Friday, April 5, 2013

Evil Dead (2013) - Movie Review

Never underestimate the power of duct tape...

If the above doesn't make any sense to you, it will all become clear after watching Evil Dead, the reimaging/remake of the classic horror film from Sam Raimi.  I'm sure existing fans of the series will wonder why in the hell there was even an attempt, but if there's money in it, you know it's going to happen.  I was surprised to see that Sam Raimi and Bruce Campbell were producing though, so I hoped that with their guidance it wouldn't be a complete waste of time.

You'll quickly find out that this Evil Dead is tonally much different than the original.  It's been a few years since I've seen Evil Dead, so forgive me if my recollection of the original may be a little shaky.  I actually started with Evil Dead 2 over 20 years ago, and that still remains one of my favorite horror films of all time.

The familiar setup is here.  Five twenty-somethings head to the cabin in the woods to help Mia (Jane Levy) get over a drug addiction.  One of the five is her older brother David (Shiloh Fernandez), whom she's apparently lost touch with since the death of their mother.  While Mia is going through withdrawal, they stumble upon something in the basement, including a flesh-covered book.  You know which one (although I don't recall it ever being mentioned by name this time around).  Of course Eric (Lou Taylor Pucci), the 70's hipster, decides to read the book aloud for some reason, despite it being covered in warnings not to.  Everything goes to hell after that.

The one thing I'll give Evil Dead credit for is it's liberal use of gore. If you've been following my blog at all, you know that one of the things I really hate in film, especially horror, is the use of CG blood and gore.  I don't think I noticed any CG effects this time around.  Everything appeared to be a practical effect, which made for a much more visceral experience.  There are some great gross out moments that just made me smile and I applaud the movie for going for it.

There are also a lot of references and callbacks to the original, which should please fans, but I thought some felt forced in or weren't really used effectively.  Oh, but is there a tree rape, you might ask?  Well, sort of.  Lets just say that a tree gets an assist this time, so is that really a legitimate tree rape?

Despite the darker tone and use of gore, Evil Dead really doesn't manage to be very scary, and kind of uninteresting at times.  There's very little character development, and you don't care at all what happens to these people.  They engage in typical, eye-rollingly moronic behavior throughout the film.  When the majority of the fairly young crowd I saw this with is also groaning at the stupidity of the actions of the characters, then you know this part of the film is pretty weak.  None of these guys acted normally, even early on.  When David finds out Mia had a overdose recently, his reaction is so dispassionate that it was hard to believe he was human, let alone that he genuinely cared about his sister.

The one person I really did enjoy though was Jane Levy as Mia.  I've only caught bits and pieces of her on Suburgatory when my DVR records the last few minutes leading into Modern Family, but she's come across to me as a smart, appealing young actress.  I really dug her commitment to the role with her willingness to get down and dirty, and in some cases outright ugly.

It's kind of ironic that The Cabin in the Woods used the same setting from Evil Dead, as Cabin was such a deconstruction and tribute to horror films, but when we come back to an actual Evil Dead movie, we're back to many of the things that Cabin poked fun at.  Another issue with this modern Evil Dead is that all of the fun is gone.  I get that they were going for a darker reimaging here, but it's like director Fede Alvarez thought darker just meant to replace all traces of humor with more blood.  Don't get me wrong though, I still loved the blood!  I also heard they brought in Diablo Cody to try to Americanize the script, since English is not the first language of either Alvarez or co-writer Rodo Sayagues, but that they didn't use enough of her edits.  That seems like a mistake, as her punch up could have really helped give some life to the characters.

Oh, and if you're a fan of the originals, you may want to stick to the end of the credits.

I'm a little torn on this one.  While I loved all the blood and gore, it lacked the fun or genuine scares to make it really stand out for me.  If this wasn't an Evil Dead film, then I would have said it was simply a good, gory horror film.  However, since this is called Evil Dead, the bar, and my expectations, are set higher.  If you're fan of horror, I think there's enough here you'll enjoy, but I didn't find it game changing.  It's worth a watch though.

3 (out of 5) Death Stars


  1. Agreed about it not being very scary but I thought a good portion of the effects were accomplished with CGI.

    1. You might be right, but most everything I've read was that it was mostly, if not all, practical. For all I know the cast and crew could just be talking out of their asses, or just trying to build hype. :) Thanks again for the comments.