you can even say that it's pretty good. The thing to know going into this film is that it's less a direct remake but more a spiritual successor, capturing very well the spirit of the first original film while at the same time adding new additions that work out pretty well. After all, we have to remember that the first Evil Dead more is actually a pretty straight-forward horror film that's mainly remembered thanks to how good the sequels are. So this film playing the horror straight works and while it's not the most "terrifying film I will ever experience", it certainly excels at the type of "I dare you to watch" gore that that Raimi toyed with in the originals. The film is fairly inventive with it's means of creating gore, specifically in some standout scenes involving a woman's infected bite and a car being tipped over. It's not quite scary, but it is respectable and better than other horror films out now.

Deadly Personalities

      As for the technical side of the film, things are in a pretty good order there. Director Alvarez does great, especially seeing as how this is his first theatrical feature length film and it's an adaptation of a beloved work. The film looks great and Alvarez always manages to keep it visually interesting, adding to the fun. The script is pretty good and while it does lack humor (Slightly surprising seeing as how Juno's Diablo Cody worked on the script), it's not a major flaw seeing as how the original lacked the series famous sense of humor as well. The actors all do a fine job, though they all can get to be a bit too campy at times. We don't get to know them that well before they start chopping themselves up, but I suspect that won't matter. After all, it this film's planned sequel follows the original series, the next film will just retcon this film anyway. But still it would have been nice to connect with these characters a little bit more. The story works and includes some clever turns, including having Mia suffering from withdrawal at the time of possession, so no one figure out right away that she's a Deadite. Nothing too special, but still a lot of fun.

Practical effects are always best.
The Verdict

      As a fan of the original series, I can gladly say the this 2013 version of Evil Dead has earned a spot next to all the other films in the series. While it's not particularly necessary and that original, it does make good use of the material, making for some memorable gore scenes and a story that I'd definitely follows into a sequel. Director Alvarez makes a visually interesting film and all in all the film is just a fun, mildly scary ride from start to finish. I'll happily including this film if I have an Evil Dead marathon. Evil Dead (2013) gets 5 stars out of 6. 

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