Evil Dead Directed by: Fede Alvaraez Cast: Jane Levy, Shiloh Fernandez, Lou Taylor Pucci, Jessica Lucas, Elizabeth Blackmore Running Time: 1 hr 31 mins Rating: R Release Date: April 5, 2013
PLOT: A group of meddling young adults accidentally unleash a satanic being during their impromptu gathering at a cabin in the woods.
WHO'S IT FOR? While it may not stand up to The Evil Dead, I find it hard to think the original fan demographic won't enjoy even the basic elements of this remake. Anyone looking for a unique scare should take a look; fans of the color red definitely won't be disappointed.
EXPECTATIONS: The original film (The Evil Dead) is not a movie I hold close to my heart, so I wasn't going into this movie with sensitive taste. If anything, I was looking to be freaked out by a fresher take.
Jane Levy as Mia: While the "Deadite" makeup certainly adds a surface level of freakishness, it's Levy who makes this film more than just any regular blood-soaked horror movie set in a cabin in the woods. Levy, far from being the redhead I know from last year's Fun Size, plays into all sides of Evil Dead's terror; looking terrified, and looking terrifying as well. Levy brings the all-out intensity this movie needs to match this story's pulverizing sense of atmosphere, and for its horror to take flight. Here, Levy's even scary to look at when she herself is petrified. Score: 7
Rest of Cast: That being said, everyone else in Evil Dead gets far less interesting, in which the film shrugs its shoulders at the concept of creating characters who are more than just walking blood packets waiting to be ripped open. This movie too easily forfeits to the idea of "Well, they're probably gonna die anyway," which greatly takes away from the central genre thrill in watching them try not to die. Aside from Fernandez, who plays Mia's brother, the other three are sentence-long portrayals of walking dead meat. Score: 3
TALKING: The certainly desired aspects of comic relief feel too planted to be the slick jokes they want to be. Instead, they're like an anticlimactic disruptions from the tension, and are too separate from the rest of the chaotic tone. Score: 4
SIGHTS: Alongside with Levy's performance, Evil Dead is a triumph of horror aesthetics. This is how horror movies should look, with a strong sense of atmosphere, frightening makeup, and a keen eye on when light can be used for anxiety (just look at how foggy this movie is). Its violence is perhaps its main draw, and that does deliver on a red-heavy level similar to something like Tokyo Gore Police (just guess by looking at that title). Score: 8
SOUNDS: This is a horror score that celebrates the pulverizing potential of an orchestra score. Its chorus sounds like the sirens for the gates of hell, the bellowing brass sound like explosions, and the creaky strings sound like fingers getting closer and closer to the back of our heads. One doesn't need to look farther than Evil Dead's title moment to see all of these elements at effective play. Score: 7
BEST SCENE: Though it certainly had me trying to look away, the scene in which Natalie and Mia are "bonding" in the basement is a fine mix of the movie's squeamish potential, along with the aesthetic effects of labored makeup and specific lighting.
ENDING: There is something at the end of credits. It is unexpected, but it's only for those aware of the original films.
QUESTIONS: Does the scene after the credits mean the next Evil Dead will be goofier?
REWATCHABILITY: There are some images I would prefer not to look at again even on the IMDb page, so that says something. As opposed for the non-tense, non-frightening stuff, I imagine this movie would feel very slooowww in a second viewing.
A year ago next week cult favorite The Cabin in the Woods was released, and read out loud the manual to writing horror scripts, breaking the solemnity of certain aspects that have been repeated numerously through the genre's history. This remake of the 1981 film Evil Dead does not suffer from post-Cabin aura, but it becomes clear with Cabin in the background that some rules have not changed. Sometimes, young adults are placed in such wood habitats for no purpose than to provide visuals of a human slaughterhouse, and no further explanation (or a clever one) is needed from a film.
It's too bad first-time handpicked director Alvarez had to work with such a script, as his horror aesthetics are so sharp, whereas his script is not so much. Here is a movie with such strong peaks of terror that it becomes often too unbelievable these supposed human beings would stick around, even when logic isn't a question, and these characters embark on Pain Olympics row. With such real bits of fear in this movie, we can't sympathize with these dimwitted folk that they'd bury remaining dead cats, go into a basement that smells like dead cats, or even stay in the house after the first fifteen minutes.
To Alvarez's credit in terms of "living up" to the original, he does make it believable that someone would open the Book of the Dead once again, and that a story such as this is unique in the larger scheme of genre fare. However, his film certainly makes us wish everyone would be a little smarter about it.
FINAL SCORE: 6/10