Director: Fede Alvarez
Writers: Fede Alvarez, Rodo Sayagues, Diablo Cody (uncredited)
Starring: Jane Levy, Jessica Lucas, Shiloh Fernandez, Lou Taylor Pucci
Running time: 91 minutes
Cinema release date: 19 April 2013
The original 1981 version of The Evil Dead holds a special place in the heart of pretty much every horror movie fan out there. A film shot on a shoestring budget by a group of amateur film making friends, The Evil Dead brought to the screen a vision of horror that proved to be a paradigm shift in what a horror movie could be. With a vein of darkly depraved humour running throughout and a screen awash with unheard amounts of blood and unflinching gore effects, The Evil Dead was the horror movie that had to be seen to be believed. The following media frenzy surrounding the film due to its inclusion on the UK ‘Video Nasty’ list only helped to secure its place in history as one of the most notorious cult horror movies ever made.
It’s no surprise then that when the remake of The Evil Dead was first announced in 2011, the horror faithful around the world collectively held their heads in exacerbation. Barring very few exceptions (Zack Snyder’s Dawn Of the Dead being a notable one), the track record of the Hollywood horror remake trend has not been a good one and the idea of anyone remaking something held in such hallowed regard as The Evil Dead seemed like one remake too far.
Directed by newcomer Fede Alvarez and produced by the creators of the original – Sam Raimi, Rob Tapert and Bruce Campbell – this new telling of the tale straddles a path somewhere between remake and homage. The basic premise of the original is still here, a group of friends go to a remote cabin and mistakenly summon demonic forces who possess and terrorise them, but sensibly Alverez and the writers have taken the choice to tweak the plot somewhat to make the film their own and as a result the Evil Dead is so much better for it.
Mia (Jane Levy) is a recovering drug addict who has travelled to the old family cabin with her friends and brother in an attempt to kick her habit. She plans to go cold turkey and her friends plan to keep her there until it is done. When they go to investigate an awful smell coming from the cabin basement not long after arriving, the group discover a mysterious book bound in barbed wire – and when one of them breaks into the book and reads from it, he unwittingly unleashes a demonic force that possesses Mia. As Mia’s mental and physical state breaks down the group put her erratic behaviour and wild stories down to her withdrawal symptoms, but too late they realise their mistake and what follows is a tour de force of gore as nail guns, razor blades, syringes, electric carving knives, and yes, a chainsaw, are all used to ramp up the nastiness to a limb ripping crescendo where the blood (literally) rains down by the gallon. Favouring mainly on set practical effects over CGI, the gore is fantastically realised and while admittedly the film is all but bereft of any real scares, it is with the visceral, unflinching splatter that the film truly shines. A mention must also be made to the cinematography, which is fantastic throughout and brings real menace and a strange beauty to the cabin and in particular the woods surrounding it.
Evil Dead isn’t perfect though. Overall, the script is somewhat weak, any characterisation is all but non-existent, at times the acting leaves something to be desired and at times the plot has its issues, but in a movie such as this these are minor points. When all hell breaks loose, limbs are severed and the blood flies, all is forgotten and forgiven.
While it was never going to be a game changing film like the 1981 version, Evil Dead is a great modern day horror that shows reverence to the original while standing on its own feet and it very much succeeds where so many others have tried and failed – it is a remake that is worthy of its original.