Published on July 23rd, 2013 | by Allan Brown8
Evil Dead Review
Movie Review: Evil Dead (2013)
Director: Fede Alvarez
Writers: Fede Alvarez
Cast: Jane Levy, Shiloh Fernandez, Lou Taylor Pucci
Plot: Five friends venture out to a remote cabin in the woods in an attempt to help one of their companions (Mia) overcome a drug affliction. When they discover the Book of the Dead in the cabins cellar it leads to them unwittingly summoning ancient demons (deadites) living in the nearby woods. Predictably, carnage ensues.
In 1981, twenty year old college student Sam Raimi, (Spider Man) with a budget of just $90,000, wrote, developed and directed the now well revered, monolithic cult classic, that is, The Evil Dead. Now some three decades on, we see this landmark horror film that inspired a generation of would be genre filmmakers, inevitably put through the forever turning conveyor belt of the unapologetic, Hollywood remake machine. But before you scream heresy, the project has been nurtured and overseen by none other than Evil Dead architects, Sam Raimi and Bruce Campbell (Ash), who have been on board as producers from the remakes conception. The torch has been past in faith to first time feature film director, Fede Alvarez, along with a more moderate budget of $17 million, in a hope to bring The Evil Dead to a new generation.
The Evil Dead remake follows the same formula as in the original. Five friends head to a remote cabin, where the discovery of the Book of the Dead leads them to unwittingly summon up demons living in the nearby woods. Predictably, all Hell breaks loose as the evil presence possesses them (deadites) until only one is left to fight for survival. There are a few deviations from the original in the form of a prologue. This adds very little and is essentially surplus to the overall plot. There is also an attempt of a back-story which gives some insight and understanding as to why our characters are there in the first place. This formula, although not watertight in its execution is the strongest ploy in the films narrative.
When it comes to Pizza I’m the kind of person that sticks to tradition, a purist if you will. The wacky topping crazed recipes of today that include chicken, pineapple, meatballs and sausage bring me out in hives, just at the thought. This trend of preference bleeds all the way through to my taste and issues with the genre of horror in film.
When I sit down to watch a horror film, despite if it’s a sub-genre or not, I expect the director to deliver on his promise, to create fear in some form, or at least for that to be the films main intention. Too often nowadays directors mix horror with humour and although many fan-boys would say this cross pollination of genres works, I for one don’t. I feel they ultimately cancel each other out and I often see the use of comedy in this type of film as a cop out. The two do not go hand in hand and for me at least, have never really worked. The Evil Dead (original) is a film that blends horror with humour and Raimi has openly said he always intended it to be his take on The Three Stooges with the inclusion of gore and horror. However, having viewed the picture in my early years, I feel the humour was lost on my youthful mind, as I viewed the 1981 original as a straight out and out horror movie. It was a film that left a lasting impression on my childhood, remaining one of the most relentlessly terrifying horror films I had seen at that time.
Although I inevitably have a soft spot for the Evil Dead Franchise I do fear viewing it today would force me to have a much altered opinion, but then nostalgia is a powerful thing and the very mechanism the remake does not have as a crutch on its side.
So how does the remake fair in the contemporary market?
Well, to say the BBFC (British Board of Film Classification) were in a charitable mood the day they gave Evil Dead 2013 an 18 rating for “bloody violence, gory horror and very strong language” would be a titanic understatement.
It’s true, Alvarez does not shy away or water down the unyielding visual macabre of the original and in-fact ramps it up. He delivers some truly gruesome, nasty, stomach churning, gore-tastic set-pieces. However, with all its buckets of blood and gore the film fails to be remotely scary or vaguely interesting. Its seemingly sole aim, to gross-out, sadly becomes very tedious, very quickly.
The transition from one event to the other is very sloppy and gives very little to the momentum of the overall wafer thin narrative. Each scene of dialogue between characters is carelessly and haphazardly thrown together resulting in nothing more than a trigger mechanism for next gory set-piece.
The effort to show some character depth early on falls away just as fast, resulting in a cast of one dimensional cardboard throwaways that we care nothing for and unfortunately this to goes for the existence of any plot .
To be fair, the remake does surpass its predecessor offering a more refined and polished production, authentic looking gore and physical effects, but it does lack the charm, sound, claustrophobic atmosphere and the relentless terror the original served by the bucket load.
Many have commented that the remake lacks the campy sense of humour the original offered and while I do agree it does take itself more seriously (despite the countless cheesy one liners, OTT gore and stale dialogue) I do not feel this is one of the main reasons it falls short on reaching the heights of its predecessor.
Despite this Evil Dead remake being in part a homage to 80s gore film, it does offer something surprisingly fresh in the horror genre of today that is saturated with cheap paranormal (Paranormal Activity), haunted house (Sinister) and found footage (V/H/S) schlock that constantly underwhelms despite swapping our cinemas week after week.
Summary: Evil Dead 2013 offers a more refined take on its predecessor and possibly a little more depth, and although at times it may look like the original it certainly lacks its charm and charisma. However, its ultimate stumbling block is in its unforgivable neglect and failure to be scary. "The Most Terrifying Film You Will Ever Experience" Hmmm, debateable.