With the endless throngs of the American public pleading with Hollywood to stop with horror movie remakes and create something original and horrifying, naturally Fede Alvarez directs the remake of the cult classic, Evil Dead. However, if it’s any consolation to the public, at least this film is done well.
Our story centers around five friends who are there to help Mia, played by Jane Levy, quit her drugs cold turkey. However, while they’re there, she keeps complaining of smelling a putrid odor coming from the house. They uncover a basement where there seems to have been demonic rituals taking place as one room is adorned with dead cats, blood smears on the wall, burnt pillars where it seems ritualistic sacrifices took place and an ominous book. Eric, played by Lou Taylor Pucci, despite glaring warnings from the text, reads an excerpt from the Necronomicon aloud; unleashing a malevolent entity upon the hapless group. From a synopsis, it would seem that there is nothing separating this version of Evil Dead from any other horror film featuring a lone cabin in the woods and friends who inhabit it for a weekend. Regardless, there is enough originality here to make it a strong, stand-alone film as well as a worthy homage to its predecessor.
With Sam Raimi and Bruce Campbell producing, there was great care taken to maintain the credibility of the source material. Throughout this movie, there are nods to the entire Evil Dead franchise, particularly one scene featuring a now iconic power tool that will leave fans cheering. So, fans of the franchise can rest easy knowing that great respect and care was taken with their precious movies. But how is the film in and of itself?
The characters, although at times dull and not memorable, are perhaps the most realistic depiction of 20-somethings. Sure, they’re all together in the cabin, but that doesn’t mean it’s an excuse to get drunk. They have a legitimate excuse for not leaving the cabin or for using their cell phones until it’s too late. Toward the end, when Eric and David, played by Shiloh Fernandez, read in the book how to purify the souls, David looks to Eric and asks, “are you sure this will work?” in the traditional horror movie cliché. Eric looks back at him and says, “how the hell would I know!” It is these sympathetic actions and plights that strengthen the characters.
The special effects and gore in this movie are truly wonderful. As opposed to most modern horror, this one seems to rely almost entirely on practical effects with a minimal amount of CGI. I also really appreciated the post-production work on this film. The editing wasn’t cut so fast that you couldn’t tell what was happening, but there wasn’t any shot that was so long to create convulsions in the audience either! However, there was still some imagery haunting enough to chill even the most tempered of audience members.
Horror movies are infamous for their third act twists; last jumps from the supposedly defeated threat and last minute saves of the protagonist. For the sake of spoilers, the final act won’t be shared here. However, the entire last 15 minutes of the movie were beyond prediction. For any movie to create a legitimate surprise in character and plot development, regardless of genre, is worthy of praise.
That said, the movie isn’t without its problems. For as interesting as its finish was, the film had an almost unbearablly slow start. There are some needless characters, for example, David’s girlfriend Natalie played by Elizabeth Blackmore who has at most 10 lines of dialogue. The comedic aspects were so downplayed that they almost went completely unrecognized by most of the audience, despite that very dark comedy has been indicative of the franchise. Even minor details stood out- like where did they get the material for Mia’s makeshift cage? And why don’t horror film characters ever understand how a nail gun works? Still these were easily overcome errors!
Evil Dead won’t leave anyone completely satisfied; whether fan of the original movies or someone viewing this without context. The characters are realistic yet forgettable. The effects and lighting are superb, but the pacing is completely off. The ending is both ridiculous and entertaining, but the beginning serves no purpose whatsoever. The best way to sum up is it’s not bad, but it’s the absolute best that a “not bad” can be and still not quite be truly good. Two and 9/10 stars out of four.
Watch the trailer here.