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Evil Dead (2013)

Cover art:

reviews/evil-dead-remakes.jpg

Evil Dead (2013)Starring Jane Levy, Shiloh Fernandez, Lou Taylor Pucci, Jessica Lucas, Elizabeth Blackmore

Directed by Fede Alvarez


There are pretty much two questions we all had going into Fede Alvarez’s Evil Dead “rebirth” (a term the director used that seems rather fitting, more so than remake anyway): one, is it going to be good. and two, is it going to be good enough to stand on its own merits?

The answer to both those questions is HELLS YEAH.

Breathe a sigh of relief, fiends- Evil Dead delivers the goods and then some, even managing to step out and create its own universe that still wholly adheres to the one Sam Raimi concocted over three decades now. The amount of intensity, violence and downright nastiness that Alvarez manages to cram into Evil Dead is brutal, visceral and will prove to be an endurance test (in a good way) for anyone out there who goes into it thinking this is going to be another “by-the-numbers” studio remake.

The story of Evil Dead is pretty straightforward: Five friends go into the woods to help one of them kick a drug habit at their old family cabin located in the middle of nowhere. When they get there, the group discovers that someone has broken into the cabin previously and left quite a terrible mess (and a copy of the Book of the Dead conveniently enough) in the basement. Of course one of those friends just happens to take an interest in the book, and soon enough demonic forces are unleashed, limbs start flying and all hell breaks loose inside that tiny cabin.

And when I say hell, I mean the unholiest hell you can imagine- there’s dismemberment, people cutting their own faces off, someone getting scalded and covered with grotesque scabs and sores, a relentless nail gun attack and a ton more that I wouldn’t dream of giving away as it would ruin some of the gore-soaked fun (all of that stuff is referenced in the trailers so no spoilers). Suffice to say, when Alvarez said that on this Evil Dead they were going to push the R rating as far they could, he wasn’t effing around in the least bit.

Oh, and if you think Raimi crossed a line with his “rape vines” in the original Evil Dead, Alvarez doesn’t even consider the line while he’s crossing it at all. We start off with the scene we’re expecting and then – BAM – Alvarez takes it a notch further, making for a truly uncomfortable but highly effective moment of horror. It’s a great homage to the original’s iconic scene and really sets the tone for all that follows.

The Evil Dead cast across the board are pretty great, but Jane Levy truly owns this flick as the things she’s forced to endure make her performance all the more authentic and downright badass. There are also some interesting things that happen with her character which I won’t necessarily discuss here, but the way that Alvarez and co-writer Rodo Sayagues play with the concepts of victims and villains in Evil Dead is some rather fascinating stuff to watch for longtime horror fans who come to expect certain things from their favorite genre movies.

If forced to nitpick, the only downside to Evil Dead is that during its finale it seems like no one was quite sure how to resolve everything satisfactorily, and so things feel a bit rushed, with the story even seeming to betray its own rules at one point. Does it take anything away from the movie as a whole? Not really- but I was hoping Alvarez and company would finish as strongly as they started, and that wasn’t necessarily the case. We also get tied up a bit in some of the characters’ personal business in the first act that kind of slows things down a bit, but thankfully, business picks back up in no time at all as Alvarez, for the most part, keeps the movie going forward at a brisk and sometimes frenetic pace.

As a whole, though, Evil Dead truly delivers on the bold promises its poster made last fall- it is downright intense, at some points even terrifying and by far one of the most brutal flicks (with an R rating) I can remember seeing on the big screen in ages. Most fans of the original should love Alvarez’s version for its sheer ballsiness and gut-punch, no-nonsense approach; but I’m sure there are others out there who will be pissed this isn’t “funnier” (it seems like people forget Raimi wasn’t making a horror comedy back in the day), but that’s not necessarily the point of this movie.

It may not be the “reimagining” we were expecting at all, but that’s what makes this Evil Dead so great. Not once does Alvarez pander to the fans; he made the movie he wanted to make and tells the story he wanted to tell, and that passion and his own unabashed bloodlust show proudly here. THIS is where you all want to be come April 5th.

Oh, and make sure to stay through the credits, too.

4 out of 5

Discuss Evil Dead in the comments section below!

thehorrorchick

39 Comments

  1. Now, this, THIS is how you do a remake. It completely reveres the source material without hammering homages into your skull and lives up to the spirit of the franchise perfectly. Hell, it may even be more violent than the original and that’s saying something. When we talk about the few great remakes there have been, this easily joins their ranks. As an Evil Dead and more importantly as a horror fan I could not have been happier with the flick.

    My only critique is it loses a bit of momentum is the third act, but it quickly gets it back leading to one of the greatest gore gags I’ve ever seen. It wasn’t “Terrifying” as the poster claims but holy shit did it deliver on all counts.

    Stay passed the credits, kids. It’s so worth it. I can see Evil Dead topping lots of year end lists. Hats off to Fede Alvarez and his crew. They got it and they knocked the ball not only out of the park but into the next state.

    • All I hear about is the gore and violence. That’s good and fine, but how is the story, the acting, the overall structure? A few reviews I read indicate that the gore and violence is excellent, but the story and movie as a whole are unremarkable. Do you think this film will have staying power as a classic in its own right? Is it a companion piece more so than a remake?

      • The story is exactly what you expect it to be. It’s the same one from Evil Dead and Evil Dead 2 with its own flavor sprinkled in. I do believe this will have the staying power to be a considered a modern horror classic. It’s easy in your head to try and connect this film with the original trilogy, and I’m sure many will do so. The fact is this is a worthy entry in the Evil Dead canon. Surprisingly so.

      • I would say the script is really strong – it gives you a chance to get to know the characters so you feel for them when the shit starts hitting the fan. A few do stupid things (people in our screening were groaning and yelling at them), but that’s all part of its charm for us horror fans who are familiar with that scenario. The pacing is a little off during the third act, but mostly that’s because they want you to think it’s wrapping up before the really big reveal comes. The acting is pretty good, too, especially Levy. Man, they put her through the ringer and then some. The weakest link to me was the brother (Fernandez), but since it’s really just the five of them throughout, they’re all asked to carry a lot on their shoulders and do so admirably overall. I’m still not sure how they got all the gore gags through the MPAA – probably because it’s a big corporation behind it and not some indie group.

      • One thing I forgot to mention is how absolutely beautiful it looks, especially in the beginning as it draws you into the story. Major kudos to cinematographer Aaron Morton.

  2. HOLY FUCKING SHIT. Evil Dead swings for the fucking fence. This movie was way more than I had expected, it was like discovering Evil Dead for the first time all over again. This is the kind of movie I would call all my friends up and have over for a movie night back in the day. This movie could bring horror back in a big way if it gains the kind of traction it has the potential to.

  3. I originally wasn’t sure how I felt about this film being made. I know I’ll definitely be checking it out now!

  4. I was super-excited but these reviews make me nervous. I’m disheartened to hear it’s nothing but gore and fan service.

        • Dude… it’s EVIL DEAD not high art. If it didn’t have gore and fan service it’d be crucified. Speaking as someone who only liked the original flick (2 was way to slapsticky for me, and 3 was even worse) I’m glad they chose the more serious gorefest route.

          • I have to agree with Creepy here. He’s still a blasphemer for not liking Evil Dead 2 and Army of Darkness though. I hope Bruce beats you senseless with his epic chin!

    • With that attitude we’d of never Carpenter’s The Thing, The Blob, Cronenberg’s The Fly, Snyder’s Dawn of the Dead, etc. All great movies. When done right a remake can work.

      • It’s been nine, let me say that again, NINE years since Snyder’s DAWN remake hit and there hasn’t been one good remake until Aja’s PIRANHA. Of course you use the examples of THE THING and THE FLY but when those were made we horror fans haven’t been inundated with shitty remake after shitty remake like we have now.

        If THE EVIL DEAD turns out to be a great movie that’s all well and good but in the end it’s just a well made remake banking on brand recognition instead of an original premise.

      • I’m so sick of seeing those remakes referenced in conversations whenever another remake is on the horizon. Yes, there have been great remakes. But those remakes, with the exception of Dawn ’04 and the 80’s Blob, all broke new ground. It’s been perfectly clear to the moviegoer that studios and directors nowadays have no fucking interest in approaching the material from a different direction. Those days are long gone, I’m sorry to say. I don’t know how many times horror fans need to be smacked upside the head before they get it.

      • We also wouldn’t have Black Xmas, When a Stranger Calls, The Fog, the slew of Platinum Dumbs titles, Day of the Dead, Night of the Living Dead 3D and other variations of NOTLD, Carrie 2002, The Wicker Man, Zombieween, Z2, The Haunting, Mirrors, The Amityville Horror, The Hitcher, One Missed Call, Prom Night, House of Wax, The omen, Sisters, and Pulse. Just to name a few.

        I can see the merits of a remake, but I also can’t get over how they’re 95 percent of the time just making money on name recognition from horror geeks. It’s a tough issue.

  5. Looking forward to this quite a bit. Huge fan of the original, but ever since that trailer came out, this has been at the top of my must see list. Great review, also. I’m glad someone who had an open mind was there, and didn’t dismiss this outright. Should be fun next month!

  6. I’ll wait for more reviews. And the term “rebirth” instead of “remake” is awful. I really hope people don’t start using that to sell remakes.

    • Rebirth is a term the director used to intro the movie and I found it very fitting. I can only write the word remake or reimagining so much…

      • “Rebirth” is such a stupid way of saying remake. Just say remake. That’s like calling used cars pre-owned, or strippers exotic dancers. I mean just call it what it is, cut the pretense crap.

        • It’s funny to me that out of my whole review you’re hung up on one word….get over it. Don’t like it? Take it up with the director or just stop reading my reviews altogether. After all, I’m just a “chick”- what could I possibly know after working in the industry for almost 7 years, right?

          And you’ll also find that most press there last night share in my enthusiasm for the flick too. It’s just wicked, nasty fun. Either way, hope you enjoy it when it comes out.

          • I suggest that “Rejaculate” enter the venacular.

            Very stoked to see this now.

          • You being a “chick” has nothing to do with it.

            And puh-leeeeeease spare me the sexist card. I don’t give a shit about your breasts or gender, so that excuse is old hat right out the gate.

            I don’t care if you were born from the frozen womb of Mary Shelley with splooge from Clive Barker and baptized by Lucio Fulci, that doesn’t make your opinion gospel. Although that’d make for a bad ass novel.

            I don’t care if you and Wes Craven play golf on the weekend, or you have a time share with George Romero (That’d also be cool), I don’t give two fucks about your “industry” work. Save it.

            And no not everyone is high on the movie, from what I’ve read. See, I’ve been reading around and such, and don’t follow one opinion only like your plant Kyle Key, or whatever friend or roommate or boyfriend you asked to sign up to the site to give me a good scolding to keep me from hurting your feelings.

            If you’ve really been working for seven years in the “industry” then you’d know not to get so damn sensitive and pissy about someone wanting to seek out other opinions before spending money on a movie.

            I want to keep an open mind and be cautious before spending money. Ever hear of “Buyer beware”?

            Humility is not your best trait, my friend.

            I’m talking about the movie from here on in, so you and your best bud Kyle feel free to email me if you want to continue our lovely dialogue: rpgforms@yahoo.com

            Adios.

          • No offense dude but you come on to almost EVERY SINGLE review of mine and trash it…yeah, I don’t take that personally at all. My job is all personal- I gave up my entire life, financial security and everything to do what I love and it will never not be personal for me. If people don’t like what I write or don’t agree- that’s totally cool. I’m always open to a real, intelligent discussion. Coming on and just trashing my review because I used ONE word the director likened the flick to is just dumb. Sorry.

            And in terms of Kyle, not sure who he is to be perfectly honest. My boyfriend (who also works for DC sometimes) would go under BrianDreads and frankly, he knows I can hold my own. Never asked him to fight one battle for me and don’t plan on starting any time soon.

            Frankly, you’re the reason I stopped reading comments on my reviews for so long- for this one I came back on because it’s such a huge moment for the fans out there but thanks for reaffirming my decision in continuing to just never go back to my reviews at all after their posted.

            I’d welcome you to continue this discussion by offering MY email but frankly I don’t really care. Have fun trashing the rest of my reviews in the future sir!

          • More people than I tend to criticize your review style and yet you only really take issue with my responses. And I simply said “I’ll wait for more opinions.” I don’t know how or why that hurt your feelings so much, but pardon me for wanting a wider verdict on the film.

            You seem to think “I wrote it for Dread Central, that should be all you need for this movie.” Sorry, but even with sources I respect and trust like the AV Club or Roger Ebert, I still wait to hear more from other people.

            Congratulations on sacrificing for your work. Join the club.

            Just keep writing for DC, shit, thicken your skin, you’re going to need it in your “industry” work.

            Adios!

          • “See, I’ve been reading around and such, and don’t follow one opinion only like your plant Kyle Key, or whatever friend or roommate or boyfriend you asked to sign up to the site to give me a good scolding to keep me from hurting your feelings.”

            Haha, so you’re bitter, jaded, and think people are out to get you. Looks like you’re even more lonely and egotistical than I thought. Sorry to burst your conspiracy bubble, but I’m merely a random reader who felt like pointing out the douchiness of a “terminal” commenter.

    • It’d be difficult to make yourself sound more bitter or jaded than by starting a comment with an unprovoked “I’ll wait for more reviews.”

      • I don’t take one opinion as gospel, le gasp! I’m going to go to Rotten Tomatoes later for more opinions, the horror! I’m going to wait for more opinions before deciding to watch the movie, what a travesty!

        • Like I said, bitter and jaded. What’s being pointed out is that no one cares whether Terminal is going to wait for more reviews, not that there’s an issue with reading multiple. The act of blurting out ‘Here’s what I’m going to do now!,’ especially in such a cynical way, reeks of loneliness and a need to have your ego stroked. Also, RottenTomatoes is a poor source for gauging horror films, as the vast majority of their reviewers aren’t horror fans.

          • Kyle, I’ll just have to find a way to go on with your disapproval. I’ll manage, I think.

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