US | 2013 | directed by Fede Alvarez
Logline: Whilst staying in a remote forest cabin five friends are terrorised by an evil supernatural presence that steadily possesses each person turning them into malevolent demons.
“Kunda ... Estrata ... Montose ... Conda.”
Don’t say it, don’t write it, don’t hear it. The words of warning scrawled within the Natorum Demonto, the Book of the Dead. But of course, it’s too late. And now all hell will break loose.
Fuck yeah. I’ve been hanging for this mayhem for some time having seen the awesome teaser trailer to the remake of Sam Raimi’s The Evil Dead (1981), one of my favourite horror movies, some time back. When I first read about Sam Raimi giving the green light to a remake of his own movie (there was even talk he would direct), I was very reticent indeed. As a rule I don’t much care for remakes of cult classics.
Sure The Evil Dead is a very low-budget, poorly acted, almost camp tour-de-gore. But, in the same vein of championship of many of the movies of Dario Argento, it’s less to do with the movie’s limitations, and more to do with the movies extraordinary atmosphere and tone. In that respect I felt the idea of tampering with Riami’s original was tantamount to treason.
But I’ve had to eat my words, and I don’t mind the taste.
Raimi selected Fede Alvarez after he saw the impressive sf short Panic Attack! (Ataque de Panico!). Federez has tilted his hat to Raimi without the movie being a slavish regurgitation of events. Evil Dead drops the “The”, which in itself is a curious nod to the way horrorphile’s refer to Riami’s original. But Alvarez’s version is in many ways very different, yet sits in a position that could almost be as direct sequel to the original movie.
Five new victims, and the same cabin, thirty years down the track, perhaps? Well, the fact that Ash’s “The Classic” ’73 Oldsmobile Delta 88 is sitting derelict near the cabin suggests the first movie has already happened. The cabin looks identical, even the same clock is on the wall! And most notably, there is no Ash character.
But the possession technique the demons use is much more linear, the Book of the Dead looks quite different, and the cabin is owned by the parents of the brother and sister, not by the doomed Professor Knowby, from the original movie.
Many critics and some audiences have slammed Evil Dead for being shallow and excessively violent, but they’ve completely missed the point. Evil Dead is an instant cult slap in the face for jaded horror fans. It’s a hark back to the Scarlet Age of Horror, and if I need to get up on my crusty soapbox and shout it out I will. Thank you Fede Alvarez for using almost entirely practical special effects, prosthetics, for employing realistic blood and gore, for not opting for comic relief, for using beautifully tenebrous cinematography, and casting relative unknowns.
Jane Levy is excellent in the role of Mia, the sister who is battling a drug addiction. Lou Taylor Pucci is also impressive as the foolish friend who writes and recites the dreaded incantation. I wasn’t as convinced by Shiloh Fernandez as Mia’s brother, and I felt the movie didn’t need the late-in-the-game family discussion the two sibling’s have, but these are small quibbles.
When I read that Diablo Cody was involved in the screenplay I rolled my eyes, as I thought her horror screenplay Jennifer’s Body was clueless, but her character and dialogue tweaks are minor, and if you’re familiar with her you’ll be able to pick some of these moments, and they work fine.
I didn’t much care for Star Trek Into Darkness, but then I’m not a Trekkie, and that movie appeals hugely to the diehard fans. I guess the same can be said for Evil Dead, if you’re a fan of the original you’ll appreciate the references and yet you’ll admire the purity of Alvarez’s horror stylistics, he’s made his version for the True Believers.
Oh, and make sure you stick around ‘til the end of the credits.