Horror Review: Evil Dead (2013)

Evil DeadFive young adults go to a cabin in the woods to help their friend, Mia (Jane Levy) get off her drug addiction…but when a book is found and one of them reads it…let’s just say things are better left off where they were. Possession and bodily mutilation is on the menu!
Review:Remakes are a funny thing. We complain and complain, but they just don’t stop coming. I’m starting to stop caring, because now a good movie is a good movie, so whatever. Evil Dead was announced and of course I went through the usual rollercoaster of emotions:Step 1. Question why would they remake this classic?
Step 2. Be angry at the fact they are remaking another great movie.
Step 3. Come to terms with the remake.
Step 4. Make up your mind about the remake after actually seeing it.

But everything changed when I got my hands on the script (I know I’m a bad person) and I didn’t hate it. In fact I liked it quite a bit…and then the red-band trailers ROCKED MY DAMN SOCKS OFF! That lead to the positive word of mouth from nearly every horror critic, and this quickly became a must-see. And I’m glad I saw it, because I walked out of the theatre with a giant smile on my face.

The movie started on the right note with a twisted little opening scene and then went onto slyly set up the premise. The movie starts off with a group of young friends taking their drug-addicted friend to a cabin to help her get off the drugs. I thought this idea was brilliant because when the character becomes possessed, the characters at first believe it is just withdrawal and it’s just a freaky sight. It added a new layer to the film. That is one thing this film did perfectly. It took the premise of the original film and did it’s own thing and told it’s own tale. I’m glad they left out Ash, because honestly only Bruce could ever play Ash, and in doing so, it set this film apart from the original trilogy. Honestly this movie could even be considered a sequel, as it could sit perfectly in the original franchise. The car from the original film even shows up, and I believe it’s the SAME car the characters in the original film drove as well!

And yes you have heard right, the gore effect are completely 100% practical and it’s a beautiful sight. The movie is gruesome, revolting, disgusting…AND I LOVED IT! All anyone has been talking about are the practical effects and there’s a reason why. They look FANTASTIC. This film is proof that practical effects always beat out CGI. I’m a gore fiend, and I just couldn’t get enough of the effects. They were just brilliant and added to my enjoyment of the film. The gore was my favourite part and it just never seemed to end!

I was surprised at how much I grew to like the characters, especially Mia and David. I liked their chemistry together and individually I liked each one of them in some way, even the lesser developed ones. The heart of the film was Mia and David’s relationship. David cares for his sister, but he obviously has some guilt for something that happened in the past, and I liked how the film went over that and their strained relationship. Yeah, it’s been done before, but it still worked for me and by the end I really cared about these two. Eric (well played by Lou Taylor Pucci, who had some great lines) was my next favourite. I just loved the way he spoke and even though he was the idiot who read the passage, he was also the first one to do what was necessary to survive. He seemed like a smart guy who just didn’t know what he was doing. Olivia (Jessica Lucas) and Natalie (Elizabeth Blackmore) were likable…but they kind of were just there. I’ll state more on that later.

Now I’ve mentioned the fact that one of the leads, Mia, has a drug problem and you could actually look at the movie as a metaphor for drug addiction. Mia is a young woman whose life has been taken by drugs and it has possessed her body and soul and now she is trying to tear herself away but it just keeps on pulling her back. Demon possession does the same thing as it wants your body and soul and will stop at nothing until it has you and once you’re in the demon’s grasp, you will most likely never make it out alive. But that just might be me adding a philosophical layer to a movie called Evil Dead.

The directing by Fede Alvarez truly is great and Fede really took a page out of Sam Raimi’s book. He obviously studied the original The Evil Dead and was a big fan. There are a lot of nice little homages and fun little treats for the fans…and his use of atmosphere and his camera angles were just brilliant. I couldn’t get enough of his work. He was also a pro at generating suspense and knew how to use silence. The score by Roque Baños was creepy and really worked for the film. It was subtle when it needed to be and I adored how intense it became in the final act.

Now I’d be doing a disservice to this film if I didn’t mention the acting. Everyone did a fine job, but this film belonged to Shiloh Fernandez and Jane Levy. While everyone was good, these two had the most to play with and they put everything they could into their roles. Shiloh’s David was likable and made for a good hero I could root for. I loved his guilt-ridden back-story and I loved his relationship with Jane, who plays his sister. Even when the script made him come off as a moron, Shiloh still made me care. Now what can I say about Jane Levy, except for HOLY SHIT! She owned this film like nobody’s business. She had a lot of notes to hit, and she hit each one perfectly. She was tragic and I felt so bad for her. I wanted her to kick the drug habit and when she became possessed she was frakkin’ frightening! Jane Levy was put through hell, and it really shows in her performance because she was just downright brilliant. This girl will be a star someday; I know it…and I hope she does more films within the genre.

Where the film was flawed was on some script levels. There was some clunky dialogue here and there that stood out as being odd and I noticed some dumb character decisions. You find a creepy book with warnings saying not to read it…so you decide to read it? And how long will it take for you to realize your sister is possessed?! But honestly these flaws were also in the original film, so they were easily forgive by me.

And while the suspense was there and the movie was beyond creepy, I kept wishing for it to be scarier. I wanted to want out shaking and having nightmares. The movie kept trying to terrify me, but it just never did. I think this is more with the fact that I’ve been watching horror films since I was six-years-old, so I guess I’ve become somewhat desensitized to being scared by movies. But the film’s worst fault was how they treated some of the characters. Jessica Lucas and Elizabeth Blackmore weren’t given much of characters, and I actually felt bad for Blackmore. Lucas at least a bit of dialogue and we learned something about her, but Blackmore was just given nothing to do. We learned nothing about her and she kind of just became a prop after awhile. It’s a shame, because she was fantastic in her one big scene (you’ll know it when you see it) and I honestly truly believed her when she was scared. I wonder if her scenes were deleted? Speaking of deleted scenes, I noticed that some scenes in the trailer didn’t make the film, such as David with the chainsaw, and I was really upset to learn that Mia’s creepy singing is NOT in the movie. I loved that bit in the trailer and was waiting for it to happen, and it never did. Shame, because it was a great scary moment. I hate when movie trailers do that.

But these flaws never hurt my enjoyment of the film, as this is the first horror film in a while I’ve seen in the theatre that I truly loved. This movie was a blood-soaked gorefest with suspense, some scares, likable characters, and a great final girl and some of the best gore effects I’ve seen in a long time! The original film is a masterpiece, and while I DO prefer the original film, I would say I hold this movie pretty high with it. Evil Dead isn’t just a great remake, but it was a great MOVIE in it’s own right.

Verdict: 9/10