Evil Dead (2013)
Director: Fede Alvarez
Cast: Jane Levy, Shiloh Fernandez, Lou Taylor Pucci, Jessica Lucas, Elizabeth Blackmore
Plot: Five friends head to a remote cabin, where the discovery of a Book of the Dead leads them to unwittingly summon up demons living in the nearby woods. The evil presence possesses them and they are left to fight for survival and their sanity.
Rating: R21 for strong bloody violence and gore, some sexual content and language.
IN RETROSPECT (Spoilers: NO)
“I will feast on your soul!”
When Sam Raimi released the original The Evil Dead back in 1981, it scared and scarred audiences who dared to see it. Now very much a cult horror classic and assured of a position at the very top of lists of the best splatter-fest flicks ever made, the Raimi version is frightening, disturbing, and in retrospect, thought to be incredibly hilarious.
It went on to spawn Evil Dead 2 (1987), a sequel/remake of sorts, and Army of Darkness (1992), a campy time-travel bonanza. Bruce Campbell, the star of the trilogy, does not return for the new Evil Dead because well... it makes no sense. At his age, he wouldn’t last long with a severed arm anyway.
However, it makes complete sense not to touch a book that explicitly instructs you to leave it alone, let alone to recite a chant that you know will summon some nasty supernatural thing. A group of young adults do just that and voila!, we have a movie.
Produced by Raimi, and directed by newcomer Fede Alvarez, Evil Dead is a contemporary interpretation with some homage to the original such as the use of the freewheeling, tracking camera, and the infamous 'tree rape' sequence that kickstarts the whole chain of gory events. It is a polished film, well-directed and will please new (and possibly) old fans.
It is also scary, though it can sometimes be predictable. The success of the 1981 film leveraged on its sheer ludicrousness and some truly jolting moments; the new Evil Dead is straightforward, somewhat more defined by its set-pieces and focus on generating fear through suspense.
While it does not thoroughly engage, with a middle portion that sags a little, the film provides a final act that will leave you breathlessly satisfied. Alvarez has insisted that he used practical makeup (rather than CG) effects to create the gore. But the film feels too clean-looking, too digitalized to be entirely non-CG. Perhaps it was accomplished practically, but enhanced digitally in post-production.
While audiences in the early 1980s did not know what was in stored for them, I suspect the new generation of horror moviegoers might be too desensitized to really feel genuinely shocked. Movies such as the 'Saw' series and Hostel (2005) have paved way for extreme violence and gore to make significant headway in commercial cinema.
But that is not to say that watching Evil Dead is like a walk in the amusement park. It seems like a breeze for Alvarez though, who mostly delivers this genre picture with confidence, and has a few surprises up his bloodied sleeves.
Verdict: A confidently-directed horror film with loads of gore that is quite a solid modern interpretation of Sam Raimi's 1981 groundbreaking cult classic.
GRADE: B (7.5/10 or 3.5 stars)
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