Evil Dead (2013): Review

Director: Fede Alvarez
Writers: Fede Alvarez and Rodo Sayagues
Starring: Jane Levy, Shiloh Fernandez, Jessica Lucas
7/10

Without a doubt, “Evil Dead” is one of the most anticipated horror films of the year, perhaps even the decade (so far). I was beyond excited to have the chance to attend a pre-screening last night. The theater was packed, full of people from all walks of life, all ready for an extreme experience. We all got exactly what we wanted.

It’s impossible to review this film without drawing comparisons to the original. While not as fresh and purely horrific as Sam Raimi’s 1981 classic, this remake is a wild ride in its own right. There’s more of a story this time, with more human characters: Jane Levy plays a heroin addict who, aided by her friends and absent older brother (Fernandez), holes up in her family cabin so she can try to quit for good. Of course, they find the book, and chaos ensues.

After the release of the red band trailer, everyone knew this movie was going to be brutal. I can say with confidence that, even though the filmmakers had to cut it for an R release, the film will live up to expectations. The violence in the film is unrelenting, original and loads of fun. The Deadites use every possible household item to mutilate themselves and their still-human friends. I was particularly impressed by the lack of CGI as well – most of the effects are practical, which makes them so much nastier. The death scenes are certain to go down in horror history, and are the best I’ve seen for years. For sheer creativity, this film does extremely well.

Now, to put the original and the remake side by side. The characters are mostly new, but their fates are similar to those suffered by people in the original (and, without giving spoilers, I can say the reversals used are great). Though there’s no Ash, I found Jane Levy’s character to be very likable. References to both Evil Dead films can be found throughout, too – there’s the possessed hand, the cellar door, and even a nod to the chainsaw, to name just a few. This update is much more serious than the trilogy, but that doesn’t stop it from being just as fun. The screenwriters also decided to add some more substance to the Necronomicon, which I thought was a great touch. Overall, the update has the same level of intensity as the original, with some newer additions that make it easier to set the two apart. It’s missing the great 80’s vibe, but it’s still as much fun.

Of course, the film is very flawed. The dialogue is terrible, some of the cliches are used a little too often, and there are certain cheesy moments that are hard to ignore. I was a little disappointed by the ending, but at the same time loved what they did with parts of it. Still, by horror film standards, “Evil Dead” succeeds.

It’s not the most terrifying film you’ll ever experience, as the poster promises, but it’s a ton of fun and absolutely disgusting. A fantastic homage to the originals, while also setting itself apart from its predecessors. Definitely worth seeing, for any serious horror fan.

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